Happiness work and society assessment

  • 15 Pages
  • Published On: 14-12-2023

Introduction

Any individual's satisfaction and well-being are essential and appropriate. Both of these produce desirable emotions such as happiness, gratitude, enjoyment, and enjoyment. Happiness, vitality, recreation, harmony with oneself, fulfilment, and openness to the world are all facets of well-being. Well-being encompasses not only happiness and joy, but also the existence of positive emotions or affects, such as desires, affection, excitement, and enjoyment, as well as the lack of negative thoughts, such as fear, sadness, and tension (nios.ac.in).

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Happiness and Well-Being: An Understanding

Happiness is often characterized by feelings or a condition of contentment that exists within a person. Although this meaning seems to imply a transient, temporary sense of fulfilment. Many of them confuse the word with well-being which is subjective which they gauge by actually asking individuals how happy they are with their lifestyles and how much pleasant and unpleasant experiences they are feeling (greatergood.berkely.edu). Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates this in her 2014 book The How of Happiness, defining happiness as an experience of pleasure, contentment, or positive well-being coupled with a feeling that one's life is pleasant, important, and worthwhile.

Happiness and better health are usually heavily dependent on each other, according to a growing body of study. Happiness does, in fact, make our hearts happier, our immune systems healthier, and our years longer, according to scientific studies. Several studies claim that happiness leads to better health; others claim only that the two are related—good health can lead to happiness, but not the other way around. Happiness and health can be a virtuous circle, but scientists are still trying to figure out how they are connected (greatergood.berkely.edu).

Considering the subject of happiness we need to consider the welfare of the whole group—but it's also important to ask if the welfare of the group can be determined with these subjective measures. Assuming that these items have the same level of reliability and validity in all cultures (Uchida and Oishi, 2016). At different points in history, opinions about how to measure happiness have diverged in the scientific community as various subjective measures have been confirmed and shown to be objective and reliable. George Hartmann (1934), with his research on the self-ratings of happiness, was the one with the first inquiry into the intensity of happiness across time into the long periods of time. By means of Webster's concept of happiness, he compared his personal feelings with those of happiness among the young of the same gender and age and asked them how would they rank their happiness on a scale of 1 to 10 compared to those of others. Hartmann discovered that the average rate of happiness remained the same within the duration of a month and did not show any correlations to any factors political viewpoints or economic state. However, research has come a long way since then and the theory of happiness and well being has been correlated to several of these aspects. Some of these will be examined in the next few sections.

Happiness and Wellbeing: Correlations and Influential Aspects

Happiness is a psychological term with many aspects and meanings. Happiness, according to psychology, is a positive feeling that is more than just a good mood. Happiness is one of the most essential principles in mental health, and it is characterised as a long-term outlook and positive feelings (Schlesinger, 1964). Positive feelings such as excitement, peace, a sense of purpose, and excitement in life are all examples of satisfaction in mental health (McMahon and Darrin, 2004).

Emotional, social, and cognitive concepts, according to many psychologists, are at least three basic aspects of happiness. The emotional aspect has resulted in widespread and meaningful social interactions with others, while the cultural factor has resulted in widespread and positive social relationships with others. The cognitive aspect allows the person to see things in a positive light (Honkanken, 2001). In terms of its relationship to well-being, this is a topic that has received a lot of attention in the literature. Happiness is widely used in relation to emotional factors, while well-being is more frequently used while referring to physical factors (Easterlin, 2001). Previous research has shown that happiness improves physical and mental health, improves sleep quality, lowers stress hormone levels, and improves cardiovascular functioning (Wardle et al, 2005), enhances compliance with life events, strengthens the immune system (Sheldon et al, 2005), contributes to the improvement of life's quality (Nanthamongkolchai et al, 2009; Pressman et al, 2009).

Influences on Happiness and Well Being

Different kinds of theories have been put forward which explore the emotions which contribute to the happiness and consequentially the well being of an individual. Stutzer (2003) looks at the role of aspirations in the happiness and well being of the individual. People make comparisons, which fuel their worries about their financial status. It is one's status relative to others, not one's actual income level, that matters that much. The concept of relative income is part of a larger principle called aspiration standard theory. Positional issues are not a new feature of human nature, but they are likely to be more pronounced today due to expanded social comparison opportunities. Many economists have observed that people equate themselves to significant others in terms of wealth, consumption, status, and utility in the past.

Second, people become used to their prior level of income or expenditure. Additional material products and services offer additional gratification at first, but this is typically only temporary. The increased utility of material products wears off with time. Satisfaction is conditional on transition and vanishes with continued intake. Transformation is the process or function that decreases the hedonic effects of a continuous or repeated stimuli. Consumption mechanisms that are socially comparative, if not competitive, are supplemented by hedonic evolution process. They motivate people to reach for ever higher goals as they work together. It's just a short step from goals to personal well-being. Personal well-being is measured by the difference between desire and achievement, according to aspiration level theory (Michalos, 2012 and Inglehart, 2018).

It is not only the absence or presence of aspiration and comparative feelings which have an effect on the people and their feelings of happiness. A discussion on aspirations will inevitably lead to a further discussion on the role of income. Easterlin (1974,1995) is credited with the first study of the impact of income on happiness, but other psychologists have also contributed significantly to the field (Diener and Oishi, 1999). Individuals in the richest quintile show slightly higher subjective health than those in the lowest income group in most countries. This relationship, on the other hand, is tiny and fragile. Happiness has not increased as a result of the sometimes rapid rise in per capita incomes in past few decades; national indexes of subjective well-being have essentially remained stable over time. Another collection of factors that affect happiness is the structural or constitutional structures in an economic system, the most important of which are democracy and federalism. Going by the recent literature , the effect of the size and design of democratic and federal institutions on personal well-being has only been hinted at, not thoroughly examined (Frey and Stutzer, 2000). Hence, while there is definite correlations between financial well being and general well being, the conditions of achieving those are offset by several structural factors too. Research has yielded that direct political participation and active involvement in the political processes of the country that they live in. Since most political structures are relatively stable over time, a cross-sectional examination of subjective happiness is reasonable. There are two main reasons why increased opportunities for direct political participation, or more established direct democracy structures, such as common referenda and initiatives, can be expected to improve citizens' qualitative well-being (Cronin, 1989; Budge, 1996, Frey, 1994).

For starters, professional lawmakers are better supervised and regulated as a result of citizens' increased participation. Political action, such as public expenditures and a variety of other actions, is more in line with citizens' wishes. As a result, a higher degree of overall well-being is associated with satisfaction with state output. Second, direct democracy structures increase citizens' opportunities to participate in the democratic process. This procedural influence appears to be independent of the result of the political operation itself, according to experimental evidence (Tyler, 1990; Bohnet and Frey, 1999).

Despite the fact that psychologists have been asking including using happiness measures for over 40 years, academics have only recently become interested in this information. The growing interest in understanding human desires beyond the information gathered from individual choice actions, such as purchasing and voting behaviour, is reflected in the happiness economics literature. Understanding the relationship between income and life satisfaction has been a major and early concern in this literature, beginning in the early 1970s (Van Praag 2003; Easterlin 1974) and continuing with modern happiness economics (Clark et al. 2008). The key finding is that the relation between the individual earnings and the satisfaction experienced by the individual is weak (though statistically significant), and this is even more so when individual fixed effects are taken into account (Ferrer-i-Carbonell and Frijters 2004). As compared to the coefficients of other variables such as unemployment or marriage, the variance of the income coefficient in a satisfaction regression is very minimal. Clark et al. (2005) provide for some variability in their cross-country comparison analysis and find that the impact of earnings on happiness varies across nations and is often dependent on individual traits. This finding means that not everyone equates money with happiness in the same way. While there are a few exceptions, most studies have found a very weak relationship between national average GDP per capita and average self-reported satisfaction by using macro data (Easterlin 1974; Di Tella and MacCulloch 2008). These results, which include both micro and macro evidence, question not only most current hypotheses, and also our common sense and observable behaviour. This conundrum has prompted academics to examine empirically various established theories for these results, including the relative existence of income and person adaptation trends.

Individual happiness and cultural differences in individual happiness have been the subject of longitudinal studies on happiness. Nonetheless, philosophers, political scientists, and sociologists have all been fascinated by the topic of societal satisfaction for decades. According to Hobbes (1651), order and peace may be formalised by a social contract between people and groups, in which individuals give up some of their inalienable natural rights in exchange for the safety of their lives. For the last 2500 years, various theories about the ideal society have been suggested, ranging from empires to communism to democracy (Oishi, 2016). The principle of subjective well being (SWB), which can be extracted from individual answers to questions about their current degree of satisfaction with life with their lives, is central to the research on happiness economics (Frey and Stutzer, 2002). While the validity of these indicators was disputed at first, recent research has proven their validity (Krueger and Schkade, 2008), so this component is often used in international and national studies. According to the facts, SWB is primarily influenced by socio-economic factors (D’Acci, 2011). The majority of happiness academic literature has centred on the relationship between income and subjective happiness, indicating that income has a significant positive impact on happiness (Inglehart and Klingemann, 2000). However, this correlation is not simple: on average, people with higher incomes seem to have higher levels of subjective well being, despite the fact that the levels of well being do not seem to correlate.

Happiness, Well Being and Economics

As a field of economics, happiness economics has largely evolved as a highly analytical pursuit. It is fuelled by the direct measurement of people's happiness. As a result, economists built on psychologically validated instruments that have been used in numerous polls. While the numerous self-reported metrics are the foundation for the field's academic performance, they are still the focus of many debates about the merits of the new economics method. Not all criticism yields the same results. Fundamental dismissals of new research often overlook a comparative viewpoint with previous research and the capacity for happiness research to offer additional insight. However, scepticism has led to many fruitful studies of the validity of empirical indicators (Krueger and Schkade 2008, Oswald and Wu 2010), has resulted in the creation of new statistical methods to evaluate survey results, has resulted in the development of new measures of subjective well-being, and has re-energized the debate regarding welfare in economics. The growing influence of behavioural economics, which replaces economists' techniques and concerns with those more familiar to psychologists, is a more recent development. The Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, in 2002, as a notable acknowledgment of the behaviouralist method (Graham, 2005).

Economists who research the psychology of happiness have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why changes in living conditions over time aren't reflected in an individual's happiness survey responses. Easterlin (1974) proposed that absolute income levels matter up to a point, especially when basic needs are not being addressed relative income disparities become more important. Pigou (1920) argued that since rich people derive most of their happiness from their relative wealth, fulfillment would not be harmed if all rich people's incomes were decreased at the same moment, supporting income redistribution. Economic development often causes norms and standards to adjust upward. As a result, the anticipated effects of increased income on satisfaction are driven by increasing expectations that follow increased income. Empirical research backs up this claim, demonstrating a much stronger connection between income and satisfaction at the lower part of the scale of incomes (Veenhoven 1991). Some researchers also discovered a second effect at the top part of the scale, which could be explained by greed or shifting desires as a result of increased income (Argyle 1999). Merton (1957), a well-known sociological work based on Stouffer's (1949) analysis of the effects of raises among U.S. soldiers, supports Easterlin's proposition about evolving reference norms. Stouffer discovered that members of the army, for whom promotions was extremely rare, were much happier when they were promoted than citizens of the air force, where upward advancement was the standard instead of them being the exception.

Individuals adjust their aspirations upward as societies advance, so income growth alone and also aggregate gains in essential fields such as health and well-being—can only go so far in increasing average levels of happiness. According to a particular interpretation of the steady state, happiness surveys cannot provide practical policy insights since practically nothing can make people happy over an extended period of time. There is some controversy regarding the long-term impact of incidents like severe disease, poverty, and the loss of a partner on happiness. According to some research, people will recover from almost any incident given enough time. Other studies also discovered that certain activities have long-term impacts on happiness. The results of unemployment are by far the most significant of these findings.

Economic results appear to be intimately linked to self-reported happiness and economic results and political views are linked to reported happiness and several associated expectations in ways such as people's expected benefits for upward mobility (that are strongly correlated). Individuals' abilities to anticipate or forecast future outcomes are undoubtedly part of what could be called "impact." However, there is behavioral proof that character characteristics like high self-esteem and confidence have an effect on people's job performance and medical outcomes. As a result, one unsolved problem is figuring out how to properly account for subjective well-being and related beliefs in describing a person's economic and political activity. Addressing such issues could help to improve awareness of issues like chronic poverty traps, whereby low aspirations play a major role in poor people's ability to take risks and invest in their child's education and health (Graham, 2005).

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However, some people critique the research which link financial gains to a better quality of happiness, like Conkle (2008). She elucidates that money’s marginal utility is diminishing. The first few pounds that lift a person out of deprivation have a much greater impact on a person's happiness than a billionaire's next billion. Cash, in reality, can be detrimental to happiness. When asked if wealth was more essential than affection in one research, those who said yes were less likely to be satisfied and seemed doomed to never catch up to happiness, regardless of how much money they made. Happiness is influenced by culture as a whole. The happiness and well being ratings by country are one of the most well-known results of well-being studies. Denmark is the happiest nation, the United States ranks second behind many countries in the continent of Europe and Canada, and poverty-stricken or war-torn countries rank last. It might be difficult for particularistic Western people to see, but happiness is influenced by the wider world around you, not by one's own disposition or life events.

Conclusion

The paper discussed various aspects of happiness, meanings, relation to well being and how these factors are affected by external and internal factors. While there is much to say about the research itself, it is clear that the overall area is in need of more research. This is important keeping in mind the rapid changes in the society and culture around us and the socio-economic shifts in population which is constantly happening.

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