The dictionary describes happiness as a “state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”. However different people will receive “intense joy” from different things - happiness is subjective . The ability to create a formula for happiness has been attempted throughout history, to no avail. From Greek philosopher Epicurus and his notion of sensations create pleasure, up to Maslow (1943) and his hierarchy of needs. The pursuit of happiness has been one of mankind’s greatest struggles. Here I intend to evaluate the theories of psychologists on what makes people happy.
Psychology has often tended to focus on mental illness rather than mental wellness. Positive psychology focuses on the latter allowing “the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive”. This section builds on the groundwork set by humanistic psychology and has three key research areas: positive emotions, positive individual traits and positive institutions. These are the building blocks to the whole theory.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, considered one of the leading stated “Treatment is not just fixing what is broken: it is nurturing what is best”. His major input into the field is his “flow theory“. This theory is that individuals experience happiness if they are fully involved in what they are doing. Csíkszentmihályi argued that up to nine different factors could occur during flow, ranging from having clear goals to a distorted sense of time. This concept is used in many other fields, such as gaming technology.
The flow theory was developed when Csíkszentmihályi studied artists, realising that while painting they were totally immersed in their work and only painted for self-reward. To study flow in a natural environment, Csíkszentmihályi set up a field experiment. Participants were given an electronic beeper and a questionnaire booklet. Seven times a day for one week, participants were beeped randomly...