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Happiness can either be internal or external according to the economist Richard Layard. Layard (2005) stated that ‘Happiness comes from outside and within’. So therefore, if a person is thinking positively on the inside most likely they will also be showing their positivity on the outside and also, if a person is content in their role in the family or work place such as a mother they are more likely to feel happier leading a more positive life with the outside factors such as family life, work life and community factors.
Firstly, research carried out by Toshihiko Maruta and colleagues (Spoors et al, 2010, p. 54) chose 839 patients who had been for medical care nearly 40 years ago. The patients agreed to certain tests including a test that measured their optimism. 200 patients had died by the year 2000 but the patients that performed the test and were optimists had 19% longer lives than the pessimistic thinkers. There may have been many reasons as to why some of the patients were thinking negatively or positively possibly with factors on the inside such as feeling happy or sad on the inside and also outside factors such as family life, employment, education and housing which might lead to people being positive or negative. Also, it has been known that patients who are optimistic may heal quicker from surgery and therefore would feel better sooner so would be happier.
Secondly, Martin Seligman (Spoors et al, 2010, p. 54) is believed to be the psychologist who formed positive psychology. He carried out research by asking 577 people to think about and write down a time when they felt at their most happiest and then asked to reflect on their personal strengths during this period of time and told to review their findings once every day for seven days. Participants were also informed to note down three things that were successful on that day and to also include reasoning behind their strengths and personal experiences. Seligman found that the happiness levels “increased significantly” and also remained this way after 6 months had passed. This explains if we continue to think positively on the outside our optimism will increase and be a more pleasant outcome and if we try to identify reasons when we felt at our best and why then our positivity will rise. Often when we are giving praise we feel happier so if we did note down when we are at our best then just like praise it might make us feel happier. Richard Layard (Spoors et al, 2010, p. 83) concluded that their are different factors that make us happy including a ‘Big Seven’ which is a list of factors that boosted feelings of happiness. Included were satisfying work, good health and personal freedom although number one on the list of seven was family and other close relationships. According to this research it seems that outside factors are also very important to our happiness and although a person may feel happy on the inside they may not have outside factors such as satisfying work and close relationships which might have an effect on the level of happiness they are feeling. If we achieve these factors in our personal lives then it would mean that we would lead a happier life. On the other side, a person may be thinking negatively and family and other close relationships with people may make them feel happier and fulfilled. Although, generally if a person feels satisfied in their employment they are more likely to feel they are making an impact and this will boost their confidence and happiness and this shows that outside factors such as good family support and other relationships, health which is an inside factor affecting our happiness can also play an important role on happiness.
Finally, Peter Forster (Spoors et al, 2010, p. 111) from the New Economics Foundation explained from a statement that he made in 2006, that the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is “the happiest place on earth” because the community support network of the island is very strong and when people go through difficult times others are their to support each other and when they are able to work they do so for their community. He also commented that the process of people moving from islands to the capital in search of employment and money which also affects family networks and other support networks that their happiness will “decline”. Therefore, Peter Forster believes that support networks and family are vital to our happiness and that moving away from these sources of support can really affect our happiness levels. We have all felt happier when we are supported by our family and other support networks because we feel that we belong and are part of something and when life becomes negative and difficult to handle we can rely on our family and other support to encourage us to overcome this for a positive and happy result.
There are many inside and outside factors to our happiness levels and according to the above research these may include generally being optimistic, family, social and also making an effort to understand and record episodes of happiness and learn from these. We may have happiness from inside factors such as feeling happy inside with it being in our nature to be positive and cheerful or outside factors such as a good family support network and members of the family doing their best to support each other and ensuring everyone is cared for. Both the inside and outside factors are added as a combination to our happiness levels and when these are met we may feel a happier person.
Welcome (belatedly on my part) to Ciao. A good first review, but I hope you won't take it amiss if I suggest that would suit this site better if it were a little less academic in style. More of your own opinion and fewer references to those of others would make it a livelier and more engaging read.
catsholiday 25.02.2011 12:22
I echo RICHARDA;s comment - welcome indeed.
RICHADA 24.02.2011 17:40
Hello and a very warm welcome to Ciao. What a fascinating subject to publish as a first review. R.