The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness

Human beings have been studying the concept of happiness for a long, long time, dating back nearly as far as we have recorded history. We find different themes popping up in different eras; happiness is living a virtuous life, happiness is having lots of grain, happiness is being rich in familial relationships.

Next to eternal life, the pursuit of happiness is probably man’s most coveted achievement.

We see happiness popping up in Plato’s The Republic (c. 428-347 BCE)…

We have proved that justice in itself is the best thing for the soul itself, and that the soul ought to do justice…

-Plato, The Republic

… where he determined that “justice” was the path to happiness.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonides (c. 1135-1204) believed that happiness was achieved through an intellectual understanding of and connection to God.

In An Essay on Man, poet Alexander Pope (c. 1773-1774) posits that happiness is built on virtue and is humanity’s end purpose.

And in modern times, the field of Positive Psychology has taken a stab at understanding what makes up and cultivates happiness. Through the science of happiness, we’ve learned all sorts of things about happiness, like:

  • Money can buy happiness, but only up to $75,000. After that, money makes a negligible difference in our overall happiness.

  • Happiness is not a hereditary trait—we don’t inherit happiness from our parents, nor can we pass it on genetically. It must be cultivated through our day to day experiences.

  • We can achieve happiness through connection to others faster than we can achieve it through any other means.

  • Acts of kindness and doing positive things for others makes us happier

  • Happy people report feeling less physical pain on a regular basis