milder forms, it is a miserable condition. This is a sickness that can not
be simply "willed" away.
What is meant by happiness?
Considering that happiness is "the most important thing in life,"
according to about half of Americans, science doesn't know a lot about
it. We don't even have an agreed upon definition for it. Is it having lots
of fun and pleasure? Is it being good looking, popular, and intelligent?
Is it feeling very lucky and gratified? Is it living a virtuous and
intellectual life, as Aristotle said? Is it having a positive attitude and
simply believing you are happy? Is it having lots of money? Is it when
things are going well, you have gotten more than you expected, and
you are having far more pleasant feelings than negative feelings?
Experts often say happiness is more than just having a good time or
lots of things, it involves a lasting sense of well-being, it is having a
fulfilling, meaningful, pleasurable life (Meyers, 1992).
Perhaps the definition of happiness is vague because each person's
happiness is contingent on achieving his/her own unique life goals,
which often involve secret hopes and dreams. This may also explain
why other people are hard to understand--we just don't know how
they are trying to achieve happiness. Once we understand what
"makes them happy," we may have significant new insights into the
other person's psyche. In our culture, we often seek happiness by
removing all stress, sadness, and irritations. Of course, that is
impossible over a long period of time.
There are several measures of depression, self-esteem, internal
control, optimism, etc. but few ways to measure happiness. Perhaps
because we all think we know what happiness is. Nevertheless, it
would encourage science if we had an objective, reliable measure of
happiness. Two British psychologists, Pete Cohen and Carol Rothwell,
interviewed 1000 people and came up with a formula for measuring
Happiness = P + (5 X E) + (3 X H)
where P is a single self-rating from 1 to 10 of several Personal
characteristics, including being outgoing, energetic, open to change,
having positive expectations, and feeling in control,