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Pursuit Of Happines

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Pursuit Of Happines

We are a group of scientists and educators dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge about happiness and depression prevention. We manage a multimedia educational platform (this website), as well as various hybrid, online, and onsite educational programs, focused on new discoveries related to happiness and psychological well-being. Thanks to the heartfelt dedication of numerous volunteers and a generous in-kind marketing grant from Google Inc., about 12 million visitors, including faculty and students from 1,500 secondary schools, 2,500 universities, as well as governmental organizations from around the globe, have accessed our educational resources.

Provide science-based information on the life skills and habits needed to enhance well-being, build resilience against depression and anxiety, and pursue a meaningful life. Draw attention to the remarkable links between ancient wisdom and the new science of happiness.Promote the pursuit of happiness through educational programs designed around the resulting knowledge base. We have collaborated with educational authorities in the U.S., China, and Europe to integrate the teaching of life skills related to psychological wellbeing with current curricula.

Pursuing happiness can paradoxically impair well-being. Here, the authors propose the potential downsides to pursuing happiness may be specific to individualistic cultures. In collectivistic (vs. individualistic) cultures, pursuing happiness may be more successful because happiness is viewed--and thus pursued--in relatively socially engaged ways. In 4 geographical regions that vary in level of collectivism (United States, Germany, Russia, East Asia), we assessed participants' well-being, motivation to pursue happiness, and to what extent they pursued happiness in socially engaged ways. Motivation to pursue happiness predicted lower well-being in the United States, did not predict well-being in Germany, and predicted higher well-being in Russia and in East Asia. These cultural differences in the link between motivation to pursue happiness and well-being were explained by cultural differences in the socially engaged pursuit of happiness. These findings suggest that culture shapes whether the pursuit of happiness is linked with better or worse well-being, perhaps via how people pursue happiness.

Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy. We suggest that, counter to this intuition, valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences. Specifically, because striving for personal gains can damage connections with others and because happiness is usually defined in terms of personal positive feelings (a personal gain) in western contexts, striving for happiness might damage people's connections with others and make them lonely. In 2 studies, we provide support for this hypothesis. Study 1 suggests that the more people value happiness, the lonelier they feel on a daily basis (assessed over 2 weeks with diaries). Study 2 provides an experimental manipulation of valuing happiness and demonstrates that inducing people to value happiness leads to relatively greater loneliness, as measured by self-reports and a hormonal index (progesterone). In each study, key potential confounds, such as positive and negative affect, were ruled out. These findings suggest that wanting to be happy can make people lonely.

In evaluating our choices, we often suffer from two tragic relativities. First, when our lives change for the better, we rapidly habituate to the higher standard of living. Second, we cannot escape comparing ourselves to various relative standards. Habituation and comparisons can be very disruptive to decision-making and happiness, and till date, it remains a puzzle why they have come to be a part of cognition in the first place. Here, we present computational evidence that suggests that these features might play an important role in promoting adaptive behavior. Using the framework of reinforcement learning, we explore the benefit of employing a reward function that, in addition to the reward provided by the underlying task, also depends on prior expectations and relative comparisons. We find that while agents equipped with this reward function are less happy, they learn faster and significantly outperform standard reward-based agents in a wide range of environments. Specifically, we find that relative comparisons speed up learning by providing an exploration incentive to the agents, and prior expectations serve as a useful aid to comparisons, especially in sparsely-rewarded and non-stationary environments. Our simulations also reveal potential drawbacks of this reward function and show that agents perform sub-optimally when comparisons are left unchecked and when there are too many similar options. Together, our results help explain why we are prone to becoming trapped in a cycle of never-ending wants and desires, and may shed light on psychopathologies such as depression, materialism, and overconsumption.

In the remainder of the paper, we connect our findings to psychological research on happiness, consider potential shortcomings of our work, and discuss implications of our results for disorders such as depression and overconsumption.

Our work has several limitations which should be addressed in order to draw more concrete parallels between our simulation-based results and psychological research on happiness. For one, we assumed that the agent designer directly provided the reward function to the agent and the agent had no say in what reward function it received. This simplification meant that we were not able to study how an agent might develop biased expectations or aspirations as well as study the consequences of an agent being able to control its own happiness. A productive avenue for future research could be studying reward design using the meta-learning framework, such that an agent learns to choose the parameters of its happiness function in response to the environment it faces [109, 110]. Relatedly, we also did not investigate in detail the potential interaction of discounting with prior expectations and relative comparisons (since we kept a fixed value for the discount factor in our experiments). Studying this further would be an important question for the future. Another limitation of our work is that we did not consider how aspirations can be influenced by social comparisons. Future research could address this by conducting multi-agent simulations wherein agents also compare themselves to other agents in the environment. This could also help understand how relative comparisons might interact with other components of happiness such as guilt and jealousy. Future work should also consider how the components of happiness we have considered here might interact with other affective states such as anxiety [111] and boredom [112]. Lastly, while our choice of environments was driven in part due to their popularity within the RL community, it is not completely clear how much our results will generalize to more real-world situations and therefore, caution must be exercised when generalizing our simulation results.

People generally like to feel happy, try to feel happy, and want to be happier even if they are already fairly happy. A large set of international data showed that about 70% of people rated happiness as important, and only 1% reported that they had never thought about happiness (Diener, 2000), and many people report that they want to be happier than they already are (Myers, 2000; Tsai, Knutson, & Fung, 2006). Happiness is positive and, as a result, can be seen as a goal insofar as people actively work toward the continued experience of such positivity (Tsai et al., 2006). However, pursuing happiness comes with significant costs (Gruber, Mauss, & Tamir, 2011), including loneliness (Mauss et al., 2012) and the aforementioned paradoxical reduction in happiness itself (Mauss, Tamir, Anderson, & Savino, 2011). This is because trying to be happier often leads people to monitor not only happy thoughts but also unhappy thoughts at the same time, and the ironic salience of this negativity makes them feel unhappier (Schooler & Mauss, 2010; Wegner, 1994). The present investigation proposes to add yet another item to this list of the downsides of happiness: feelings of time scarcity.

Because a previous act of seeking happiness tends to reduce happiness, people must try to fill the enlarging gap again and again, which may constantly require devoting their time toward activities pursued in the hope of reducing the gap between sought-for future happiness and current happiness. Because time is often a necessary cost in the undertaking of happiness-seeking activities (a dinner with friends might bring happiness, but it will also take an hour or more), and because such undertakings are made at the expense of pursuing other goals (attending the dinner rather than spending that time exercising; Riediger & Freund, 2004), the continuous pursuit of happiness will keep people in a resource-limited state (a never-ending series of happiness-seeking demands on their time), which may well lead to a sense of not having enough of that very resource (i.e., time). Therefore, we suggest that seeking happiness engenders an anticipation of an endless, time-demanding pursuit of happiness that compromises felt time availability. 041b061a72


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