Happy day two notes and assignment

Today we finished the Happy documentary.

Here are some notes –

  • Bhutan is focused on gross national happiness – they could flood their valley and make a profit from hydro-electricity, but that would mean moving people, so they will not do it.
  • Denmark – free education through college; free health care for life; cohabitation – brings all generations together, familial duties are shared, experiences are shared.
  • When we work in a community, the focus is on:
  • What do I have to share?
  • What is the religion/spiritual connection to universe, others, and self?
  • Icharibode (sp) spirit = “we meet, and are brother and sister.” “Do no harm.”
  • Monchu = “one family” communal coffin for ashes
  • Cooperation releases dopamine
  • We experience compassion from birth with reliance on another for nourishment
  • With focused intention, we can change our brains
  • Sweetness in taking up someone else’s burden
  • “Life is given on loan, and I give it back with interest.”
  • Gratitude, compassion, and cooperation are spiritual emotions and focus care about things bigger than self
  • spend time each day practicing happiness – it is a skill
  • The trick is to be authentically you


Write a brief statement about your answer to “Happiness is a skill” in the comments below.
Find two articles that support your premise. Print those off, annotate, and bring them for our conversation on Monday.




29 thoughts on “Happy day two notes and assignment

  1. If we think about happiness as a way of being that represents success or fulfillment, we can see happiness as a skill. There are many components that make up happiness: compassion, inner peace, inner strength and inner freedom. All of these components can be developed as skills so thus happiness is a skill.

  2. I think that there is simple happiness: something good happens in your day that makes you smile, a joke at lunch, or chocolate. I also think there is another, more complicated happiness as well, which has to do with life satisfaction and emotions that follow with it.

  3. Remember the tribe in Namibia? For them, happiness was not something that didn’t need to be worked on. It wasn’t something that you could improve. It was a part of life that came without trying but rather through natural occurrence and community. Happiness has become a skill for us because we have associated happiness with a goal we can work towards. When we reach it, we aren’t satisfied. The Hedonic Treadmill comes into play. For us true happiness is a skill because it takes effort to dissociate happiness with a goal.

  4. Happiness is a skill because it is developed through experience which is what we all need/go through in life. If remembering back in the documentary the people that they interviewed had gone through something whether it be bad or good, but they have always found themselves happier in the end. They had to experience something so that they could learn that skill which helped them lead to happiness. If you take for example the lady that got run over by a trunk; she had to go through something that was terrible but after going through the experience she learned that she was once happy but she found herself to be even happier after by her going through that experience she was able to gain some skill about life and how see saw it and be came happier.

  5. I don’t necessarily think that happiness is a skill. It’s an experience, an emotion. However, the act of seeking happieness is a skill. That is something that is achieved, cognitavely or subconsciously. The Goverment of Bhutan, citizens of Denmark, and citizens of Okinawa practiced achieving happyness. Whether it was a Goverment Policy, finding meaning in life or a simple way of life all of these individuals experience happiness by pursuing it.

  6. True happiness is a skill that must be worked at in order to refine it. Just like a soccer player must work hard every day to improve his playing until it becomes almost second nature, people must spend time each day focusing on improving happiness through organizing their lives, improving relationships, enjoying physical activity. Eventually this form of happiness will become second nature to them.

  7. Overall happiness is a skill that needs to be practiced and attained. However, an individual’s ability to obtain this happiness varies greatly due to his or her environment and genetic makeup. These factors make happiness more natural to some and therefore less of a challenge.

  8. Happiness is a skill, however it does not always need to be something we intentionally seek. For example, in the Namibia, the simplicity, cooperation, and happiness were so deeply rooted in their culture that happiness came at less effort or “skill.” However in most developed societies the competitive nature and materialistic aspect of culture leads to more stress and sadness. In more developed societies, people need to focus on happiness and acquire the skill as a part of their life in order to achieve the happiness for themselves.

  9. “Use it or lose it” Happiness is a skill and we choose to practice it in order to have that skill or in this case, in order to be happy. If it is not practiced, it is not present. This makes happiness less about the skill or state of being and more about the choice to not be something else. Happiness is more desirable to some than being a god athlete or a piano player, so it is the skill that is chosen and sought after.

  10. Happiness is not a skill. It’s a feeling or emotion. Often happiness comes in unexpected moments. In these moments, one does not try to obtain happiness, it just comes naturally. The term “skill” implies the ability to do or attain something. People don’t all have the same skills. For example, one person might be a great athlete while another is a very unathletic, yet artistic person. However, everybody has the some ability to achieve happiness. Whether this ability is used or not is up to the individual. One cannot be “good” at being happy just like one cannot be “good” at being sad. Happiness is solely an emotion that we feel. True happiness will come naturally, without us focusing on it and working at it.

  11. Happiness itself is just a feeling but discovering what causes happiness is a process of trial and error. This process is especially difficult in a society that misleads individuals by promoting the idea that money and material wealth will cause long term happiness. Recognizing what is truly valuable and what causes happiness is a skill that can be learned.

  12. All individuals are born with the capability of experiencing happiness. Your ability to be happy is, however, a skill that needs constant practice in order to maintain it. The method of attaining happiness varies from person to person and the amount of practice one needs to keep the skill of happiness depends on a persons lifestyle and circumstance. Practicing happiness and measuring it for growth is a tricky thing due to the fact that happiness is an emotion that can be both consciously and unconsciously be triggered. In addition, every individuals perception of happiness is different, so it is impossible to create a universal scale that ranges from 1-10 that can measure happiness. As a result, it is important to note that happiness, as a skill, should be individually based and assessed. Happiness is being passionate about your life goals, finding meaning, appreciating your friends and family, responding in positive manners, making the most out of what you have, etc. By doing all the afore mentioned things on a regular basis, you are “practicing” happiness and in turn polishing the skill of experiencing happiness that you were born with.

  13. Treating happiness as a skill is a great example of the quality that, according to the documentary, makes Americans and other inhabitants of wealthy countries so unhappy. The tendency to treat everything as a quantifiable goal for which to strive is perhaps what makes these countries both economically successful and unhappy. I think the reason Americans consider themselves unhappy is because they equate happiness with complacency and it is an essential American (and East Asian) ethic to never settle and to always try to improve one’s situation. I don’t know exactly what it is that goes into happiness, but if Americans want to compete with Bhutan in the global happiness sweepstakes, maybe they should stop being so damn competitive.

  14. Happiness, as a long-standing state of being rather than a fleeting sensation, is a combination of choices. Managing time well to incorporate things to sustain happiness is a choice, and one that can create long-term happiness. In material-centered cultures, this choice can be much more difficult. Studies have been done that if you surround yourself with positive people, you will be happier. Who you surround yourself with is a choice. Big picture, it is also a choice how much of your life you spend wanting, and how much you spend giving. Wanting happiness is even in a circular way preventing the achievement of it. Contentment and gratitude is the attitude to have in order to achieve happiness, which means even being content with your own amount of happiness. Time and close people are just conscious choices that individuals make so they have things in their life to be grateful for.

  15. Happiness is as much of a skill as cooking and driving is. It takes conscious effort as well as trial and error to achieve true happiness. Synaptic connections and persistent trials need to be made to receive the most out of the state of being happy. However, while happiness does take willpower, the amount that it takes can vary depending on the culture and context of a society. For example, not everyone can find happiness within themselves through nature by methods such as fishing and canoeing, and may seek different ways of being happy such as programming or being a great scholar. Some of these luxuries require external factors that do not weigh into happiness, such as money and connections, and takes much more willpower to receive said happiness because of the roadblocks that need to be taken care of before developing the skill.

  16. A resentment toward “phoniness” already permeates our culture, to drag down powerful emotions into the post modern phony gumbo can only lead to increased dissatisfaction and frustration with one’s situation. Viewing happiness as a learn-able skill that can be achieved or used attempts to quantify the unquantifiable. If subtitles of the human experience that bring people real coexistence and harmony with their environment are forced, all intrinsic meaning is lost and they become just another task to be completed on rote, dulling the once bright spots of life to just another gray.

  17. Happiness can come from day to day instances that cause feelings of elation, but this isn’t true happiness. True happiness comes from contentment, or satisfaction with circumstances. Without constantly wanting more from life, there is no reason to be unhappy. Happiness is a skill when one understands contentment. Everyone has the same ability to develop this skill, but by always setting goals higher and higher, people get in the way of the development of this skill to be happy. It is often believed that achieving one’s goals are the way to be happy, but in reality this is what keeps people from being capable of happiness because every time a goal gets pushed farther, contentment gets pushed farther as well.

  18. Happiness is you lost something and when you are thinking about that, you have a feeling that really want to cherish and really want to back again. And at this time you get the hope for the future. All things would be cherished after losing. Cherish “right now” is the happiness for the “future”.

  19. Happiness should by no means be an intentional occurrence. It being a skill implies the lack of existence of a happiness without an intentional employing of the “skill”. I believe it is a simple state of being essentially at the root of human existence, constantly craved. I think, though, that this happiness can be easily distorted and masked by culture, in which situation different skills can then be applied to once again try to achieve that happiness, but in this forced joy, I think the simplicity and beauty of true blissfulness is lost. Although I do believe that practicing acting in kind ways, and practicing meditation are by no means malevolent, I do not believe that you can practice happiness in that same way. It isn’t happiness if it is forced, the same way that it isn’t unhappiness if it is forced. Unhappiness is essential to our happiness, and so attempting to counteract it seems futile. An optimistic outlook cannot hurt, but the act of trying to be happy all of the time will likely cause just the opposite, since true happiness cannot be forced.

  20. People are caught up in the “pursuit of happiness”. Yet, the definition of pursue, “to follow and try to catch or capture for something”, implies that happiness must be actively sought after. Happiness is a skill, and in order to practice it, one must know what makes them happy. In the movie, people found happiness in sports, relationships, volunteering, music, cooking and animals. All of these elements were intentional to make life meaningful for each person. For example, the Brazilian man made the proactive decision to go surfing everyday. It wasn’t on accident that he was happy; he made the mindful decision to do so. Practicing happiness often fosters kindness and compassion, making life worthwile, and well, happy.

  21. Happiness is not a skill. A skill is something we can intentionally strive for and obtain. Emotions such as happiness are natural impulses and responses to external and internal stimuli; we cannot actually control how much dopamine and other chemicals are released or how many synaptic receptors we have available in our bodies. It’s virtually impossible, or more accurately insensitive, to purposely make oneself happy when something sad happens or vice versa. There’s no disputing the benefits of feeling happy and content as opposed to stressed, but to say we can intentionally be happy whenever we feel like is far-fetched.

  22. Happiness is not a skill. There is no way to “train” yourself to be happy; smiling in a mirror won’t increase your happiness, nor will creating a falsely cheery persona. Happiness is indirectly created from the development of other skills that we value..

  23. Happiness is a fundamental human skill. In the most basic sense of the word, a skill is something that is used to accomplish a task. Happiness is something that humans use in order to feel meaning and fulfillment in life. Just like a skill, happiness is a tool that can be taught and spread. The surfer from the documentary explained that he shares his love for the activity with his son, and they are happy doing it together. Not everyone is happy, but everyone has the ability to be. It takes practice and often patience to develop this skill that can lead to a purposeful life.

  24. Happiness is such a broad topic that it is impossible to address it simply. Therefore I will use the documentary’s view in narrowing down the topic. It said, although not outright, that happiness is a worthy goal to pursue, and is measurable by self assessment. So in this definition, the self perception of one’s own happiness is a skill. By focusing on good things in life a person can believe they are more happy on a whole. As happiness is made up in the mind, one can make up their mind that they are happy, whether they actually are and what this means is another question. I think the self perceived happiness measurement entirely avoids the deeper questions that are at work, but they would all require many more questions and no real answers.

  25. This isn’t a question that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ There are many levels of happiness, and they are all different from each other. Contentment, for example, needs no practice, as it is a state of being. The happiness you get from interacting with other people is different because social interaction is a thing that can be practiced, although some people might not need it.

    My answer is ‘yes, but…’ It’s simply too complex of a subject.

  26. Happiness may be chosen in particular instances; however, as stated in the film, a person that has experienced tragedy will always go back to a baseline happiness. For each individual there are many ways to achieve “happy”, however it is in the action of pursuing one of these options that creates the skill. In order to reach beyond basic contentment, or baseline happiness, choices must be made to overcome and preserver through every struggle. While a person may choose to be unhappy, he or she has just as much control in choosing to be happy and in what action to pursue in order to authentically increase this happiness.

  27. Happiness is not a skill but rather an outcome of how productive one is, whether in a job, or by simply doing activities one enjoys. One of the primary reasons happiness is not a skill, is because it is not something that can be trained or achieved just through hard work. One also needs to be content with themselves before ultimately realizing what they have is great. The people in the video didn’t have much, but whenever they did the activities they enjoyed, when they believed themselves to be productive, was the moment when they achieved happiness.

  28. When a person try’s to analyze happiness, breaking it down and seperating each part, it takes away the actual emotional part of it. Making “happiness” a goal turns into something to strive for, creating frustration if we don’t have it. That’s why most countries are feeling unhappy when they try to quantify the unquantifiable.

join in the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s