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Informed Pursuit of Happiness: What we should know, do know and can get to know

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  • Ruut Veenhoven

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Abstract

The rational pursuit of happiness requires knowledge of happiness and in particular answers to the following four questions: (1) Is greater happiness realistically possible? (2) If so, to what extent is that in our own hands? (3) How can we get happier? What things should be considered in the choices we make? (4) How does the pursuit of happiness fit with other things we value? Answers to these questions are not only sought by individuals who want to improve their personal life, they are also on the mind of managers concerned about the happiness of members of their organization and of governments aiming to promote greater happiness of a greater number of citizens. All these actors might make more informed choices if they could draw on a sound base of evidence. In this paper I take stock of the available evidence and the answers it holds for the four types of questions asked by the three kinds of actors. To do this, I use a large collection of research findings on happiness gathered in the World Database of Happiness, which serves as an online supplement to this paper. The data provide good answers to the questions 1 and 2, but fall short on the questions 3 and 4. Priorities for further research are indicated. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Ruut Veenhoven, 2015. "Informed Pursuit of Happiness: What we should know, do know and can get to know," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 1035-1071, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:16:y:2015:i:4:p:1035-1071
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-014-9560-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rozemarijn Schalkx & Ad Bergsma, 2008. "Arthur’s advice: comparing Arthur Schopenhauer’s advice on happiness with contemporary research," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 379-395, September.
    2. R. Veenhoven, 2008. "Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 449-469, September.
    3. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Stress that Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(2), pages 339-366, June.
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    5. Carol Ryff & Burton Singer, 2008. "Know Thyself and Become What You Are: A Eudaimonic Approach to Psychological Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 13-39, January.
    6. Cahit Guven, 2011. "Are Happier People Better Citizens?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 178-192, May.
    7. Jan Ott, 2010. "Greater Happiness for a Greater Number: Some Non-controversial Options for Governments," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(5), pages 631-647, October.
    8. Ruut Veenhoven, 2010. "Life is Getting Better: Societal Evolution and Fit with Human Nature," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 97(1), pages 105-122, May.
    9. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
    10. Jan Ott, 2010. "Good Governance and Happiness in Nations: Technical Quality Precedes Democracy and Quality Beats Size," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 353-368, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salvador Saz-Salazar & Ana Navarrete-Tudela & José Ramón Alcalá-Mellado & Daniel Carlos Saz-Salazar, 2019. "On the Use of Life Satisfaction Data for Valuing Cultural Goods: A First Attempt and a Comparison with the Contingent Valuation Method," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 119-140, January.
    2. Amanina Abdur Rahman & Ruut Veenhoven, 2018. "Freedom and Happiness in Nations: A Research Synthesis," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 13(2), pages 435-456, June.
    3. Efstratia Arampatzi & Martijn J. Burger & Natallia Novik, 2018. "Social Network Sites, Individual Social Capital and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 99-122, January.
    4. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn & Marianna Strzelecka, 2017. "Happy Tourists, Unhappy Locals," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 134(2), pages 789-804, November.
    5. Moshe Zeidner & Gerald Matthews & Dorit Olenik Shemesh, 2016. "Cognitive-Social Sources of Wellbeing: Differentiating the Roles of Coping Style, Social Support and Emotional Intelligence," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(6), pages 2481-2501, December.
    6. Zhenjun Zhu & Zhigang Li & Hongsheng Chen & Ye Liu & Jun Zeng, 2019. "Subjective well-being in China: how much does commuting matter?," Transportation, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 1505-1524, August.
    7. Badri Bajaj & Ragini Gupta & Santoshi Sengupta, 2019. "Emotional Stability and Self-Esteem as Mediators Between Mindfulness and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(7), pages 2211-2226, October.
    8. Harald Strotmann & Jürgen Volkert, 2018. "Multidimensional Poverty Index and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 167-189, January.

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