Nautilus

Happiness Is About Living the Good Life—However You Define It

The American dream is a self-oriented one. Fulfilling it means getting everything you want out of life. But it is not necessarily a call to live selfishly. It is a call to sanctify what you can achieve and desire—to ennoble the pursuit of happiness.

This way of understanding happiness—getting what you want—is hardly unique to America; it’s more or less common in what Mohsen Joshanloo, a psychologist at Keimyung University, in South Korea, calls “individualist countries.” In Canada, Australia, and many “Western European cultures,” he says, people tend to believe internal efforts and “pleasure-seeking” lead to happiness. This individualistic way of conceiving a happy life isn’t culturally universal, of course, he says. There’s another predominant way to understand happiness and

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