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Austin Carpenter ENGL 212 DR.

Emily Beard December 9, 2013 Project Happiness

Never in my life have I ever investigated such a simple topic. Over the last three months that simple topic I spent so much time investigating was happiness. What is happiness, how do you achieve or find it, what really makes me happy, and why? Another question I wanted to discover an answer to was “what is the feeling of happiness?” (Layard,12) These were some of the questions I tried to discover answers to. After extended time trying to find these answers, I now have a different perspective on happiness. I also now know in my opinion what the true meaning of happiness is. Throughout the last three months I have wrote a collection of papers on happiness. Read many different pieces on others thoughts on happiness, watched videos, analyzed photos, and done some regular research. Doing this has influenced my different perspective on happiness, and putting all these together is something I call Project Happiness. Also during this three month period I came up with a set of virtues. These were things that I thought were holding me back from achieving true happiness which was to enjoy the small things, and stop procrastinating. So I would work on these virtues during the three months in hope of becoming happier. When I first heard about the happiness project I had mixed emotions about it. I wasn’t really interested, because I already thought I was happy. Also I thought I knew what happiness really was. I wasn’t interested in spending this extended amount of time on happiness. I also did

not know what to expect with the project. I never expected to discover a new meaning, or definition of happiness. Also I didn’t think it would help me at all. I thought I was happy before we started, and therefore didn’t think I would become any happier after the completion of this project. On the other hand I have always been open to trying new things. So I gave this project my full attention and participation, just to see if by any chance it will change my perspective. The project began with a lot of reading. Two books and over five articles I had read. All about happiness, but each piece had a different perspective. I kept a blog throughout the duration of the project simply tracking my progress. Also I wrote a total of four papers, and composed a video on happiness from my perspective. The first paper was titled as Happiness Exploration. This was a perfect introduction to the project. This paper was literally the exploration of my happiness. This opened up my mind to think what makes me happy. I chose to write about an event in my life that made me happy, and analyze why that event made me happy. The second paper was titled The Happiness Interview. In this paper I interviewed an old friend to take a look at his perspectives on happiness. After hearing what he had to say during the interview I analyzed his thoughts and compared and contrasted them to mine. From the Happiness Paradoxes there is a quote that says “Hell is other people. Heaven is other people.” I took this quote into consideration during while analyzing the interview. It meant to me that others can make you happy or make you miserable so you cant always compare your happiness to that of others. Every individual has their own happiness, it can never be compared. The third piece was the Happiness Video Project. I created the video project with two others. In the article titled Happiness Applied, the author states that “the person on a career path is primarily motivated by extrinsic factors, such as money and advancement” (Unknown, 101.) So for this project we interviewed many people and asked them the question, what is something you have bought that

made you happy? We did this to investigate if money can really buy happiness. The fourth paper was the happiness photo essay. In this paper I took a handful of pictures and discussed how the pictures portrayed meaning and happiness to me. The final paper was the Gratitude Assignment. In this paper I wrote a letter to a person that means a lot to me. I choose my brother. After writing this I presented it to him and analyzed the reaction he and I had after I read the letter to him. All of these assignments helped me to look at every aspect of happiness, and give me a different outlook on happiness. While doing all of these papers and projects I worked on my virtues, in seek of becoming happier. My virtues as stated above include enjoying the little things, and to stop procrastinating. For the first month and a half I focused on enjoying the little things. This was the perfect time to work on this, because I had just made the Saginaw Valley State University hockey team. My life changed within the blink of an eye. I would now have less free time and have to adapt to a completely new lifestyle of being a college athlete. So I wanted to focus on enjoying every minute spent with family and friends, because I would no longer be able to see them as much as I am accustom to. Also I turned 20 years old during this project. Turning 20 I realized I am no longer a teenager. And it hit me that life is going by faster than I ever expected. This also inspired me to begin to enjoy the small things. My second virtue to stop procrastinating was also something I wanted to work on in seek of becoming happier. Having become a college athlete I would also have less time for school work, and waiting till the last minute for everything would no longer be an option. My whole life I had always waited until the day before to study for a test, or get homework done. “Unfinished tasks were draining my energy and making me feel guilty,” (Rueben, 34) This perfectly describes how I feel when I have unfished things that I put

off to the last minute, and this caused me to constantly be stressed out and rush to get things done. So by working on this I hoped to become less stressed and therefore happier. I recently watched the movie Shrek 2. There is a scene where a fairy god mother comes to the presence of a sad princess and states that happiness is just a tear drop away and then gives her a bunch of things that she thought would make her happy. However she said I don’t need all of this. This scene helped me with coming to a conclusion about happiness. With the many readings, photos, videos and three months of extensive research and work on a single topic. I have been able to develop a definition of happiness. My definition is that happiness is not something you can buy, and not something you can achieve and have permanently. Happiness is feelings of comfort, well-being, and contentment. And there will always be a continuous battle to get these feelings as some days they will be present and some days they will not. With the work and research done along with trying to become happier myself, it has changed my perspective and outlook on happiness. After working on my two virtues I wouldn’t say I am necessarily any happier, however I am less stressed out. This came from no longer procrastinating with everything. Also not only working on my virtues, but by overall doing the happiness project it really helped me to adjust to my new lifestyle. I’m extremely glad that I gave this project my full attention and participation, as I think it has made me a better person, student, brother, son, friend and athlete. I never would have thought that there is so much more to happiness than everybody thinks.

Sources      Rubin, Gretchen. "Chapter 7 Pg. 34." The Happiness Project. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. N. Print. Layard, Richard. "Chapter 2 Pg. 12." Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. New York: Penguin, 2005. N. Print. Unknown Author. “Happiness in the Workplace Pg. 101.” Happiness Applied The Happiness Project/ Shrek 2 DreamWorks (2004) Format: DVD