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Happiness, 1.07 (V) Week 1 Video 2 - Happiness is a balloon!

[MUSIC] Hi there, welcome back. As a great man once said, happiness is like a balloon, the lighter you are, the more uplifted you feel. I'm just kidding, actually, nobody ever said that. But I do think that happiness is like a balloon. There are many reasons why I like this metaphor. Balloons are such fun and happy things. They're associated with positive events, like birthdays and other kinds of celebrations. Also, when you hold a balloon, not just you, but everyone around you knows how big the balloon is. It turns out that happiness is very similar. Not just you, but everyone around you knows how happy you are. What this suggests is that it's not that difficult to measure happiness. You can just ask people how happy they are, and their self-reports are generally very reliable. This is a very important thing to note, since when the topic of happiness as a field of research comes up, I'm invariably asked by many people about the measurement of happiness. Can happiness be reliably and objectively measured, they ask me. This is a legitimate concern since, after all, unlike the [SOUND] amount of money you have in your bank, happiness is [SOUND] the subjective feeling. So, it's fair to ask whether happiness can be objectively measured. Now, thankfully, a lot of work has gone into this topic. And the researcher who's probably done the most amount of work on measuring happiness is Professor Ed Diener from the University of Virginia, who's known all around the world as Dr Happiness for his pioneering work. Asking people how happy they are is, of course, the easiest way to measure happiness, but the concern with this measure is whether it's a reliable, objective one. And so I asked professor Ed Diener this very question and here's what he had to say about the issue. Note that this interview was done online through Skype, so the audio and video quality may not be the best. Note also, that Professor Ed Diener, in his response to me begins with, probably if you ask people. By ask people, he's referring to asking people how happy they are. That is, he's referring to the self reported measure of happiness. Listen. » Probably if you ask people, that's the best single measure because each of the other measures, the so-called objective measures, each has its own problems. But one of the interesting things is in our smaller research, not research across 100 countries, but in small research where we have 30 or 50 subjects we can look at how those different measures converge and give us the same answer. Brain scans, for example, people's left prefrontal activity correlates with their happiness reports. Things like serotonin levels or cortisol levels during the day, which is a hormone. We can look at what their family and friends say about their happiness. We can give them reaction time experiments on the computer where they're having to react to good things in their life or bad things. Happy people are able to remember more good things than bad things and when we do that, we find that all the measures, to some degree, converge. They don't converge 100%, but they all tell us the same answer. And when we find an individual where there's big differences, for example, family and friends say he's very happy, but he says he's unhappy, or vice versa, family and friends say he's very unhappy, or very happy, but he says he's unhappy, whichever. Then we see usually that person is going to have some problems, there's something strange going on. But in the majority of cases when people say they're unhappy their family and friends do too. And so we get a correlation of 0.5 say between taking 5 family and friends reports and what the person says. So, we start to get confidence again that the measures are valid. Another thing that sort of tell us about the validity of the measures is that you can predict their future behavior. So, for example, if you ask people how satisfied are they with their life at age 18 or 20, we see that the people who are more cheerful, more satisfied early in life later succeed in certain ways. For example, in age 38 they have higher incomes, controlling for other things like their parental income, their occupation, and so forth. So that's interesting, happy people making more money. We also see that happy people later, are more likely to live longer, have better health. We see that they are more likely to get married and stay married and not get divorced. You say well maybe their marriage was unhappy no, this is five, ten years before they ever got married when we took the happiness report and later we see that the people who are low on happiness way back then when they were 18 and 20, are fair amount more likely to get divorced or have any unhappy marriage. So this points to the fact that these aren't just made up at the moment, current mood. That there's something enduring and important that these measures are capturing. » So there you have it. Asking people how happy they are is the easiest way to measure happiness. And it turns out that this is a reliable measure of happiness as well. Now, returning back to the balloon metaphor. If the bigger the balloon, the happier you are then the question is, what affects the size of the balloon? One thing that surely affects it, is whether it has holes in it. Now, these holes don't have to be very big of course, even if they are microscopic holes. The air will slowly seep out of the balloon, as you might have discovered when a balloon got deflated overnight. And of course, if the balloon has a really big hole in it, it's going to deflate even faster. In this course, I'm going to be talking about seven deadly happiness sins. These sins are like the holes in the balloon. The more the number of sins you have or you commit, the faster your happiness is going to deflate. And likewise, the more frequently you commit a sin, the bigger the hole in the balloon is going to get and therefore, the faster your happiness will deflate. Another thing that affects the size of the balloon is whether air is being pumped into it. In this course, I'm going to be talking about seven habits of the highly happy. These habits are like the pumps, the more the number of pumps you have which are pumping air to the balloon, the happier you will be. Likewise, the bigger the pump, which means the stronger your habit, the bigger the balloon. So basically, you can think about it this way. There are two forces acting on the balloon at all times, the sins and the habits. The way to increase your happiness is to get rid of the sins, the holes in the balloon, and acquire the habits, the pumps. The more the number of sins you get rid of, which is the equivalent of patching the holes on the balloon, the happier you'll be. And likewise, the more the number of pumps you acquire, the happier you will be. And if you do a sufficiently good job of patching up all the holes and acquiring a sufficiently large number of pumps, your happiness balloon can be really quite big, and you can fly high. Now, I'm aware that a balloon doesn't need seven pumps to inflate it, and that it actually looks kind of funny, maybe more like an octopus than a balloon. I'm also aware that if you blow too much air into the balloon, it will eventually pop. But other than that, the balloon analogy works pretty well and I'm going to revisit this metaphor throughout this course. Our main objective in this course is to try and make your happiness balloon big. How? By getting rid of the sins and acquiring these happiness habits. But I should warn you that getting rid of these sins is not going to be easy and neither is it going to be easy to acquire the habits of the highly happy. However, if I have learned one thing from teaching for all these years, I have learned that there are some effective ways to eliminate the sins and acquire the habits. In the next video, I will tell you more about what it is going to take to get you to get rid of the seven deadly happiness sins, and what it's going to take to acquire the seven habits of the highly happy. So, [SOUND] stay tuned. [MUSIC]



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[MUSIC] Hi there, welcome back. As a great man once said, happiness is like a balloon, the lighter you are, the more uplifted you feel. I'm just kidding, actually, nobody ever said that. But I do think that happiness is like a balloon. There are many reasons why I like this metaphor. Balloons are such fun and happy things. They're associated with positive events, like birthdays and other kinds of celebrations. Also, when you hold a balloon, not just you, but everyone around you knows how big the balloon is. It turns out that happiness is very similar. Not just you, but everyone around you knows how happy you are. What this suggests is that it's not that difficult to measure happiness. You can just ask people how happy they are, and their self-reports are generally very reliable. This is a very important thing to note, since when the topic of happiness as a field of research comes up, I'm invariably asked by many people about the measurement of happiness. Can happiness be reliably and objectively measured, they ask me. This is a legitimate concern since, after all, unlike the [SOUND] amount of money you have in your bank, happiness is [SOUND] the subjective feeling. So, it's fair to ask whether happiness can be objectively measured. Now, thankfully, a lot of work has gone into this topic. And the researcher who's probably done the most amount of work on measuring happiness is Professor Ed Diener from the University of Virginia, who's known all around the world as Dr Happiness for his pioneering work. Asking people how happy they are is, of course, the easiest way to measure happiness, but the concern with this measure is whether it's a reliable, objective one. And so I asked professor Ed Diener this very question and here's what he had to say about the issue. Note that this interview was done online through Skype, so the audio and video quality may not be the best. Note also, that Professor Ed Diener, in his response to me begins with, probably if you ask people. By ask people, he's referring to asking people how happy they are. That is, he's referring to the self reported measure of happiness. Listen. » Probably if you ask people, that's the best single measure because each of the other measures, the so-called objective measures, each has its own problems. But one of the interesting things is in our smaller research, not research across 100 countries, but in small research where we have 30 or 50 subjects we can look at how those different measures converge and give us the same answer. Brain scans, for example, people's left prefrontal activity correlates with their happiness reports. Things like serotonin levels or cortisol levels during the day, which is a hormone. We can look at what their family and friends say about their happiness. We can give them reaction time experiments on the computer where they're having to react to good things in their life or bad things. Happy people are able to remember more good things than bad things and when we do that, we find that all the measures, to some degree, converge. They don't converge 100%, but they all tell us the same answer. And when we find an individual where there's big differences, for example, family and friends say he's very happy, but he says he's unhappy, or vice versa, family and friends say he's very unhappy, or very happy, but he says he's unhappy, whichever. Then we see usually that person is going to have some problems, there's something strange going on. But in the majority of cases when people say they're unhappy their family and friends do too. And so we get a correlation of 0.5 say between taking 5 family and friends reports and what the person says. So, we start to get confidence again that the measures are valid. Another thing that sort of tell us about the validity of the measures is that you can predict their future behavior. So, for example, if you ask people how satisfied are they with their life at age 18 or 20, we see that the people who are more cheerful, more satisfied early in life later succeed in certain ways. For example, in age 38 they have higher incomes, controlling for other things like their parental income, their occupation, and so forth. So that's interesting, happy people making more money. We also see that happy people later, are more likely to live longer, have better health. We see that they are more likely to get married and stay married and not get divorced. You say well maybe their marriage was unhappy no, this is five, ten years before they ever got married when we took the happiness report and later we see that the people who are low on happiness way back then when they were 18 and 20, are fair amount more likely to get divorced or have any unhappy marriage. So this points to the fact that these aren't just made up at the moment, current mood. That there's something enduring and important that these measures are capturing. » So there you have it. Asking people how happy they are is the easiest way to measure happiness. And it turns out that this is a reliable measure of happiness as well. Now, returning back to the balloon metaphor. If the bigger the balloon, the happier you are then the question is, what affects the size of the balloon? One thing that surely affects it, is whether it has holes in it. Now, these holes don't have to be very big of course, even if they are microscopic holes. The air will slowly seep out of the balloon, as you might have discovered when a balloon got deflated overnight. And of course, if the balloon has a really big hole in it, it's going to deflate even faster. In this course, I'm going to be talking about seven deadly happiness sins. These sins are like the holes in the balloon. The more the number of sins you have or you commit, the faster your happiness is going to deflate. And likewise, the more frequently you commit a sin, the bigger the hole in the balloon is going to get and therefore, the faster your happiness will deflate. Another thing that affects the size of the balloon is whether air is being pumped into it. In this course, I'm going to be talking about seven habits of the highly happy. These habits are like the pumps, the more the number of pumps you have which are pumping air to the balloon, the happier you will be. Likewise, the bigger the pump, which means the stronger your habit, the bigger the balloon. So basically, you can think about it this way. There are two forces acting on the balloon at all times, the sins and the habits. The way to increase your happiness is to get rid of the sins, the holes in the balloon, and acquire the habits, the pumps. The more the number of sins you get rid of, which is the equivalent of patching the holes on the balloon, the happier you'll be. And likewise, the more the number of pumps you acquire, the happier you will be. And if you do a sufficiently good job of patching up all the holes and acquiring a sufficiently large number of pumps, your happiness balloon can be really quite big, and you can fly high. Now, I'm aware that a balloon doesn't need seven pumps to inflate it, and that it actually looks kind of funny, maybe more like an octopus than a balloon. I'm also aware that if you blow too much air into the balloon, it will eventually pop. But other than that, the balloon analogy works pretty well and I'm going to revisit this metaphor throughout this course. Our main objective in this course is to try and make your happiness balloon big. How? By getting rid of the sins and acquiring these happiness habits. But I should warn you that getting rid of these sins is not going to be easy and neither is it going to be easy to acquire the habits of the highly happy. However, if I have learned one thing from teaching for all these years, I have learned that there are some effective ways to eliminate the sins and acquire the habits. In the next video, I will tell you more about what it is going to take to get you to get rid of the seven deadly happiness sins, and what it's going to take to acquire the seven habits of the highly happy. So, [SOUND] stay tuned. [MUSIC]


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