Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Different Way to Think About Happiness

Michael S. Russo
Molloy College

I’ve spent the past twenty years thinking about happiness. My Master’s Thesis was on focused Stoic ideas about happiness, my doctoral dissertation dealt with the evolution of Augustine’s understanding of happiness, and more recently, I’ve been doing some work on Hindu and Buddhist conceptions of happiness.  You’d think that, after almost 25 years fixated on the question of happiness, I’d know by now what happiness is and what the best way to become happy would be.  The sad truth is that the more I explore this question, the more my own thinking about happiness evolves and mutates.  Happiness, I’ve discovered, is one slippery concept and there’s a reason why philosophical questions about its attainment have been debated since ancient times.

But the more I study the problem of happiness, the more I come to realize that we Americans have some particularly screwy ideas about happiness that may in fact get in the way of our own long-term happiness.  In particular, we seem to think that real happiness is measured almost exclusively by our present economic conditions (stuff + now = happiness).  Happiness is typically linked to GDP (Gross Domestic Product), a measure of how much we are producing and consuming at a given time.  The presumption is that the higher the GDP, the happier the people of a nation must be.  Americans have one of the highest GDPs in the world, so naturally, we must be among the happiest people in the world, right?

But what if the very lifestyle that we are living in the present is a threat to our long-term sustainable happiness and well-being?  Imagine that we Americans are like heroin addicts.  An addict needs his fix all the time in order to be happy, but the approach that he takes to achieving this happiness (abusing drugs) all but ensures that he can’t sustain his happiness in the long-term.  What if our happiness is like the happiness of the heroin addict?   In fact, using GDP to measure a people’s happiness is like asking a drug pusher whether an addict is happy while he is dwelling in a drug-induced state.  The addict may think he’s happy, and the pusher would say he’s happy, but would anyone of sense really believe that this is sustainable happiness?

Fortunately, there’s another way to measure the happiness of people rather than simply by using GDP.  Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation has developed what he calls the Happy Planet Index.  Marks takes for granted that things like a person’s present perception of happiness and his or her life expectancy are important criteria of happiness.  But he also takes into consideration the impact that an individual’s lifestyle has on the planet when determining whether that individual’s happiness is ultimately sustainable.  The formula he uses for making this determination looks like this:


  • Experienced well-being:  people around the world are asked to describe on a scale of 1-10 their experienced state of well-being, with 0 representing the worst possible life and 10 representing the best possible life.
  • Life expectancy:  based upon the 2011 United Nations Development Report.
  • Ecological Footprint: basically examines how much of the world’s resources are used by individuals in different nations to sustain their lifestyles. 


Here’s the way Marks explains his approach to happiness during his 2010 Ted Talk.


So, if instead of thinking about happiness purely in terms of the ability to consume in the present, we think about happiness in a more sustainable way, how does the United States rank compared to other nations of the world?  The Happy Planet Index has a nifty traffic light score to rank individual nations:  green (good), yellow (middling), and red (bad).


As you can see, the results are radically different depending upon which criteria for well-being we are looking at.  But if we’re really concerned with sustainable happiness, we need to look in particular at the HPI map.  As you explore this map, consider which are the best countries to live in for sustainable happiness and which are the worst.

I’d like to propose that what Marks says about the happiness of different countries applies to the happiness of individuals as well.  Think about your own life, for example.  Do you perceive yourself to be living a happy and healthy life?  If you do, that’s terrific, but, as Marks points out, you also need to consider whether your happiness is ultimately sustainable.

To determine this, take a few moments and complete the following Ecological Footprint survey.  Try to answer the questions to the best of your ability, and, if you’re uncertain about the answers to any of the questions, just make the best educated guess possible.


At the end of the survey, see how many hectares it takes for you to live the lifestyle that you do.  1.9 hectares would be ecologically ideal, but anything under 2.5 hectares would indicate a more or less sustainable lifestyle.  What was your score on this survey?  How many planets would it take to sustain the kind of lifestyle that you live if everyone on the planet chose to adopt it?

The question that we all need to ask ourselves in the end is whether the perceptions we have about our own happiness correspond with the reality of whether or not our happiness is ultimately sustainable.  Marks seems to suggest that, if there’s a real dichotomy between the two, our happiness is based upon delusion—a delusion that I would argue is similar in many ways to the delusion an addict would have about his own happiness.  At the very least, becoming aware of this dichotomy should make you start to ask some very fundamental questions about the validity of our Western, materialistic notions about happiness in a world characterized by an ever-increasing scarcity of resources.  

53 comments:

  1. It was crazy to learn that I scored an 8 on the ecological test. I knew that I was going to score high but I didn’t think I would score higher than the average which is 7. I would consider myself a very happy person. Granted I’m not happy every single day of my life, but I don’t think I would change anything about my life. I have a great family, relationships, and enjoy my after school job. True, I would like to be wealthier so I didn’t have to work while I attend school, but working doesn’t make me unhappy.
    I certainly agree with some of Mark’s way to be happier. Giving back is always a way to change your outlook on life. Giving to those are in need gives a person a sense of dignity and that they are making a difference in the world. Maybe that’s why I consider myself happy, because I’m going to school to become a social worker. I’ve always liked helping people and now I’ve found a way to make a living and do what I love at the same time. Volunteering is another way to give back to the community. I’ve never met a person who volunteered and said they didn’t feel happier after. I think all people have an innate wanting to help others.
    Another way Mark says to approach happiness is to keep learning. I’ve attending many classes where there was an older person just auditing the class. Keeping your mind fresh as you age helps keep you healthier and actually prevents Alzheimer’s. Constantly becoming aware of what is new and fresh is a key way we stay with the present.

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    1. I guess us Alyssa's think alike lol I have to agree with what you said about giving back. I have the same outlook on life. As you mentioned you are going to school to do something you love but also help others in the process, that is that same reason I chose nursing. Knowing that I made a difference in someones life makes me happy and I can't help but smile. I believe giving back in the most important key in improving ones wellbeing.

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    2. I agree with Alyssa. I believe that volunteering and giving to people is one of the best ways to feel true happiness when someone greatly appreciates it. You get a feeling inside that you know you've done something good for someone and you would love it if it was the other way around and someone did something like that for you.

      -Rachel Wisniewski

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  2. When watching Nic Marks video I had to agree with what he was saying. I believe happiness comes from within. You can not be happy if you are always fixated on the future. I believe you have to live for now. Life is short and we should not take for granted what we have. We live in a country were we are very fortunate. We have a roof over our heads, loving families, and we are receiving a great education at Molloy College.
    One of my favorite quotes is "Happiness is not measured by what you hold in your hand but what you hold in your heart" The things we have today will not matter tomorrow. When we die the only thing we take to heaven is our memories, we can not take our wealth, so why fixate yourself now on having the best when one day that will not matter. The most important thing to me is family. When I am around my family I am genuinely happy, nothing else matters to me. I can be having the worse day imaginable and then I get home and see my family and everything is forgotten.
    Nic Marks mentioned in his video 5 things that improve our wellbeing. Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. I couldn't agree more with these 5 things. As I mentioned before when I am connected to my loved ones I am most happy. When I'm having a bad day I like to go for a run which lets me notice the world we live in. We learn something new everyday which keeps us on our toes and the last thing that improves our wellbeing, from experience I feel most rewarded when I help others. Marks mention giving two people 100 dollars and the person at the end of the day who used the money to help others will be the happiest and I have to agree. When you help others you can't help but walk away with a smile on your face knowing you just changed someone's day. I believing giving and helping others is the most rewarding, this is one of the main reasons I am going to Nursing School. I want a career that will benefit others and that will put a smile on my face. I believe I live a happy life style. I do have many material things that help me to be happy but if I had to give it all away tomorrow I would because I have a family that loves me and I have my health. The two most important things that I believe help you live a happy life.


    To answer the question above about the Survey is; I received a score of 7 which means it would take 4 planets to sustain the kind of lifestyle that I live.

    alyssa barker

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    1. I agree with Alyssa and I love her happiness quote in the top paragraph. I agree that the things we have today will not matter tomorrow and I feel more people should watch Nic Marks video. I also feel that when you help someone and the sense of relief and happiness you have after helping them and changing their day just as Alyssa has stated.

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    2. I agree with Alyssa with stating giving back is one of the main reasons she is going through with Nursing School because even though I am going through with a different career path than she is, I can easily say the feeling that I might be improving a child's life far beyond just teaching them makes me that much more excited to become a teacher.

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  3. I agree with marks approach to happiness. I do feel that we are worried about wealth (money) more than anything else. I do not believe that happiness is based on what we have because a person can have everything they ever imagined and yet still be unhappy. I believe happiness comes from within, so when mark said happiness should include social justice, sustainability & peoples well-being I agreed 100%.
    In the USA everyone is so worried about having more material things & money rather than working on themselves. I agree with marks 5 steps to being happy, connecting, being active, taking notice, learning, & giving all make a person feel good about themselves no matter what kind of day you are having. Without any of those 5 steps I do not believe a person can truly be happy.
    I don’t feel my life is completely sustainable. I feel I could be happier if I worked on some more of the 5 steps to being happy that mark spoke about. I don’t think that anyone can really say their life is truly sustainable.
    -Tiffany

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    1. I agree with Tiffany because we look at the stars and celebrities seemingly having everything going for them. Yet need to turn to drugs because they are that unhappy. Money can not by happiness and neither does power. We really need to rethink how we live our lives today.

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  4. I was so taken back when I received my results on the survey. I scored a 6, meaning that there would need to be 4 Earths to fulfill the resources required to remain a stable lifestyle.
    Futhermore, along with Mark’s video clip, I believe that he has some valid points about happiness. Happiness itself isn’t guaranteed to everyone, meaning that you aren’t going to be happy your whole life from the start. I think that in order truly be happy, you have to face obstacles and get through them, to show how strong you are and if you can handle some difficult situations in your life, you have the potential to be a happy person. Also, people take happiness for granted. At any given moment in your life, something tragic could happen and you may never be happy again. I believe that if you life a healthy life, with a loving family and an education of some kind, you have great potential to be happy.
    Going back to Mark’s video clip, he states that there are 5 ways that people on the planet could be happy without ruining the planet itself. The 5 ways include being connected to family and friends, being active, taking notice, keep learning, and to give to others. My favorite one out of all of those is to give to others. Giving back is always a generous thing to do and it shows what kind of person you truly are. Some people might take this for granted but when people don’t, the person giving always feels better about themselves, feeling good inside, being happy. I know from personal experience that when I give something to someone whether it be my time or something physical, and they truly appreciate it, I feel true happiness. Mark really describes in detail that there are other ways to be happy in life without ruining the planet. When people really begin to notice this, they will take it more seriously and find other outlets to feeling true happiness, other than just being wealthy.

    - Rachel Wisniewski

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  5. After watching the video i whole heartedly agree that we must change our thoughts and ways. Marc's shares with us the true meaning of happiness. Most often people today, people focus more on power, self worth, social statue, and the job they have. Rather than the basic essentials of happiness. Sadly we have lost sight of what truly matters. The world we live in today, the gift of life that we have, and the precious commodity of family have fallen to the waste side.

    We should implement Marc's suggestion of connecting,being active,taking notice,learning and giving into our everyday life. to ensure in a more positive future. We should not take anything for granted because we do not know what life has in store for us. In life people should try to be truly happy. I envy the people in Costa Rica and feel more nations should look to them as an example and role model. Perhaps we might learn something. The government officials and leaders of all the nations in the world should take Marc's ideas seriously to ensure a better tomorrow for our future generations.

    On the survey i scored an 8, making it 5 plants to sustain my life style. This cause a red flag in my mind that i NEED to re-evaluate my life ASAP!

    -Casey Naab

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    1. I agree with Casey 100%. But I'm just throwing out there that if you get a higher score than average on the survey doesn't make you a bad person! But I completely agree that we should not take things for granted because you never know what life has in store for us and what opportunities will come our way. When Nic Marks was talking about Costa Rica my reaction was the same as yours. I envy them; what can i do to be more like them? I agree that everything in life is a learning experience and we should take what life gives us in stride. I am all about a positive life style and recognizing these 5 aspects that Nic Marks stated is a great start to changing this world around.

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  6. Speaker Nic Marks made an outstanding speech about the ecological footprint. I strongly agree with his statement about people being focused on the future and not living life as it is in the present. I believe that people who live for now will be much happier and less stressed than those who are always worried about what is going to happen. During the clip there was a chart referred to as “the world we all want,” I feel that the ratio was on point and although wealth contributes to the way we live, people would much rather happiness and love. Nic Marks stated, “We all need to love and be loved in life.” This statement made by Marks is something everyone in the world will agree with, no matter where youre located in the world.
    Marks thinks that the quality of life is measurable from the connection we have with others, and they way we look at the world rather than what most believe is wealth and productivity. I 100% agree with Marks beliefs on the five ways to wellbeing. The five ways he stated in his speech were connections, keeping active, taking notice of the world, learning and giving back. My favorite way that I believe contributes to peoples’ happiness is number 5. I believe that those who spend their money on other people feel better about themselves verses if they were to spend money on something that can go on living without. I can relate to this form of wellbeing because I always go out of my way to help others, it may just be a cup of coffee, or buying someone a meal if they have a sign that says food but the look of relief and happiness on their faces is something I love to see. I cannot help myself when I see these people and I can definitely agree that spending my money on them if much more satisfying than buying myself a new sweater or something unnecessary.
    I scored an 11 on the ecological footprint which is extremely bad…… apparently living the way I do would be 7 earths. I should probably change that and recycle and maybe carpool to school more often. After watching this video and getting my results from the quiz I believe people in the U.S. and I, should change our ways to improve happiness throughout the U.S. and focus on what truly matters.

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    1. Yes, I agree. For whatever reason we always worry about the future and really forget to live in the present. How we live in the present has a huge impact on our future. We must change the way we are living and yes, give more than receive. Although giving money may make others happy and in return make us happy, many don't have much to give. I believe doing other good deeds that doesn't involve money can also make us happy because we are doing a good for our planet.

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  7. I agree with the approach of happiness. Because even though Costa Rica is not a wealthy country it still knows how to be happy because happiness isn't made by money it’s made by the good vibes around you. Also they average live to the age 78 1/2 that's more than America for people to live off of happiness love and health and not money is a great thing. In America everyone is worried about who has the nicer car who has the bigger house who has nicer clothes when in Costa Rica they all share, they all help each other to be the best and to look the best. Happiness is not made by money, it is made by Marks 5 ways to happiness. Being active makes everyone happy. I never heard of someone walking out the gym unhappy but I did hear people walking out fast food stores unhappy. I believe that one of the biggest problems in America is bad health because not enough people are active. Parents don’t let their kids leave the house anymore because it is not safe so video games have taken over kid’s life. Also learning is a good way to be happy everyone wants to know how to do everything so learning will be the best way to do it. Just be happy with what you have. Some people don’t have anything that you have like a loving family a safe country and money to actually buy food. Some people have to work double the amount of time as us with half the pay.

    --Connor Slane

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    1. I agree with Connor , that happiness isn't about having the material things and how many people think that's what causes someone to be happy . For example, Costa Rica doesn't have all those material things and they live a more happier healthy life then other countries. I also agree that Nic Marks 5 ways to well- being can make one happy .
      - Meagan Allegrini

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    2. I agree with what you are saying about how being active will ultimately make people happy. I've never heard of someone who is very active being unhappy... Our country is so obsessed with processed food and eating things that make us happy for a short amount of time. To have lasting sustainable happiness we need to invest in bettering our health and eating natural unprocessed food. I agree that people should be making a greater effort on building loving relationships with their family and focusing on health because it will lead people to live long happy lives.
      -Juliette Barcia

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  8. Helping produce a greener planet and using fewer resources can best explain Marck’s approach to happiness. When accomplishing this we can increase happiness and the life expectancy. I agree with this approach because if we continue using our natural resources and polluting we wont live to be happy. It can be concluded, that Costa Rica has the highest level of well-being and also life expectancy. Costa Rica achieved number one in the Happy Plant Index by using less resources and being more environmental aware. If all countries followed in Costa Rica’s footsteps our plant as a whole would be much happier.

    After taking the survey I was surprised to find out I scored a 6 and it would take 4 plants to provide all of the natural resources. The average for all people of the World is 2.5 hectares. I would consider myself to be a very happy person. I love my family, school, friends, and boyfriend. I would not change anything about my life, but I would like to become more environmental friendly.

    Bridget Moore

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  9. I agree with what Marks had to say about happiness, it comes from within. Most of us worry too much about material goods and money, we expect those types of things to keep us happy but in reality they wont, and if they do it’s only for a very short period of time. I also agreed with his example about the 2 people who where given $100, the one who spent it on other people turned out to be happier at the end of it and that’s what we all feel like after volunteering or helping someone who is in deep need. I do volunteer work whenever I have the chance to; at the end of the day when you look back what you did for someone else is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Money and materials do not come close to that feeling nor can you compare them.

    I would have to agree with Mr. Marks and his 5 steps to being happy; if you do work on all 5 of those things then you will truly be happy. We all have things to work on from his ways he stated but if we do keep working on them we will surely live a happy life. The 2 points out of the 5 that I do enjoy most are giving back and staying connected with my family. Family will always be there for you and giving back is a great feeling as I stated in the previous paragraph.

    We look up to all these famous people but at the end of the day are most of them even happy? Some unfortunately turn to drugs because they are unhappy. That goes to prove that you can have all the money and materials in the world just like they do but at the end of the day they aren’t truly happy.

    Looking at my survey results I received a and that clearly shows I need to make a couple of changes.

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    1. I agree that happiness comes from within, The more time someone spends getting to know themselves the happier they seem to be. This would include meditation and anything else someone finds enjoyable and self promoting. Materialistic people are usually the most unhappy which I am not surprised by because one whose life can be defined by a thing, is nothing worthwhile. I completely agree with giving being extremely important. It definitely leaves you with a great feeling. The 5 steps to well-being are important.
      -Nick Lodato

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  10. When I took the survey, my ecological footprint was 5 hectares and that it would take three worlds to exist to have enough resources for everyone to have an ecological footprint of 5 hectares. My first thought was I thought that was crazy and I needed to immediately turn off all the electricity in my house. But, after finding out my score, I came to the conclusion that I consider myself to be an overall happy person. Just like everyone else, I have my days that I think my world is coming to an end, but I consider myself to be extremely lucky and blessed with my family and friends, having a job, studying to become a Speech Pathologist, having a roof over my head, and being healthy. With these things in mind alone, they sustain can my happiness much more than any materialistic thing can.
    When watching Nic Mark’s video, I 100% agree that we need to start looking at other ways to sustain happiness other than obsessing over wealth and social status in society. Overall I find the ways that people try to be happy are just titles and do not make people genuinely happy. After watching the video, I agree with the five methods that can lead us to happiness and that my happiness too, can be sustainable. The first, to connect, I believe is really one of the key methods to lead a happy life. My relationships with my family, friends, teachers, and my dog are everything to me. I believe when you begin to meet the right people and create relationships that make you feel good about yourself and your life; you are on step closer to being sustainably happy. Another method that really stood out to me was to take notice. I feel that if you take notice to your feelings, aspirations, relationships, and everything else pertaining to your life, than you are able to figure out what aspects of your life need fixing or do not need fixing in order to lead a happier life. Lastly, the most important method that I find could be the overall turning point in today’s need for happiness is to give back. Giving back I feel is the ultimate reward in life. You yourself not only feel good, but you make people around you feel good as well. Small acts of kindness can go a long way. When giving back, you don’t focus on your needs, but you begin to focus on other people and their needs. This leads us to focus on the more important things in life other than your wealth or your social status or how many nice things you have. If we begin living simplistically and start recognizing that our lives can be happier without the needs for materialistic things and making “ecological footprints”, we are one step closer to a happier planet.

    Colleen Lynch

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  11. Nic Marks thinks quality of life is measurable, and that true contentment comes not from the accumulation of material wealth but from our connections with others, engagement with the world, and a sense of autonomy. I agree with his views on happiness. When you stay connected with people and communicate with loved ones more it brings joy. When I go to the gym or go to practice, you feel better afterwards. People feel accomplished and it helps with stress making you feel better. People forget to stop and look around at all the magnificent things that are around. When you take notice, you can appreciate everything that you have and everything that you are grateful for. When you learn new things, you are broadening your horizons and becoming more innovation. And when you give you have a sense of happiness knowing that you helped out someone. Oprah around the holidays used to give away a bunch of luxurious gifts around Christmas time to her fans in the crowd. One year she decided to give thousands of dollars to each one of her fans in the crowd but they had to spend the money on others. This made headlines and the fans could not get over how happy they were about helping others.
    The United States of America is not focused on the important things in life. We are always focused on new trends and what make us happy in the moment. What I found very interesting about Costa Rica is that they are focused more on “going green” which made me realize the more I recycle and become more ecofriendly the better it makes me feel. My survey score was a 7 which means it would take 4 planets to sustain the kind of lifestyle that I live. This was a revelation to me. After taking that survey, it makes me want to become more fuel-efficient.

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    1. I agree with what you had to say about the Marc's ways to happiness. I had no idea that Oprah did that for her fans and I liked that you brought that up. I also agree that the United States isn't focused on the important things in life. The information about Costa Rica from the video I thought was interesting as well. -Olivia Gorman

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  12. I found Marks approach to happiness very fascinating and I do believe what he is saying to be true. In the culture we live in the media is always putting out the idea that the only way you can become happy is to be beautiful and wealthy. If this idea was really true than why are so many wealthy beautiful people abusing drugs? Marks proves that the real way to be happy is to value the environment and each other. In order to be happy for a long time and not just temporarily it makes sense to just stay in the present moment and to be mindful of the people around you and the difference you can make in your life. When we focus on how to make the most money, and having a huge array of material items we actually become unhappy. I feel in my own life I often focus on the future too much and having the best new thing. Our obsession with having everything leads us to living selfish lives filled with greed. I think most people should focus on examining their own flaws in their lives and what they could do to change them to make a difference in the world they live in. The people who really make a difference in the world are the ones who are selfless, mindful and generous people because living your life in that way ultimately makes you happy. Nic Marks mentions that the five ways to ultimately be happy are connecting, being active, taking notice, keep learning, and giving. His ideas makes sense to me to me because I think people want to live a life worthwhile and ideally want to impact someone’s life in a positive way but they are really held back by all the technology and pressure to be successful in the future. This is shown in the way that Costa Rica is the happiest ranked country with people living long lives and positively impacting the environment which shows that if the government focused more on alternative energy and ecological advances our country would probably be happier. My ecological footprint was a 5 compared to the world average of just 2.5 which is surprising because I thought I was just living a normal life. This really shows how much damage the U.S. particularly is causing to the earth, and that my happiness really isn’t sustainable.
    -Juliette Barcia

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    1. I definitely agree with you 100% I feel that in life we often are so selfish and wrapped up in materialistic things and money, we forget what’s truly important. I like how you noted that people should focus on examining their own flaws in their lives and what they could do to change them to make a difference in the world they live in. I feel that this is essential into becoming happier, if we accept our flaws and change them it would not only benefit us but the people around us.

      Breanne Bonfiglio

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  13. Doesn't anyone disagree with Mark's position? I mean, if you really took it seriously, you'd have to make some significant changes to your way of life to make your happiness truly sustainable (e.g., use public transportation more, avoid the AC when it's not that hot out, turn the heat down to 65 degrees, eat much less meat, etc) I bet that not one of you would be willing to do this.

    So how can you be in agreement with his position? Would someone enlighten me?

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    1. I believe watching the video and taking the quiz makes us start to wonder about all of those examples in your comment. But i also agree with you, i dont think anyone is willing to do that because we are so comfortable with using our own cars and consuming so much electricity daily that if it were to be taken away from us we would be in huge shock.

      -Gabrielle Velasquez

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  14. Many people today feel that happiness comes from the material things , They feel that having a nice house , a nice car, nice clothes and etc will make them happy. Many don't know that is called shallow happiness, all those things make you happy just for that moment in time. Nic Marks goes beyond shallow happiness , he feels that living a sustainable life will make one happy for not just a moment but for a life time.
    In Nic Marks video he clarifies how using less resources and less of the planet that it will make not just us happy, but the planet happy. He displays charts explaining how using more resources creates stress on the planet . He also displays another chart showing the many different countries and how much resources they use and how many years of happiness they have . It showed the United States using the most resources to live a happy life style , then it shows Costa Rica using less resources then us and living a longer much happier life . This made me realize that we don't need all these resources and materials to live a happy healthy life . That by not abusing our plant and causing stress that we will go a long way. Nic Marks five ways to well - being also interested me because just by connecting with others, being active , taking notice of things, learning more about things in the world and giving can make one happy. The one I favored was giving . I feel that giving to others is a huge part of happiness , not only for the person getting what one gives but for the giver too. I know that when I give it makes me happy that I did something to make the other person happy . These are the factors that everyone should look at , I feel this video made me rethink and will make others rethink about what happiness is really about .
    After taking the Quiz I scored 13 , which means it would take 8 planets to sustain the kind of lifestyle that I live. I was shocked I didn't think I would score that high .
    -Meagan Allegrini

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    1. I agree with Meagan about shallow happiness. People think that those material things are going to keep them happy in life, when in reality things just don't work that way. It is better to follow what Marks says to create happiness that will last a life time, rather than shallow happiness which will only keep you happy for a short period of time.

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  15. Nic Mark’s connection with ecological footprint and sustainable happiness is something nobody ever thinks of. Majority of people just think on a day to day basis and what makes them temporarily happy. The reason nobody ever thinks of the future and “down the road” happiness is because it is scary. And like Nic Mark says, “Fear in the organism, is linked to the flight mechanism.” This basically means that people won’t think about their ecological foot print or their sustainable happiness because it is a frightening thing. Nic Mark hopes to open people’s eyes to the realness of the situation, and change the way in which countries are looked at. The Happy Planet Index is his new system which measures how successful a country is at creating happiness for its people, while also measuring the country’s ecologic footprint.
    My ecological footprint score was an 11. So according to the survey, I am a high risk individual and am leading a selfish life. There would have to be 7 planets in order to sustain the people of the world if they all scored an 11. While this is obviously a high number, I would say I am a happy person and do good for others. I do what makes me happy every day.
    What I don’t understand is what if someone’s hobby is actually leaving a large ecologic footprint?
    Nic Mark insinuates that we can all be happy and achieve personal well-being without leaving a huge footprint. I’m not sure if that is entirely true. What I do agree with is there must be a balance in life, and he talks about that in the 5 ways to well-being. Connecting with loved ones and being active will help. Taking notice to what’s going on around you is important because it means having the ability to see and adapt to change which most people refuse to do. Staying curious about life, and giving are all good things. Happiness can definitely be achieved within many different ways.

    - Nick Lodato

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    1. You made me chuckle: a hobby out of leaving a large ecological footprint! Well, no one could ever accuse you of not being provocative!

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    2. I mean a hobby like flying or driving.. that would leave a high ecologic footprint
      -Nick Lodato

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  16. I strongly agree with Nic Mark. I as a Hispanic have evidenced what he is talking about. Much of Latin America is not as wealthy as Americans are, but they appear to be very happy. Not only that, but since they don’t have much to loose to begin with, they have strong foundations of happiness, for which if they still loose the little they have, they would still be happy because they appreciate the important things in life, like their families.
    Nic really is inspirational and presented a reality, which I think as Americans may be hard to achieve due to the lifestyle we are used to living. The reality is that humans can be happy by using little of the earth’s resources, but America is known for it’s productivity and success, but not happiness, just as Kennedy stated. We must learn to consume less (including myself since I scored a 12..yikes!!) and start to make an effort to follow the 5 components that help to lead to happiness.
    I consider myself to be happy and although I scored high, I don’t believe these factors are what determine my happiness. I am a person that is happy if others are happy, for which that is why I joined the nursing field. Now if most of my resources where taken from, I would be upset of course but would still remain happy because I would still have the things that matter to me, which is my family, and our health.

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    1. I agree with you. many Hispanic countries dont have much to loose to begin with. with that being said, they are also religious and depend on their religion to help them with whatever struggle they may be going through. they can live so happily in conditions americans could never imagine living in. and yes, family and health is very important! also, marks keys to happiness are not for everyone so it's good that you know those factors are not what determine your happiness; they don't determine mine either.

      -Gabrielle Velasquez

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  17. I agree with Nic Marks’ approach to happiness, especially when he states that we are only worried about financial progress which only adds to the human greed. When in reality, money is not the only thing that will make someone happy; it may add to the happiness but it certainly will not fulfill it entirely. I believe I live a happy life, but analyzing it in the way he does makes me believe I may be living happy for the now and for the wrong reasons versus sustainable happiness in the future as well. I would like to think that I take part in all 5 approaches to make myself happier, most importantly the act of giving to others because I don’t think there is a better satisfaction than doing good for someone else. I think that is one of the many reasons why I want to be a teacher, because I believe there is far more to it than simply teaching students new things, I would love to make a difference in at least one child’s life when I become an educator. I also agreed with his statement on that we all have this “nightmare-ish” vision on how the world will be in the future and so concerned with all the problems we encounter, that if we spent half as much time thinking about the solutions rather than we do on the problems, we might be better off.

    While taking the survey I had a feeling my ecological footprint would be pretty big but I did not think that I would score an 8 meaning 5 planets would be needed to sustain my life style, this outcome definitely makes me reconsider some things and evaluate what I should be doing differently in life.

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    1. I know I scored an 8 too. I didn't think I would score that high and now I feel bad. I'm definitely going to reconsider some things in my life so that I'm able to lower my ecological footprint.

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  18. Our dominant measure of progress (GDP) in society measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile”- Robert Kennedy. I could not agree more with what Robert Kennedy stated and Nic Marks is displaying. While Marks makes some brilliant valid points that would indeed benefit this world as a whole and each human individually, I unfortunately think that his goals are a long ways away from being achieved. I say this because it would not be just a few million mindsets to change, but the mindset of a whole entire world. A world already accustomed to its current amenities, habits, and indulgences whether it by environmentally approvable or not. “For the greater good of the world” would have to be the new-accustomed mindset to achieve this. Something I foresee being rather difficult in this egocentric, self-seeking world mindset that we all currently thrive in. Please do not mistake my realistic point of view for disagreement with Marks proposition. I one hundred percent believe and agree with what he is saying. With that being said, I admire Nic Marks idea of the radio example he provided when he asked the question of why everyday when he turns on the radio he is not hearing how much energy certain countries used the day before. Our media-marinated culture would get the wake up call we so desperately need if more ideas like this could be applied on a universal level. I know I got my personal wake up call after I finished the ecological footprint quiz and obtained a final score of 7. The worst part is, I actually thought I was living a pretty ecologically ideal life. Overall, Marks propositions are great and I know I will personally start to make more changes to make a less impacting ecological footprint, in order to take part in a process where we “create a world where happiness does not cost the earth” (Nic Marks).

    Cassie Palmer

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  19. What I found most interesting was the Happy Planet Index and I noticed some countries that people may never even heard of are the most happiest. The United States is covered in red and it shows how unhappy it is. Both of my parents migrated from Ecuador and I’m first generation American. They have always made annual trips back and forth to Ecuador with my sister and I and it really opened my mind to a different culture and society. Everyone outside of the US views it as a land of opportunity and in some sense sure I agree, in others no, I don’t because it is almost a false hope. People come here with great expectations and what I see most in this country is greed. Everyone wants to be the best student, the best worker and the best person in general, but they forgot about their happiness and giving back to others. There are so many people who have little to nothing around the world and yes, even in America are the happiest people.
    While marks mentioned Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, I think a lot of Americans have forgotten what MLK went through for our society to be the way it is today. He had such hope for this country and we have made huge strides since then. I just think so many people have forgotten about revolutionists and their theories. People also need to be more curious as to what is going on around the world because it will make people more aware and hopefully more grateful of what they have. I agree with marc that the government and business communities need to be paved with the 5 ways to happiness. In the United States, let alone in New York, everyone is always moving at a fast pace and forget about others around them. We are so consumed with the idea of our future. Marks also mentioned society uses fear to grab people’s attention which is very true. As a student and I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself, am very afraid of even being considered into grad school. Every day I worry and think about my future. But why? I’m not there yet and I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time until that time comes for me to worry.
    Connecting to our loved ones, being active, taking notice, learning and giving are ways marc believes are keys to happiness. It is difficult enough waking up for class and sometimes difficult for a person to make a long distance call across the globe. I think it is up to the individual to take those keys into effect. If one has the mentality to stand up and say they want to be happy then they will. But there are also people who have probably tried those ways and are still unhappy people and turned to psychologists or drugs or simply do not have enough times like most Americans. Marks has some very good points but he cannot change the way of every human around the world. I also scored 7 hectares and 4 planets.

    -Gabrielle Velasquez

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    1. I emigrated from the Philippines with my family so I understand what you mean. When I go back to visit my country, many people view anyone from the US as people flowing with money and happiness. It is a false hope, in a way, because they believe coming here will make them rich and make everything better. In reality, they still have to work hard just like everybody else and there is no instant gratification. The only thing I believe makes me and my family happy is that we look at the big picture and what is really important, not the money. Money adds to happiness, but it is not everything. What I think make us the happiest is that we are all together, and that we are all healthy. A good portion of the money we make here goes back to my extended family struggling in the Philippines. Giving back does make me happy, knowing that what little I give to them makes a difference in their life. It’s a much harder life, so I can appreciate how fortunate I am to be in the US.

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  20. After watching Marks video I agree 100% with his approach to happiness. I strongly believe that true happiness comes from within, and you can’t uncover that happiness when you’re always fixated on what’s next. The problem with many people today is that they don’t value the essentials in life that could potentially make them happy, but rather with the mindset of “more is better”. The “more is better” statement would go hand in hand with the need of more money or more materialistic things. The fault here is that these things in life don’t make you eternally happy; it’s only a temporary happiness. With that being said I felt that the most pertinent part of his speech was the five ways in which could lead to a better well being; connecting, being active, taking notice, continue learning, and giving. I believe that if everyone took part in this approach we could fulfill the notion of a happier life.
    With taking the survey I scored an 8 which means that it would take 5 planets to sustain my life style. I was shocked I scored this high, because I would like to believe that I am a happy person disregarding this score because I have everything that I need; that being a car, a house to live in, a family who supports me, and great friends.

    - Breanne Bonfiglio

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    1. I brought up the same points as you, or thought the five steps that Marks mentioned were the most moving. I enjoyed your outlook on the fact that material things can only make one temporarily happy. Happiness comes within, so if you're truly happy with the things that you do for yourself, to make yourself better then you can project that to other people and hopefully we can make it a domino effect. It is important to do things without thinking or knowing anyone is watching, that is when you will feel the best about it. When you don't need others to tell you what a great thing you did.
      -Carmela

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  21. I was shocked to learn that my ecological footprint was about 8 hectares while the average footprint for all people in the world was about 2.5 hectares. If everyone living today had an ecological footprint of 8 hectares, it would take 5 earths to provide all the natural resources needed.
    I found the map of the world that shows the different colors for the HPI of each country very interesting. America was in the red for HPI, however they were green for life expectancy and experienced well-being. What brought America down was ecological footprint. For this America was dark red. This just shows that living a happy life is affected by many factors.
    Marks gives a list of five ways to improve well-being. They are connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give. I very much agree with these five things. If people live by these five things, it makes way for a more positive future. As Marks makes clear, wealth does not equal happiness. While I agree with Marks on his opinion of happiness, I do not think I could apply all of these things to my life. I know that I would not be happy if I had to take public transportation instead of driving my car. Or if I had to open windows instead of put my AC on when it gets hot out. I think there are some parts of what he says that I could use in my life such as being active and keep learning.

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  22. I think the most interesting part of Nic Marks’ video was the five points he made to be happy (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give). I agree with every one of them. Being able to connect, to show emotion and to have a bond with anyone makes one feel important and have some sort of self worth, which also coincidentally is one of the tiers in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (something I am interested in). Being active is also very important because it really gets the blood flowing to your brain so you can perform at your best answering questions and thinking things through logically. It also releases endorphins that have motivational benefits and really changes a person’s mood. Taking notice was also an interesting point and something I would definitely pin for being happy. Being a well-rounded person, and being aware of what is going on, and how people feel, how people react to certain things is a crucial part of being a good person. I can guarantee the more knowledgeable and considerate you are, the more people will flock to you and make you a happier person.
    The keep learning aspect is also important because like Marks used as an example is just learning a new dish to cook. Using that tool will make one feel good about themselves and adds to their creativity. The last but certainly not least is to give. I personally believe that doing a deed for nothing other than the fact that you simply wanted to, without praise from another is the most genuine gift. People should try it more often, to do a favor without anyone looking so to speak.
    Another point I enjoy Marks made was about the Costa Ricans doing better than global average. They are the happiest nation on the planet. They use a quarter of the resources used, 99% renewable resources and invested in social programs. That is so impressive. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with it, but Costa Rica’s population is 4.805 million and Americas is 313.9 million. I don’t know if it is significant enough to compare to the US but that is a lot more people to disagree with, to inspire or influence to use their energy better etc. Not that I wouldn’t want to be considered the happiest country, but it’s something to think about, I don’t think it was necessarily fair to compare the two. Even so, there are things and changes we can make to go in the right direction. I also think a fair argument, going back to happiness rates, would be that I feel that there is a lot expected of America rather than anywhere else. Maybe I’m wrong but education rates and having the best of the best in technology is expected from us, so maybe there’s some sort of pressure there as to why people are unhappy and in the “red zone” here.
    -Carmela Cox

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    1. Uh oh I forgot to mention the score of my quiz! I scored an 8 when the average for everyone in the world was 2.5! That made me upset because I didn't think mine would be so much higher than everyone else's! It would take 5 Earths to provide all the natural resources needed if everyone scored that. I guess I should make some changes!

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    2. Very well said, Carmela! I didn't know about the relationship between endorphins or happy hormones and exercise until I took nutrition class last semester. I wasn't able to take the test on another computer

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  23. Sorry folks This is Myrtha Lamore *waving* lol. My browser doesn't support some of this sites features. My previous three paragraph feedback got lost. Here we go again:
    I agree with Mic Marks. I came from Haiti, a country that is considered one of the poorest countries on the planet. To add insult to injury, the government is very corrupted... One can imagine my euphoria when I found out my parents were sending me into the US to study. I felt like I was coming to the promise land. All that changed when I got a "reality check". From a bad marriage to having to raise my daughters alone...Am I miserable? Far from that! Disappointed, yes... because I used to measure my happiness on marriage, the money I made, my ex-husband's income until all was gone.
    When I went back to visit, I witnessed so many people, including some family members in the poorest conditions, But with the greatest smile and a peace of mind, despite their conditions of living because they have their families, they are very active... they do not possess fancy cars. When they walk to go shopping. They value learning and they share food and whatever little they have with others.
    In a nutshell, "Ubi panis ibi patria('where there is bread, there is my country')" is not necessarily true. When it comes to happiness, to which their own.

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  25. After taking the quiz I was surprised that I scored an 8, because I recycle, refill, and use bio-healthy products. I consider myself to be a happy person, I really agreed with what Marc said about changing our ways and it think that by following the five ways to happiness, we can do this. Marc said they were connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give. After watching the video I tried to think if I do those things already and I found that I don’t do all five of those things. I also found that I don’t do those things in full as well.
    I do connect with my friends and family on different levels, meaning I have relationships with people that I can share different things with. I try to take notice of the world and the people around me and I keep learning by doing my assignments and by reading things outside of class. But, I found that I could be even happier than I am right now by being more active and by giving. I also found it interesting that in the video one of the first graphs showed what people want in life, happiness, wealth, love and health. Happiness was the greatest amount, but I found it interesting that both love and health were close to the same amount as happiness, while wealth was significantly lower. I thought this showed that people equate happiness with love and being healthy, meaning having love or being loved, or being healthy, are things that make people happy.
    -Olivia Gorman

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  26. After watching the video it made me think, am I sustainably happy? Well I came to the conclusion that I am more satisfied than happy I guess, I can't complain. I feel that most people, including myself, tend to find something to achieve big or small, something to be proud of. As humans we always look for something to do, whether it be a career or activities. But after you complete what you have been working for what then? For some people it is hard to stop working or be idle. This is why sometimes you see an elderly man or woman bagging groceries in stores to "kill" or pass time. Is this happiness though? For some it is, it keeps them going, if they don't feel needed or have some form of contact with people it can affect their health. This, along with several other reasons, is why I do agree with Marks video on "Happiness", key points he mentions such as spending time with family, being active, being mindful, staying curious, and generous are all things that keep us mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.

    Being that we all live in a world of technology it is difficult for us not to find the need or excuse to use some form of technology. Perhaps advertising a better or smarter way of using materials and reporting relevant information would be more beneficial to us as a society than reporting on Justin Beibers every move.

    Also props to Costa Rica on living, then again I am sure their population is much smaller than ours, which means a lower usage of materials and technology. If people actually followed the steps suggested by Mark, little by little we would achieve the all around state of happiness. The score I received was six hectares, which would need four planets. I was not shocked, but this definitely caught my attention. It is important to always remind ourselves to live a healthy lifestyle, not only for yourself, but for our planet as well. Without it we have no home.

    Jocelyn Molina

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  27. I have also studied happiness for years, but feel like I can give a simple, practical way to increase happiness and you can test this theory by observing the happy and unhappy people you know. Here is the simple but powerfull advice that is repeatedly proven in research.

    GRATITUDE

    Grateful people are happy. Ungrateful people are not. Fact.

    Be genuinely grateful, be happy. Many other ways, but this is the single highest correlated trait to being happy. External things only account for 10% of our happiness. 50% we are born with and 40% we control. Choose gratitude, be happier.

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  28. I found Nic Marks lecture to be very interesting, and it made me think of myself and my own happiness. I consider myself to be a generally happy person, and I do follow the five things he suggested we do every day. I believe connecting with others, staying curious and active, being more mindful, and being more generous does impact my happiness in a positive way.

    I was surprised to find that my ecological footprint was calculated to be 7 hectares. It would take 4 earths to provide all the resources needed if everyone living today used 7 hectares as well. It made me consider how selfish I am compared to the rest of the world. I was born in the Philippines, and I often forget how fortunate I am to now live in the US, especially coming from a country with so much poverty. When I go back to visit, I notice how much I have, how much I use, and how much I waste and throw out compared to my relatives. But I also notice that my relatives are just as happy as I am, maybe even more. So I agree with Mic Marks, and that happiness does not and should not cost the earth. I believe we should transition to a less selfish life, because having the mindset that “more is better” will not lead to happiness.

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