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The Meaning of Happiness

Over the course of the past two years, This Emotional Life has invited us to consider happiness in our lives. The definition of happiness most agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, economists, positive psychologists and Buddhist Monks is not of happiness as the state of bursting with glee but of happiness as a sense of well being, contentment, the feeling of living a meaningful life, of utilizing one’s gifts, of living with thought and with purpose.

The sexiest part of the human body

“What is the sexiest part of the human body?” screamed the headline of a full-page movie advertisement in the Sunday New York Times.  The title of the movie escapes me now, but as an impressionable young man of 15 I eagerly read down the list of possible answers:  Is it the Eyes?  Lips?  Legs?  No, No, and No!  The nape of the neck?  Buttocks?  Breasts?  Genitals?  Incorrect!  My confusion grew, as did my doubts about the credibility of my 9th grade human biology teacher.  How could it not be the genitals?  What was Mr.

Happiness exercise: How to make people love you

People Will Like You: Active Listening

If you’re read psychology books, you’ve likely heard of the term “active listening.”  And it probably means something along these lines to you:

Mary: “I had a really good day at the office today.  It seemed that everything was going right.  I even got complimented by my boss.”
Nancy (active listening, echoing back what she just heard): “It sounds like you had a really good day at the office, and that you’re enjoying remembering it.”

Not your grandfather’s depression

My grandfather was a caricature of the stolid working-class, blue-collar, hard-scrabble miner whose parents came to this country with virtually nothing. Nonetheless, he had nearly a dozen children, bought some land in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and built himself a house. He provided for his family without fail, and although they were never rich, they always had a roof over their heads and food on the table.

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