Definition Rewrite-zzbrd2822

Purposeful Happiness in Life

Emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or jealousy are a natural part of human psychology. When people think of these emotions, they normally define these emotions with examples of short-term moments. Happiness is described as an array of positive emotions including joy, pride, or gratitude. It can also be defined as a mental and emotional state of well-being. Everyone, including me, has a different interpretation of happiness and what exactly is the cause of it. The value of happiness is deemed very high in today’s society, which is evident by the increasing search for guidance through motivational speakers, life coaches, and self-help books all with the main focus of increasing happiness. Happiness is defined in terms of personal positive feelings or personal gain. For example, eating their favorite food or going to the beach can make someone happy. However, the distinction between pleasure and life satisfaction is not regularly identified.

The feeling of pleasure and short-term happiness can scientifically be defined by chemicals released by the brain which work to regulate a person’s mood, perception and view on life. Four main brain chemicals that induce happiness include dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. In Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article, experts have shown that biological endogenic factors that influence happiness are divided into five major areas: brain and neurotransmitters, endocrine glands and hormones, genetic factors, physical health, and typology and attractiveness. Neuroscience studies have shown that parts of the brain (amygdala, hippocampus, and limbic system) and neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphin) play a role in the control of happiness. A few studies have also pointed to the role of cortisol and adrenaline (adrenal gland) and oxytocin (pituitary gland) in controlling happiness. These factors are also accompanied by exogenic influences such as social, cultural, and economic factors. Our actions, surroundings, and emotions in turn influence our body chemistry. Any action we perform, our body will react to. We have control over most of our emotions, as we are aware of what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The actions we perform will result in signals in our body to release these chemicals, which cause feelings of pleasure and happiness.

In terms of life-long happiness, that definition is a bit more complex.  People have a tendency to chase or long for a false sense of happiness, that is influenced by what others deem as proper success. This phenomenon is seen in the common personal desires for wealth, power, influence, or love. Materialistic values play a huge role in our society’s definition of happiness and success. The need for materialistic items is linked under the common desire for wealth as anything that has a monetary value is valued most by people. The author of Consumerism and its discontents, Tori DeAngelis, explains that in today’s world we own so many materialistic items and endless other commodities that weren’t around in the past 50 years, but are we any happier? Consumer culture has reached a high and there has been a decrease in life satisfaction. In psychologist Tim Kasser’s book, “The High Price of Materialism”, Kasser describes how people who organize their lives around extrinsic goals such as acquiring materialistic items, report greater unhappiness in relationships, poorer moods, and more psychological problems. He differentiates extrinsic goals, which focus on personal aspects such as, possessions, image, and status, from intrinsic ones, which aim at outcomes like personal growth and community connection. “Material things are neither bad nor good,” claims James E. Burroughs. “It is the role and status they are accorded in one’s life that can be problematic. The key is to find a balance: to appreciate what you have, but not at the expense of the things that really matter–your family, community, and spirituality.”

Happiness in life is usually identified by life satisfaction. Life satisfaction can be defined as the extent to which a person finds life meaningful, full, or of high quality. It can be seen as an endorsement of or positive attitude toward one’s life overall. As people reflect on their life choices and where they are today, they are inclined to think about how they feel about the journey and what they wish to accomplish with the rest of their time. The term “life satisfaction” is often used as a synonym for “happiness” and is often either associated with or identified as a substantial component of well-being. However, there are two individual implications of the word “satisfaction” that are used in various circumstances. In one instance, “satisfaction” can refer to the perceived fulfillment of expectations or living up to the standards. In other instances, “satisfaction” can refer to a feeling of being pleased with something. Due to these different implications of the word “satisfaction,” there are two different understandings of life satisfaction when analyzing a person’s emotions toward their life’s meaning or purpose.

The purpose of life is important for psychological and physical well-being, and it is both a goal for and a means to a fulfilling life. Purpose can be defined as a key, self-organizing life goal. Purpose is central in that when present, it is a prevalent theme of a person’s identity, and it is self-organizing in that it provides a basis for behavior patterns in everyday life. As a life goal, a purpose creates continual goals and targets for devoted efforts. Self-organization should be found in the goals people create, the effort that is devoted to these goals, and the process of decision-making when confronted with conflicting options of how to distribute limited resources such as time and energy. A purpose motivates a person to dedicate their resources in certain directions and toward specific goals and not others. This creates a sense of determination that fuels a person to continue toward their short-term goals. Terminal goals and projects are created and followed due to the existence of a purpose. As a life goal, a purpose cannot be achieved, but instead there are frequent objectives for efforts and resources to be devoted. A purpose creates a foundation that allows a person to be more resilient to obstacles, stress, and strain. If people have the assurance of a larger purpose or a bigger picture, they are more likely to be motivated to push through and hurdles.  Also, persistence is deemed easier with a life goal that resonates across time and context. Following the path and direction of a purpose can lead to other elements of well-being such as life satisfaction, serenity, and mindfulness.


DeAngelis, T. (2004). Consumerism–Consumerism and its discontents.

‌ Dfarhud, D., Malmir, M., & Khanahmadi, M. (2014). Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article. Iranian Journal of Public Health43(11), 1468–1477.

Hall, A. (2014). Life Satisfaction, Concept of. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research, 3599–3601.

‌Kashdan, T.B. & McKnight, P.E. (2009). Origins of Purpose in Life: Refining our Understanding of a Life Well Lived. Psihologijske teme, 18 (2), 303-313. Retrieved from

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9 Responses to Definition Rewrite-zzbrd2822

  1. davidbdale says:

    ZZBird, Do you want detailed comments on small aspects of your writing, or do you first want a very general impression of the overall argument?


    • zzbrd2822 says:

      Hi Professor Hodges! I would first like a general impression of the overall argument, but I would also appreciate detailed comments on some smaller aspects of my writing.


  2. davidbdale says:

    My first impression is that you write well, ZZBird, simply and clearly. I feel confident that you’ll share important information with me and help me understand something. That simple authority is crucial and you appear to have it.

    My second impression, before I even get through the Introduction, is that you’re spending a lot of sentences telling me what other people think about happiness. Again and again, you withhold YOUR definition in favor of describing common beliefs.

    You say, for example:
    —THEY normally define these emotions with examples
    —Happiness WOULD BE DESCRIBED AS an array of positive emotions
    —It CAN ALSO BE DEFINED AS a mental and emotional state
    —Everyone HAS A DIFFERENT INTERPRETATION of happiness
    —The value of happiness IS DEEMED very high
    —Happiness IS USUALLY DEFINED IN TERMS OF personal positive feelings
    —For example, SOMEONE MIGHT SAY

    That’s a lot of OTHER PEOPLE SAY language, ZZBird. Not too much if we know where we’re going and that the trip will be worth the wait. But you haven’t set the goal yet. We have to commit to the trip before you can expect us to follow through the preliminaries.

    At the end of your Introduction, you make this promise:

    However, the distinction between the emotion of happiness and the happiness in regards to your life satisfaction is not regularly identified.

    You will differentiate for us the difference between:
    1. the emotion of happiness
    2. the happiness in regards to your life satisfaction

    And then you disappoint us by starting the next paragraph with:

    Scientifically, happiness can be defined by chemicals

    Let’s take another look at the promise you made. You will help us distinguish between two imprecise phrases, the “emotion of happiness” and “happiness in regard to my life satisfaction.”

    I want to suggest that you need a better defined, more specific, let’s call it a “catchier” distinction to compel readers forward. Could it be you’re distinguishing between Pleasure and Happiness? Or, even better, that neither term needs the word “happiness” in it? The distinction between Pleasure and Fulfillment? Whatever terms you select, they shouldn’t both have the word happiness in them. Otherwise, the journey will not seem worth the effort.


  3. davidbdale says:

    Do a search for you and purge all use of 2nd-person language, ZZBird, starting with this in the second paragraph:

    Scientifically, happiness can be defined by chemicals released by your brain which work to regulate your mood, perception and view on life.


  4. davidbdale says:

    It’s useful and can be convincing to provide scientific evidence for your claims, but we’re not sure in your second paragraph what it means for chemicals to “regulate” or “induce” our moods.

    Even more importantly, since you’ve promised to distinguish between two types of happiness, we don’t know which ones are influenced by chemicals. Is it both? Just one? Which one?

    You make various claims about the chemicals. They:
    —regulate your mood, perception, and view on life
    —induce happiness
    —influence happiness
    —play a role in the control of happiness
    —have a role in controlling happiness

    Does that make us pawns or playthings of our body chemistry? Or do our actions, wishes, emotions in turn influence our body chemistry? Does “going to the beach” or “eating chocolate,” to use your examples, release chemicals that make us feel happy? Or does just thinking about the beach do the same thing? What about a fond memory? Does that make me happy, or does it just release chemicals that in turn make me happy? And if so, what’s the difference? Are we closer to defining happiness by saying, “when your blood is full of chemicals, no matter how they got there, you’re happy”?

    You can’t answer all these questions in one paragraph, but you need to acknowledge that these ARE THE QUESTIONS your reader is asking while reading your essay.


  5. davidbdale says:

    You open your third paragraph with:

    In terms of life-long happiness, that definition is a bit more complex.

    This indicates that you spent your second paragraph defining SOMETHING ELSE, without telling us what you were defining. I presume that thing was “the emotion of happiness” or maybe “short-term happiness.”

    Do you see the need for clear terms? If you meant to connect hormones and chemicals with PLEASURE, we’d understand better. We’re familiar with the idea that body chemistry can affect our moods and change the way we feel. You might still have to tell us whether we can feel pleasure without the chemicals. Isn’t chocolate pleasurable by itself? Do we need a rush of endorphins to enjoy it? (And, by the way, if somebody gave us some endorphins without the chocolate, would we feel the same pleasure?)


  6. davidbdale says:

    We all agree life-long happiness, or life satisfaction, or as I think we might want to call it, Fulfillment, is complicated. You point out yourself that it involves striving for attainment of multiple goals, among them: wealth, power, influence, or love.

    But you immediately simplify that complexity by devoting your attention to a critique of “Materialism.” DeAngelis say our things don’t make us happy. Got it. Kasser says “items” don’t provide release from “unhappiness in relationships” and bad moods. But which of your four goals are they talking about? Wealth? Power? Influence? Love? They’re talking about stuff. So is Burroughs.

    These authors want us to strive for the fulfillment intrinsic in “personal growth and community connection, family, community and spirituality” instead of things. Surely there’s overlap between those goals, which you might be calling intrinsic goals, and your “extrinsic goals” of power, influence, and love? Power and influence are wonderful advantages for improving our communities, to cite a single example. Maybe you mean “power for its own sake” is extrinsic while “power used to serve a greater good” is intrinsic. Whatever it is you mean, distinctions are critical here when you’re promising to draw lines between Pleasure and Fulfillment.


  7. davidbdale says:

    That’s enough for now, I think. Probably too much. But I know you want to do a good job, ZZBird, and that this topic is worth the effort. I’ll need your reactions and significant revisions to your draft before I can offer any more interference.
    Thanks! 🙂


  8. zzbrd2822 says:

    Thank you for describing specific revisions that need to be made! I will take all of your feedback into consideration and revise my essay.


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