In this essay I will explore with the use of evidence and research the statement made by Richard Layard that happiness comes from outside and within. The happiness comes from the outside will be shown to be directly attributable to having a stable relationship, enjoyable experiences and environment, whereas the happiness within section will focus on the brains activity, the body’s chemical make-up and the biological factors. Firstly I will explore the outside factors that can have a direct impact on people’s happiness.
Psychologist Richard Layard 2005 attempted to identify the various factors which make people happy, his ‘Big 7’ listed factors which prompted ‘feelings of happiness’ such as hood health, Satisfying work and personal freedom but he found the biggest and most important and most impacting factor on people’s happiness was close, personal relationships. When people have good strong relationships with friends and family they are happier and more content and better able to deal with issues and problems.
Robert Lane (2000) also showed our happiness is also linked to our close relationships with our family and friends. He found through our relationships we gain happiness, that peoples responses and actions towards us impact our sense of well-being and therefore how people like us or dislike us, how they feel and react towards us and how they treat us influences our mood and happiness. He also discovered that our happiness was based on the quality of our relationships of those nearest to us. John Gottman (1999) conducted a study analysing video tapes of many couples’s interactions over a period of 14 years.
Gottman found that couples who were more successful in their marriage tended to be more supportive and less critical of each other, which later led to being more tolerant of each other’s weaknesses. Everyone needs to feel needed, supported and valued from the very moment they are born. Mary Ainsworth (1978) suggesting that having a secure attachment at an early stage influences intellectual development, confidence with the world and are more comfortable with others, however there is a possibility of a reverse affect if the attachment or damaged or broken.
Children who have had insecure relationships are not able to have positive experiences in life due to lack of caring people around them to give emotional support. This research demonstrates the importance of external factors of nurture and how it affects happiness. Jarmila Koluchova (1972) conducted a study which indicated that having a lack of attachment in early life can be later reversed, she studied twin brothers who were discovered in 1967 aged 7 to have been mentally and physically abused by their step-mother, they were not able to walk or talk and were extremely scared of other people.
The brothers were taken away and treated in a hospital later to be put in a special needs school and with new foster parents. When the boys were 20 a follow up study was conducted showing the boys to still have a good relationship with their foster parents, their intelligence was above average and also to have built relationships of their own, this research has shown the effects of terrible early experiences can be reversed.
When Richard Layard talks about happiness comes from within I believe it’s based on factors which do not influence us from what or who is around us but instead he is referring to the brain or biology, peoples own thinking and feelings. There are many different parts which make up the brain which have different jobs. There is a section of the brain called the Limbic system which is involved in emotional responses. One of the main functions of the brain is memory.
It would be extremely difficult to overestimate the importance of memory in our lives, many say memories make us who we are some are happy and some are sad, but it is these memories which make us who we are. On the 27th march 1985, Clive Wearing woke up from sleeping extremely confused and with a high temperature, after visiting the doctor the second time he was correctly diagnosed with a virus which had affected the hippocampus section of his brain. This illness had left him unable to form new memories and difficult for him to recall his past life memories. This is because the episodic memory was extremely damaged.
He remembered his wife Deborah and also his love for playing the piano. When he tries to recall information he becomes very irritated as he can’t recall much but when he plays music he the panic of being lost in time is temporally calm. Richard Davidson investigated the effects of meditation on right and left front brain activity. The study consisted of two groups of volunteer participants that were highly pressured workers. The findings revealed that the group that received meditation training became significantly happier than the other group who had not yet received the training.
An EEG also revealed increased activity in the front of the brain on the left side (the area associated with happiness), as well as developing a stronger immunity to the flu virus. This study shows how it is possible to control thoughts, feelings and behaviour and alter the way the brain operates to live a happier life. To conclude, happiness is a result of both inside and outside influences. It is possible to control and shape the brain in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours to be happy, through such mediums as meditation.
Although this will not change outside influences, it will change our perception, helping us cope better with situations. ‘Nature’, (genetics and cognitive tendencies) and ‘nurture’, (relationships and experience) contribute to the levels of happiness of an individual. These are interlinked with each other, as factors from within will impact external factors, likewise, adversities of life will affect us within. In the words of Richard Layard (2005) “Happiness comes from outside and from within’’. The two do not contradict each other. Word count 988 Task2
The skill which I think has improved during this module is planning out my essay. Previously I would not plan my essay and just begin without giving it any thought and then later struggle on how to continue the essay or even finish. Planning has allowed me to read through various chapters in my module book making note of relevant information which I would later be able to use in my essay. Making notes also allowed me to link various studies from the module making it easier rather than to be going back and forth in my essay trying to make it all link From completing the assignments I believe my strengths have got stronger.
I have always been good at time keeping and using my time effectively, completing this course has only made that stronger. My main weakness was taking criticism from others but during this course I believe my weakness has grown into my strength. By listening to the criticism I have been able to adapt my way of thinking to my advantage, thus helping myself achieving my best potential. I believe for the future I will continue to improve my skills overall taking into consideration all my strengths and weaknesses as they can only get better.