Monday, 25 August 2014

Tracking individual happiness?

It might be a sensible idea to analyse what makes some people review their lives as a happy life. Happiness and well-being are concepts which have distinct differences and still share significant similarities, therefore making it difficult to separate one from the other. Feelings of happiness are perhaps more private and temporary in nature and therefore hard to capture and conceptualise. Is there any added value of “tracking” how a person feels about their life? The Stiglitz Commission (2009) report argues that:  “A long philosophical tradition views individuals as the best judges of their own conditions. This approach is closely linked to the utilitarian tradition but has a broader appeal due to the strong presumption in many streams of ancient and modern culture that enabling people to be “happy” and “satisfied” with their life is a universal goal of human existence.”
It appears that the current trend in happiness research is in line with the Stiglitz Commission’s argument. In recent years there has been increased academic research in this field and many articles have been written to explore subjective well-being. For example, the interdisciplinary journal devoted to understanding of subjective well-being called ‘Journal of Happiness Studies’ has published many research articles exploring subjective well-being. ( Therefore, subjective well-being indicators are currently playing a big role in well-being research, but can well-being and happiness be seen as basic human rights? Do we have right to be happy? 

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