Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can Happiness Be Taught?

Yesterday, I stumbled across this website, called The Pursuit of Happiness. I read through their site and it looks like they're a group dedicated to teaching happiness as a fundamental part of education. They say that one of the basic rights in The Declaration of Independence is "the pursuit of happiness." So why aren't we taught to pursue this?

They also quote some startling statistics, that 20% of us will experience depression at some point, and that 9% of children will as well. So I wondered, is happiness really a skill, something that we could've or should've been taught in school like reading, math, or science?

I think that optimism can definitely be learned. I've felt myself become more optimistic in the past few weeks, even with my very unscientific methods of positive thinking. And if optimism can be learned, then why not happiness. Aren't the two interconnected?

I thought about this as I sat through older child's first school conference yesterday, where I got to read over the standards for the first half of the year and hear about his reading readiness test scores. What if, included in this, there was a measure for happiness or the ways to achieve it? Later on in life, will it be just as important for older child to have the skills to think positively as it is for him to have the skills to read, write, and do math? I think that it is.

What do you think?


  1. I think people do skip over the idea that we have the right to pursue happiness. Maybe it should be taught right along side the values that build one's character. Happiness is surely something you can pursue. I know when things happen I have to make a choice to either be happy or let life defeat me. I hope that I am teaching the ability to make the choice to be happy to my child.

  2. I love that idea -- that it should be taught along side the values that build character. I wonder why we, as a society, don't make a bigger deal about happiness?

  3. I think the only person that can really teach us happiness is ourselves. You can learn how to be happy or what to be happy about from others, but you are the only one that can let yourself be happy.