This is the second of the two volumes, Human Happiness; Its Nature & Its Attainment.
In the first Volume, we explored the nature of happiness. There we examined the importance of happiness, it’s definition, and the critical role it plays in our lives. We provided a brief history of the scientific research in this new and exciting field of psychological study. You, the reader, had a opportunity to take an informal test of your own happiness assets. We then went on to detail what it’s like to feel really happy. We looked closely at the happiest people and the many fine things they have in their lives. We studied the numerous, highly desirable characteristics of “the happy personality.” And we examined the function of happiness in an understanding of basic psychology.
Now it is time to move to our Volume on the attainment of happiness…
In 1977, I was privileged to have a series of my earliest research papers published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Counseling Psychology ( ). It described the first scientific experiments to see if it might be possible to help average individuals achieve higher levels of happiness in their lives. The article was entitled “A Program to Increase Happiness,” and read, in part, as follows:
Personal happiness, as defined in psychological literature, is much broader in scope than a temporary state. It is an overriding emotional sense of well-being and serves as global index of life satisfaction. Research into the nature of happiness has developed a substantial body of knowledge concerning the attributes, personality characteristics, and objective situations of those individuals who have achieved high levels of happiness, and new reports are continuously being published that amplify and solidify the findings in this area.
There is, however, one very important area of happiness research that has not yet received attention–attempts to increase personal happiness. No experimental work has been conducted to see if it is possible to boost individuals’ overall, long-term sense of felt happiness and well-being. The present article reports a series of three experiments that were designed to develop a program that might increase the happiness level of normal college students. The significance of such study is manifest: the achievement of happiness is one of the most important goals of humankind, and the ability for psychology to provide counselors, clinicians, mental health professionals , and the general public with information and self-study programs with life would be most desirable and beneficial.
The happiness program developed and reported herein is natural outgrowth of past research into the nature of happy people, and the investigator is indebted to the efforts of those researchers upon whose collective efforts this research was based. Previous research has clearly delineated the characteristics of those individuals who have already achieved high levels of happiness, so the question explored in the present series of studies was to see if average community college students, especially unhappy ones, could (a) develop such characteristics and (b) thereby enhance their own happiness. It was hypothesized that the students would become happier, if they could modify their behaviors and attitudes to approximate more closely the characteristics of happier people…
The three experiments reported in that scientific journal showed preliminary success.
For the first time, research experimentation had shown the remarkable possibility that human happiness could be increased. Soon after that, other researchers, using some of our strategies, confirmed the potential of increasing happiness ( ). Our own research continued, and in 1983 three new experimental confirmations of our happiness program were presented in the professional literature ( ) and began to to receive notoriety in the popular mass media (references 347 through 376).
The program our research developed has come to be known as “The Fourteen Fundamentals Program to Increase Personal Happiness.” Its effectiveness continues to receive research confirmation ( ) and it has come to be widely recognized in professional textbooks and in the literature as the only scientifically accepted attempt to enhance personal happiness offered to date ( ).
In this second volume of Human Happiness, we will explore the attainment of personal happiness, presenting to you, step-by-step, each of the elements of “The Fourteen Fundamentals Program” that has been developed in our research. It is an extensive program of study, covering virtually all of the characteristics of happy people which appear to be within the attainable reach of most everyone.
It is not absolutely necessary that you have read the first Volume in this dyad to appreciate this second one. This Volume has been written to stand, pretty much, on its own. Certainly, your appreciation of this second Volume will be greatly enhanced by the materials presented in Volume I (since that volume provides the foundation upon which this second volume rests) but familiarity with Volume I is not required to gain the practical understanding of your happiness contained in this one.
Readers should also bear in mind, that this second volume is not as heavily referenced as the first. In the present volume, except in a general way, the findings of psychological research studies are not referenced if they were previously cited in Volume I. Readers jumping directly to this volume, must trust that the statements regarding research on happiness have substantial foundation. As in the first volume, the Harvard method for references is used (numbers in parentheses refer to studies listed in the numbered bibliography at the end of this book).