Happiness vs Materialism

This first month of class and readings has been focused on what it means to be mentally healthy and how we can measure and increase mental health and happiness. In the readings mental health is looked at under a variety of lenses. Authors Dick, Adkins, and Kou looked at how genetics affects adolescent behavior. Adolescent behavior is difficult to study due to different environmental factors but is critical to understand. It can give insight into how youth will grow to perceive their world and what lens they will look through. Keyes article as well as positive psychology by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi share the theme of mental satisfaction. Mentally flourishing individuals feel better themselves while also have greater benefits to society. Everyone would like to feel better all the time but how do we get to that point? What can we do as individuals to be happier?

Unfortunately there is a little luck involved to being happy, genetics do play a part in happy one can be. Whether it be severe depression that is causing lack of dopamine and making it near impossible to get out of bed; or an inherited gene like LOC100288337 that is associated with alcohol problems. These factors people do not get a choice in. For many Americans with severe depression they do not seek treatment needed for a variety of factors. It could be not being able to get out of bed or others saying to get over it you’ll be fine. As a society we should focus on giving people good quality years of mental health rather than quick fixes like medication.


I thought it was interesting that in Differences in Character Among College Students that most had the weakness of self regulation and love of learning. The self regulation makes sense because it is new environment with little parental oversight. This is the time period where we have to figure it out on our own to make life work. As for the love of learning in my sociology studies I have found it can be traced back to standardized testing becoming the new educational norm to follow. Not only does it makes students memorize boring fact it also takes away the passion a teacher can provide to their class about a topic. I would imagine after a few years of reading off a paper that work becomes dull and uninteresting.


I found the Positive Psychology reading to be very helpful in relating this class to myself. It gave me a starting point when “needs” were brought up. According to the article humans need competence, belongingness, and autonomy. If you focus on making sure these needs are met and keep an optimistic outlook it can really go a long way in how you feel about yourself and others. The optimism part has been the hardest for me I have been a pessimistic person for a long time now because my rationale was that it was less likely to be disappointed. I did find that I was less disappointed by things and others actions but was not happy. I will continue to work at this whole optimism thing until it finally sticks.


On a side note a quote from the depression reading that I thought was interesting was, “emphasis on having rather than being in society was a symptom of a sick society.”

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