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An Examination Of The Causes Of Personal Happiness

828 words - 4 pages

Stating that independence and freedom are necessary for personal happiness would not be accurate. In some cases, independence and freedom could cause happiness in some people, however, they may not satisfy everyone. Happiness, independence and freedom have varying meanings and are not directly correlated in any given situation. The TED talk “The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory” and the texts “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” “The Duty of Civil Disobedience” elaborate on this idea. All three sources share a common underlying theme of happiness and what it means to the individual. Happiness is a temporary feeling of contentment which is not necessarily rooted in independence and freedom.
The discussion “The Riddle of Memory vs. Experience” by Daniel Kahneman provides a universal definition of the word happiness contrary to its usage in the statement. He says that there is happiness and then there is well-being (Kahneman). Acknowledging that there is a difference between the two. He continues on to say that happiness occurs in the experiencing self while well-being exists in the remembering self (Kahneman). This means that happiness is prejudiced, can be altered and can appear and disappear rather quickly. Lastly, Kahneman describes the context in which these feelings are to be used by saying that happiness is limited and subjective while well-being is your overall state or condition relative to a situation (Kahneman). Because happiness is limited, it would not be able to encompass the feelings one would have in response to being independent and free. Instead, a cause of personal happiness would be a simple thing which would last only in that moment of experience and freedom and independence would then attribute to personal well-being.
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. is a letter to the clergymen of Alabama regarding the protests and demonstrations being carried out by the African-American people. In this letter, Dr. King says that “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will” (King Jr. 267). He said this about the white modernist, who acknowledge the freedom of the Negro population but think that they should sit and let it come about itself. He continues on to say that “lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection” (King Jr. 267). The acceptance of freedom in itself, is not associated with personal happiness nor...

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