How Has Your Idea of Happiness Evolved?

Categories FeaturesPosted on

A liberal arts education is deeply rooted in the freedom to engage in meaningful, life-changing conversation and debate. This section is devoted to engagement in healthy conversation over hot topics in today’s society, such as the opioid crisis, politics, modified foods and euthanasia.

To submit a relevant social issue for discussion, visit

  • Dr. Rachael Herrington, Ph.D. <br/>Associate Professor of Psychology

    Dr. Rachael Herrington, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Psychology

    My general idea of happiness has remained relatively stable over time but more recently been informed by positive psychology and the “science” of happiness. Historically, as a clinical psychologist, my aim has been to decrease client suffering, primarily through reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or psychosis. Symptom reduction is (arguably) necessary but insufficient in producing happiness. Setton (2018) in his “pursuit of happiness project” outlines correlates of happiness, including the importance of quality relationships, cultivating kindness, exercise and physical well-being, flow, spiritual and religious practices, discovering and using your strengths, and having a positive mindset, with emphases on treasuring gratitude, mindfulness, and hope. When I was first introduced to the mindfulness idea and “living in the moment”, I thought it seemed shallow and short-sighted, possibly the direct opposite of delayed gratification, goal setting, and planning for the future. Over time, I’ve come to see that they are not mutually exclusive.
  • Yesy Perez<br/>Somos Program Director

    Yesy Perez
    Somos Program Director

    My idea of happiness has evolved by no longer relying on finding my happiness only with people. I have adjusted my attitude and expectations from those in my life whom I love; I have taken away their responsibility to make happy. Unhappiness often comes from our dependence of always having the right people in our lives. We feel one alone cannot find happiness unless there is someone to share it with. When the other person does not share the same interest, we become disappointed and unhappy. When I was a child, I remember feeling happy, when my friends would come around to play. If they did not show up to play the next day, I would be disappointed and unhappy. Now, I know if I had taken the opportunity to play by myself, I would have learned a whole new way to be happy on my own. As an adult, I remind myself happiness comes from within. Changing my attitude really helped me become more optimistic.
  • Tim Anzalone ’21<br/>Architecture

    Tim Anzalone ’21

    My dad once told me he didn’t live to be happy, all he wanted was to be content. It stuck with me. That talk made me realize happiness isn’t a permanent state of being, it’s something that comes and goes. My first few years of college have made me realize this even more. I’m stressed out all of the time, I feel like I run in circles all week and I’m always worried about my next tuition payment. There are weeks where I decide if I want to eat dinner or put gas in my car to get to work. My dad made me appreciate the little pockets of happiness when they come. I’m not living just to make myself happy. I am not a happy man. But, when little moments of joy stumble upon me, I take the time to realize the situation I’m in and to give thanks to all of the good things in my life.
  • Danny Collins MBA ’13 M.Arch ’13

    Danny Collins MBA ’13 M.Arch ’13

    My concept of happiness has grown up alongside me. Even through college happiness really could be summed up in one word – soccer. The more self-centered idea of achieving happiness starts to become much deeper, and more importantly starts to include others who play a role in your life. As you get older, the world puts you in your place. It is then I realized true happiness. I have had a fair share of tests to my general happiness, including currently watching my father fight stage 4 terminal cancer. These moments shaped my definition of happiness into simply being passionate about life. I try to be passionate about everything I do, including spending time with my family and friends, passionate about what I choose to do in my career and how to spend my free time. I desire to spend everyday living life to its fullest with the people who mean the most to me and disregarding the rest.