Saturday, 28 February 2015

What is Happiness?

Hi everyone!
On Thursday, I was in a public speaking competition with Jaz, and we had to write about a speech on whatever topic we wanted. The first one I drafted, was about descrimintion, and I hated it. I thought the speech was terrible and I refused to say it the next day at the competition.
The whole time I was writing it though, all I could think was: Happiness.
What is happiness? It means so many different things depending on who you are and I really wanted to explore that.
What is happiness to you?
I'm sorry if some of my information about religion is wrong, just let me know if it is.

What is Happiness?
When people think about happiness, it is often in the literal sense of the word: the state of being happy. Happy in the sense of feeling or showing contentment or pleasure, as defined by the Heinemann dictionary. But happiness has to be more than this, more than a rush of hormones, more than words on a piece of paper and more than a fleeting memory marking the absence of misery. Happiness is something that is subjective from person to person and no one really asks the important question: what is happiness?

The governments in many countries have developed a quantitative and theoretical study of happiness, called economics of happiness. The theory claims to be able to measure happiness so it can be compared across cultures and countries. They claim that first and foremost, the contributing factors to individual happiness is employment and social security. People who are employed and working are often happier as they are generating an income for themselves and their families, allowing them to live their lives as best they can. Working gives people a sense of purpose in their life, something that drives them forward each and every day. Having freedom and control over one’s life gives people the power to live their life how they want to live it. They can marry who they want, follow a religion they believe in, follow the path they think is best. Having this freedom and control contributes towards a person’s happiness and general wellbeing. Religious diversity and cultural acceptance also play a role in happiness, as does people’s leisure time and how they spend it. However, this is all happiness that is standardised by the government – so really, what is happiness?

An ancient philosopher, Aristotle in 350 BC, decreed that happiness and a happy life require the fulfilment of conditions, both of physical and mental wellbeing. This included a moral character with courage, generosity, friendship and justice. But, according to Aristotle, happiness was not a state of mind. Happiness was, according to him, a life-long goal that could only be achieved at the end of one’s life – it was the ultimate goal of human existence. Others have argued that how humans behave, both collectively and individually will affect the resulting happiness of an individual. In short, philosophers dictate that happiness is flourishing, living a good life, and acting a certain way, rather than an emotion you can feel.

Religion also, has different definitions and ideas about happiness and what it means. In Catholicism, happiness is attained at the end of human existence in the next life. The “blessed happiness” is a complete well-being that correlates with the contemplation of God, as the supreme delight. In Judaism, the happiness itself is the service to god, and the joy a person takes in performing a mitzvah and in loving God. It is stated in a teaching that happiness is grounded in the appreciation of opportunities within life itself, with the knowledge that each moment can be infused with meaning and be used become closer God. There is no happiness in material things, only spiritual matters. Alternatively, Buddhism defines happiness in two different ways:

  1.  Happiness is experiencing something in a satisfying manner, that is thought to be of benefit to yourself, and
  2. Happiness is a feeling that someone should wish to feel again
Religion all has different ideas on what happiness is, but the question remains: what is happiness?
In science, relatively little is known about happiness and its origins. Neuroscientist Richard J Davidson observed that the word happiness “is a kind of placeholder for a constellation of positive emotional states. Of all the emotions, happiness is the one scientists least understand.” What is understood however, is that the cortex of the brain receives a sensory stimulation that processes it as a “reward” of sorts. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter and chemical substance is released by neurons and is associated with positive emotions, such as happiness. Pleasurable feelings have also been accredited to the release of endorphins throughout the brain.

But what is happiness? Ordinary people don’t think about happiness in terms of chemicals and endorphins, or great philosophical theories. They feel. People touch, they explore, and they live. When asked what happiness brings to mind, people think of other people: their families sitting around the dinner table, girlfriends eyes glittering in the sun. They think of their best friend singing at the top of their lungs. People associate happiness with the smell of rain as it hits concrete on a hot day, and the taste of a cupcakes fresh out of the oven. Freedom and success, they believe, brings them happiness. People laughing, smiling, dancing, the joyfulness between a pair hugging. Happiness isn’t just an emotion, it’s a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch.

But what is happiness? Happiness is a subjective word or idea that means many different things to many different people. Philosophers dictate it to be the ultimate life goal, something you can be through how you behave. Religion believes happiness to be the servitude to a God and all that constitutes. In science, happiness is a release of dopamine and endorphins. But, to everyday people, it’s life. Happiness cannot be defined: happiness is what you think makes you happy.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Happy Hunger Games!

Hi everyone!
Around the same time as the One Direction, I was on leadership camp! This was something I had been looking forward to since last year. They are always so much fun and this camp would be no exception. The first day, I was only there for the morning's get to know you actitivies, before Alice's Mum whisked us away to One Direction.
But we were back the next morning bright and early to eat breakfast with the rest.
That day, we built our own rafts, and lets just say it did not go very well. You think it's stable on land and then you get in the water and everything goes downhill!

This was my raft building team.

After lunch, we had a "challenge course." In that, we had to jump over poles, swing on rope, climb a plank, roll through lines of tyres, crawl under rope (through dirt!), across a flying fox, do some burpees, and then crawl through a mud puddle. Which was not fun, the bottom was littered with sharp little rocks. It was fun, my team won. But incredibly painful and mentally challenging. I am quite proud to say I didn't get my hair muddy at all! (I wanted it nice for that night)

Later that night was the thing we had all been waiting for: the Talent Quest.
Myself and fellow school captains were the judges and hosts of the talent night. So, of course, we had to add our own fun into it. After a lot of planning, rehearsing, and costume sourcing, we were ready.
Behold: The Second Annual Talent Quest, Hunger Games themed of course!
Ceasar Flickerman (we did turn his hair blue!)
These two were both past tributes who were interviewed by Ceasar, on how to win the Annual Talent Night and what leadership is.
I was Effie Trinket!
Of course, we did it properly. We had "reaping bowls" to draw out the names, and it seemed like everyone had a fantastic night.
The winners!

The last day conisted of the serious planning for the year ahead - the boring stuff you probably don't want to hear about.

All 62 of us!
Leadership camp was so much fun, and I wish I could go again!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

My Boys

Hi everyone!
On the 11th of February, 2015: I was there.
I saw One Direction live!!! I'm still having trouble believing it actually happened and holy moly it was incredible. I was up in the stands and I thought we would not be able to see anything. But, it was the opposite. We had a great view of the whole stage!
Alice and I had just been picked up from camp and we were on our way to Brisbane!

We had now stopped at Alice's Aunty's house and had gotten changed into nice clothes and put our hair up nicely. On the train to the stadium we go!

Selfie at the train station
Our first glimpse of Suncorp Stadium!
About to go in!!

And we were in the stadium at last
Met up with one of my friends (Alice is sitting way down the front)

I do not understand! They put up a line of tents and tarps just so we couldn't see the boys walk in. We still saw them a bit further along anyway, Harry and Niall stopped and waved. The rest of the stadium looked at our section a bit strangely when we started screaming for no apparent reason.

After the opening acts, Samantha Jade and McBusted, they were on! Here's Zayn looking pretty darn good.

The stadium during Little Things
An amazing shot Alice got, with absolutely no zoom.

On the way home :(

As you can probably tell, it was so much fun and I will be waiting impatiently until they finally come back to Australia. I miss my boys already!