Constructing Happiness: Role of Meaning Making, Constructive Living and Client System

Constructing Happiness: Role of Meaning Making, Constructive Living and Client System

Richi Simon (The Bhopal School of Social Sciences, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5918-4.ch008
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Every living being longs for happiness, a life at peace with little of negative emotions and disturbances. This chapter tries to establish constructive living, meaning making and client systems as constructs of happiness. Everybody visualizes the world differently. Thoughts, experiences, feelings and actions define and design lives. They describe the version one holds for the world around them. In times of distress, it is natural that one finds it hard to understand truth. The meaning making process then differs from the way one derives meaning in normal life. Intrapersonal, interpersonal and environmental factors all determine the client's system. An understanding of the client system and using constructive living, a method involving Morita and Naikan,the two most notable psychotherapies of Japan, can help in constructing happiness. This chapter will explore the role of meaning making, constructive living and client systems in being happy. The study will also put forward suggestions for attaining a happy and contented life.
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Aristotle believed that more than anything else men and women seek happiness. Every other thing – big or small is sought not only for its own sake but because we expect it to make us happy. The finest experiences occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a deliberate fashion to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. One can say that when we meet our unmet desires we feel happy. The gap between desires and reality determines whether you are sad or happy, if this gap grows you feel sad, if it gets bigger you feel depressed and if it gets minimized you feel truly happy. Controlled consciousness can alter our experiences. Every experience – be it joy or pain, interest or boredom, everything is stored in our brain as information. If we evolve to control this information, we can be the sailor of our lives. To experience happiness in contemporary life, individuals must become independent of their social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of the sanctions attached. One needs to build up the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of the external environment. This autonomy however easy or hard it may seem, lies solely in one’s own hands. As Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say, “We are always getting to live, but never living.” (Emerson, n.d.) Nobody or nothing will come to you to make you happy; the power to make it happen, the power to make you happy is with nobody but you. Dr. Steve Maraboli rightly says Happiness is a state of mind, a choice, a way of living; it is not something to be achieved, it is something to be experienced.” (Maraboli, n.d.) The notion of happiness as to be pursued, sought after, destined is so pervasive, even the famous phrase pursuit of happiness makes us think that happiness is to be chased after, it is to be discovered, but happiness is something that can be constructed with conscious efforts and with our power to tailor it for ourselves. After reading this chapter you will be able to –

  • 1.

    Understand true happiness.

  • 2.

    Establish the various determinants of happiness.

  • 3.

    Get acquainted with various components of client system helpful in constructing happiness.

  • 4.

    Understand constructive living.

  • 5.

    Explore how to be happy and contented.


Understanding Happiness

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place” is one of the most apt sayings by Lao Tzu. (n.d.) Happiness in its true sense is described as a sense of “peace” or “contentedness”. Happiness is a state of mind. It may be intentional or strategic. Sustained happiness is not about being in comfort zone and doing things you like but involves adventuring beyond one’s comfort zone.

Forgas (2011) in his study found that dispositional happy people are those who have a general leaning toward the positive, i.e., they are less skeptical than others. Oishi et al. (2013) in their study found that happiest people—those who scored a 9 or 10 out of 10 on measures of life satisfaction—were inclined to perform less well than moderately happy people in accomplishments such as grades, class attendance, or work salaries. They were less conscientious about their performance. To them, sacrificing some degree of achievement appeared to be a small price to pay for not having to sweat the small stuff. In other words, too much focus on minute details can be exhausting and paralyzing. The happiest people accept that striving for perfection and a perfectly smooth interaction with everyone at all times is a loser's bet.

The aftermath of 9/11 shows that the most flexible people living in New York City during the attacks were those who were angry at times but could also conceal their emotions when necessary. Such people bounced back more quickly and enjoyed greater psychological and physical health than their less adaptable counterparts (Bonanno, 2010).

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