Objectives of the study:
To discern the nature of happiness by analyzing Indian scholarly literature
To explore the construal of happiness among the students and teachers.
To examine the experiences and consequences of happiness in the sample of school students and teachers
How is happiness conceptualized in the Indian tradition?Where does this view stand in the context of mainstream scholarship in psychological conceptualization of happiness? In what way they complement each other? Are there different ways of understanding/ experiencing happiness?
What do school students understand by the construct of happiness? When and how do they experience happy and unhappy events? How happy are school students and teachers?
What are the factors that promote happiness or a happy life as perceived by the students and teachers? How does happiness affect day-to-day life of students and teachers?
Sample of the study:
885 school students from three localities namely Delhi, Gorakhpur urban and Gorakhpur rural.
140 teachers from Delhi and Gorakhpur urban.
Tools: A 26-item self-report measuring five dimensions of happiness, namely, (1) experience of happiness, (2) life satisfaction, (3) personal control, (4) emotional reactions, and (5) personal and social Concerns.
Method: The present study adopted a two-prolonged strategy to achieve the above objectives. In the first instance, an attempt was made to analyze the concept of happiness as reflected in ancient Indian scholarly tradition. It was followed by an empirical study of happiness among school students and teachers.Statistical Techniques: Percentage analysis, Chi-square
Findings of the study
This study attempted to discern the Indian notion of happiness by analyzing Sanskrit suktis. The ancient Indian scholarly texts, which were written in Sanskrit language, contain knowledge in the form of Suktis or Subhasitas (good words). After analyzing three Sanskrit dictionaries, 529 suktis related to happiness were collected and analyzed. Results revealed that the suktis defined happiness in terms of personal characteristics of the people (such as contentment, control over desires, surrender, non attachment, equanimity in opposites, freedom, hard work, perseverance, good health, and wisdom). Some of the social characteristics such as having wise friends, maintaining harmonious family relationship, charity and service to the needy, sacrifice, performing religious duties, and having good relationships at the work place also contribute to attaining happiness. Attainment of knowledge is another source of happiness. Viewed as one of the highest mental state, called anand or bliss, happiness comes by surrendering to the Almighty. The concept of sorrow or pain is interwoven in the Indian view of well-being. Therefore, a happy person remains non-attached to the outcomes of his/her actions, maintains equanimity in opposite circumstances, understands the cyclic nature of happiness and unhappiness. Happy people experience abundance of all basic requirements like food, money, friends, prestige etc. They gain respect for their self from both professional and social quarters. They are bestowed with the company of the wise, loved by close ones, remain free from debts and have certainty of livelihood. Like happiness, unhappiness is also an essential part of human life and helps in his/ her growth. The analysis shows the relational nature of happiness in the Indian context.
The analysis revealed that happiness is derived from diverse range of activities/ experiences and the duration of these experiences vary considerably. Also, the source of happiness could be extrinsic or
intrinsic. The presence of a physical object is not essential for the experience of happiness. A person's internal conditions could bring extreme happiness to him/ her. Further, the value of an extrinsic object to bring happiness varies according to the context (desh), the time (kaal), and the person (patra). Also, a truly happy person remains unchanged in joy or sorrow.
Construal of Happiness among School Students and Teachers
To understand the notion and consequences of happiness among school students and teachers, a 26-item self-report measure was administered on 885 school students and 140 teachers. The student sample was drawn from three localities, namely Delhi, Gorakhpur urban and Gorakhpur rural. The teachers came from Dellhi and Gorakhpur urban only. The 26-items were related to the five dimensions of happiness, namely, (1) experience of happiness, (2) life satisfaction, (3) personal control, (4) emotional reactions, and (5) personal and social Concerns. Additionally, 135 students were interviewed to have an-depth understanding of their conceptualization of happiness.
Analysis did not reveal much difference in the conceptualization of happiness of the participants from three localities. Both teachers and students, in large numbers, reported that they were happy,
experience happiness regularly, laugh regularly, have minimum health problems and motivate others to be happy and do good work. They are satisfied with the outcomes in life and consider life to be meaningful. The sources of their happiness lies in accomplishment of tasks (such as doing studies/ teaching, success in examination, goal attainment, doing things of their choice, and working honestly) and social relationships (such as being in the company of friends and family, serving parents/ elders/ needy), happiness of the family, etc.). It was reported by the students that they feel good and excited when they are happy. However, both students and teachers felt that governing the happiness are not in their control.
This research supports the argument that the nature of people's construal of social world determines their level of happiness and well being. In the Western societies, characterized by individualism and
decontextualized nature of the self, the source of happiness and well- being lies in the external world. In contrast, the Indian context, characterized by collectivism with stress on contextualized world view, considers happiness and well-being as emanating from the internal conditions of the individual. People derive happiness by relating to the others and successfully performing one's duties. The study argues for developing a deeper contextual understanding about the nature of happiness and well being in diverse contexts. The results also show congruence in the ancient and contemporary Indian thought about the nature and effects of happiness.
1. In the Indian context, education is considered key to success as it empowers humans by realizing human potentials and bringing in excellence in action. It is through education and learning- sadhana of vidya- that one may attain liberation and realize its true self. As narrated in one of the famous Sanskrit verses, education imparts intellectual culture; intellectual culture secures capacity and stability; capacity and stability enable to secure wealth; wealth so secured enables to perform dharma, which in turn secures happiness. Happy people typically feel empowered and remain in control of situations. Those who feel empowered rather than helpless would typically do better in school, cope with stress and live more happily. When people are deprived of control over one's life, they suffer lower morale and worse health. Therefore, the ultimate pursuit of education should be to make people happy.
2. The results of the empirical study showed that students and teachers, though happy, do not perceive to have control over situations that make them happy. In an essay, Wolfensohn (2004) argued that more than the money, it is the power to have a say in things that govern us makes people more happy. The education system in India has, in recent years, witnessed many changes. The Panchayati raj system has given the governance of the schools to the local bodies where teachers have a say in its governance. However, the study was conducted in government and government-funded senior secondary schools where this system is probably yet to find a place. There is a need to give teachers and students an important place in decision making in such schools.
3, The experience of happiness is not a one-shot affair, nor do all individuals feel happy by a particular object or event. The schools need to organize a series of happiness producing events throughout the year. Rather, it should be made a part of school routine. The activities should be organized in a manner that the students feel themselves important and need to be related to their
It is important to develop an understanding about the relative nature of happiness and unhappiness among students. The students need to understand that the unhappiness or sorrow is not always undesirable; rather, it provides an opportunity to realize that happiness and unhappiness are two sides of the same coin. Pain or suffering teaches one to adjust in adverse circumstances and also
helps in initiating the process of self-discovery. The students should be trained to treat happiness and unhappiness equally.
Keyword(s): Subjective Well Being, Happiness , Satisfaction