Research Task #1

Like most things in my life, I made this project much more complicated than it needs to be. Meaning—after months of grueling research and writing, I threw it all away and started again from scratch. I decided to research something much more profound than my former subject and in my opinion much more interesting: how to be happy.

In Sri Lanka, I started my project by asking random people I encountered during travels one simple question: “What makes you happy?” Every time I asked, the respondent answered that whatever they were doing for a living at the moment made them happy. This interested me—I’m used to work being the reason people are unhappy.

Subsequently upon my return to America, I found a documentary called Happy that employed a similar research method as mine, except they used people from all over the world as a sample. Whether the interviewee was a rickshaw driver in India, an alligator hunter from Louisiana, or whatever, all of the interviewees were happy in large part because they were doing what made them happy.

No concept could be so simple and complicated at the same time. As a liberal arts student who is about to graduate and join the real world, I grappled with this idea of “doing what makes you happy” since I picked my major. So while objectivity is important for research, I think that my personal struggle is going to enhance the process, and I think that my audience will be able to relate easily to the research.

Right now, I want to first conceptualize happiness and familiarize myself with its causes, its chemistry, its dimensions, etc. I want to focus my project on something the film Happy referred to as “flow,” a feeling of happiness and contentedness that results from complete pleasure and satisfaction in your work. I hope to present my research as a tool for others to navigate how to achieve flow and access overall happiness.

I have lofty goals for my project and a very long road ahead of me before I reach the finish line. I need to start reading up on things immediately and crank out a new proposal. Right now however, I’m very glad to have a new research idea that excites me. Here’s hoping that I achieve some flow during my process that will speed things along.

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