Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2016/11/EFE
Based on a case example of a deeply unhappy person, this article examines the elusive topic of happiness, paying special attention to the Big Five theory of personality, the interface between health, resilience, and happiness, and the importance of social networks, the workplace, and other variables in the happiness conundrum.
I discuss the concept of the pursuit of happiness, introduce the notions of the hedonic treadmill and the “set point” of happiness, and explore the idea that we are able to “synthesize” happiness, using a variety of defensive mechanisms. I also look at the social and environmental factors that influence happiness, using data from the World Happiness Report, particularly the causes and effects of materialism and the significance of social comparisons. The article ends with suggestions about daily actions that can be performed to increase our level of happiness.