Perspective of Happiness in Different Cultures


Happiness is an essential element in everyone’s life. People live to find happiness throughout their lives and have different approaches towards achieving it. As no definite description of the term happiness exists, each individual have their own definition and understanding of what makes them happy. This varies from individuals, ethnicities and cultural societies to another. They each hold different perspectives in their pursuit for happiness.

Different cultures hold different perspectives on matters pertaining happiness and wellbeing. These variations arise in their cultural definitions of happiness, motivations that underlie the pursuit for happiness and in factors considered in predicting happiness Uchida, Norasakkunkit &Kitayama (2004). Though the approaches and definitions may be different, the motive behind the pursuit for happiness is mainly attaining a desirable and positive state of the mind, Lu & Gilmour (2004). This essay analyses the different perspectives of two different cultures, the Americans and the Asians pursuit for happiness; their differences and similarities.

Personal achievements are the major quantifying factors in American’s definition of happiness. A person realizes their purpose in life; they lay down their goals, and work towards achieving them. Thereby, happiness for the Americans is regarded as attributes pursued and attained only through personal efforts Szarota (). For them, only hard work guaranteestrue self-happiness. Self-confidence is also regarded as avery important factor in pursuance for happiness. Much effort is invested in a bid to convince oneself and the others that you are happy, it also essential in boosting self-confidence Szarota ().

To the Americans, personal happiness is regarded as an essential part of life. This is best demonstrated by the American constitution that provides that pursuit of happiness is a right to every citizen. Consequently, personal happiness is deemedan obligation and mandate to be accomplished by every American citizen. Happiness being a major concern for them, therefore, the society has created infrastructure that avail great opportunities and freedom in the pursuit for individual happiness Lu &Glimour (2004). This environment also creates agreat opportunity for realization and pursuance of personal goals in life that lead to personal achievement and success. Happiness is also regarded an important aspect and is believed to bring along other rewards such as possibility of going to heaven, it is closely associated with good health and satisfaction in lifeLu & Gilmour (2004).

Another important aspect of the American view of happiness is the personal right to free will and expression. Living an independent personhood is highly regarded in pursuant for happiness; it is highly emphasized even by the dominant churches,Lu & Gilmour (2004).

The Asian pursuit of happiness is a more social based approach rather than individualistic interests. The Asians conception of happiness start from inner feeling of inner satisfaction. These could be in form of positive feelings, being free from illness and the concept of being hopeful. The Asians culture and religion regards highly the factors more than focusing on individual welfare. They encourage sharing of individual success with the people around you Lu (2001).

Another important aspect in Asians pursuance of happiness is their strong insistence on virtues. The culture has holds high the ideas of spirituality and regards them very highly. They encourage honesty, truth and service to others. Lu (2001) says that to Chinese leaders for example, the welfare of their subjects and community came before the selfish urge to accumulate wealth and improvement of one’s social status. Trust in and obedience was also highly regarded in order to maintain harmony Lu (2001).

The most important and significant perspective of the Asians happiness was their high regard for inner peace and harmony. Many religions in the Asians highly encouraged the state of being at harmony with pones inner self. Achievement of this was consequently highly valued in a bid to achieve personal happiness. self-control, ability to remain calm in difficult situations, exercising humility and austerity were among the major practices towards achieving personal happiness Lu (2001).

The Asians cared greatly for the wellbeing of other members of their society. Material possession and overall personal well being had little to play in their pursuance for happiness. this clearly sets them aside from the Americans view and approach.

As described above, the traditional Americans and Asians hold very different views as pertains happiness for each. While to the Americans happiness is greatly individualised, the Asians tend to view happiness in a more social and collective way. The Americans pursuance for happiness is enshrined in personal efforts to achieve personal goals; the Asians have a different view on this however. They value less personal achievement when it comes to their happiness was of little importance.

Both communities agree that the state of being at peace and in harmony with your inner self bring about happiness. Personal achievement in fulfilling goals and one’s objectives were other factors that both agree on to bring happiness. The Asians however worked less towards achieving personal happiness compared to the Americans.

While the Asians are calm and collected in their description and approach towards happiness, their definition include feelings such as solemn and reflection, the Americans oh the other hand are upbeat and show no reflective emotions in their understanding of happiness.




Lu, L., (2001). Understanding happiness: A look into the chines folk psychology. Journal of Happiness studies, 2, 407-432.

Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2004).Culture and Conceptions of Happiness: Individual Oriented and Social oriented SWB.Journal of Happiness studies,5, 269-291.

Szarota, P. 2011. Smiling happiness in Cultural perspectives. Asian Journal of Cancer, 10(4), 277-282.

Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., &Kitayama, S. (2004). Cultural Constructions of Happiness: Theory and Empirical Evidence. Journal of Happiness studies, 5, 223- 239.



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