In today’s society there is a strong focus on ‘being happy’. We as individuals strive for a happy life and also society expects us to be happy: enjoy all the things you do, think positive and be successful. Be Happy! is the motto. According to the United Nations World Happiness Report happiness is widespread and valued in the Netherlands, but what do ‘happiness’, ‘being happy’ and ‘living a happy life’ actually mean to us? What is the influence of our Western culture on how we perceive happiness and how is it different from the happiness of people living in other countries and cultures? This Veritas Forum explores our desire for happiness. With experts and you, the audience, we discuss insights from science, philosophy and religion as well as personal views and experiences.
A society that expects people to be happy has a great impact on how people behave. Think of the way you present yourself in a social situation, both offline and online. There seems to be a great difference in how we present ourselves on social media and in social settings like parties, versus how we really feel and behave in a familiar environment. In the first case, smiling, having fun and showing your success are the standard. This sometimes requires us to act as if we are happy. It raises the following questions: why do we sometimes wear a happiness mask? Do people still have the possibility to express unhappiness? Are successful people also happy people? How do you truly become happy?
Like culture, our conviction is another aspect that influences the way we think of and deal with happiness. If you are a Christian, you might think differently about happiness compared to for example a Hindu or atheist. Feel free to join the discussion from the perspective of your cultural-religious background.
Prof.dr. Ruut Veenhoven is emeritus professor of ‘social conditions for human happiness’ at Erasmus University Rotterdam, author, director of the World Database of Happiness and founding editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies. He presents the results of different studies on happiness and gives his view on this topic from a scientific and personal perspective.
Drs. Rikko Voorberg is a Dutch theologian, educated at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen, an artist/activist, writer and columnist. He is the founder and parson of the PopUpKerk, a pop-up church in Amsterdam. Rikko Voorberg explains what happiness and being happy means for human beings from his theological and personal perspective.
Moderator: dr. Hans van Dijk
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