Literature Summary on the Article Happy Hour Featured in the Psychology Today Magazine

Literature Summary - Psychology Today Article "Happy Hour"

Psychology Today is a magazine focused on dealing with mental health topics related to emotional wellbeing, relationship/family issues, and other more serious psychological conditions. The writers of this adult magazine have extensive expertise in the field of psychology, both clinically and academically. Many articles in Psychology Today are written by, and rely upon information provided by, doctors, Ph.D.'s, and other trained professionals in the field. This magazine seems genuinely dedicated to promoting sound, reliable, scientific information of a psychological nature.

Since psychology is the science of the human mind and behavior, this magazine clearly fits into the category of life sciences. The selected article, “Happy Hour,” in the February 2005 edition of Psychology Today, is about the human quest for finding true happiness. Since happiness is a fundamental human emotion, this article’s topic is also directly related to life sciences.

Carlin Flora, a staff writer for Psychology Today, discusses in this article how the nature of happiness can be both elusive and unpredictable. She claims that human beings generally lack the ability to accurately predict what will make them happy. Daniel Gibson, a Harvard psychology researcher cited in this article, claims that humans tend to overestimate the impact of positive events. For instance, there are many things we may expect will lead to great happiness, such as losing weight, getting a raise, or starting a new relationship. Oftentimes, however, these predictions are inaccurate. Certain things or events may bring short-term pleasure, but they may not actually bring long-lasting joy.

Linda Carstensen, a Stanford psychology professor, has done research to find how age influences happiness. In general, she found that young people pay more attention to negative stimuli than do older people. Personality studies showed that older people tend to care less about how other people view them. Teachers and parents can be aware of this finding and realize that perhaps children may not be as happy as they may be perceived.

Flora’s article suggests several ways to actively influence one’s own happiness. For instance, it is important to live in the present, instead of focusing too much attention on one’s past or future. Sleep is extremely crucial, because feeling happy is often directly correlated with the amount of rest a person has. In our “work-a-day” world, too much stress and time pressures can also lead to unhappiness and anxiety. Being aware that these factors may exist and being able to learn appropriate coping skills can help a person strive to attain a healthier, happier life.

This article was of particular interest to me, both personally and professionally. Like most people, I long for true happiness in my life. This article pointed out many specific efforts I can make to achieve more happiness in my life, such as getting enough rest, avoiding stress, and “living in the present.” These strategies will undoubtedly contribute to my strengths and abilities as a person, and specifically, as a teacher. A happy teacher is more valuable and effective to her students than one who is “stressed out” and cranky. In addition, it would be beneficial to teach certain techniques I read about in this article to my students. After all, happy students and happy teachers make for exciting, learning-friendly classroom environments.


Flora, C. (2005). Happy Hour. Psychology Today, 38(1), 40-50.