Anda di halaman 1dari 8

Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University

ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PERCEPTIONS AND OPINION OF HAPPINESS AMONG


UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN A MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITY

Redhwan Ahmed Al-Naggar*, Karim Alwan. Al-Jashamy**,


Low Wah Yun***, Zaleha Mohd Isa****, Mutee Izidin Alsaror*****
and Abdul-Gafoor Ahmed Al-Naggar******
*
International Medical School, Management and Science University,
40100 Malaysia; **SEGi Medical School Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; ***Health
and Research Development Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya,
Malaysia; ****Department of Community Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan
Malaysia Medical Centre, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; *****Faculty
of Education, National University of Malaysia, Malaysia and
******
Faculty of Medicine, Taiz University, Yemen

Abstract

Objective: This study was aimed to explore the perceptions and opinions of
happiness among university students. Methods: This qualitative study was
conducted in January for the academic year 2010 among 33 Medical Science
Students from Management and Science University (MSU), Shah Alam,
Malaysia. The facilitator wrote down the conversation during the discussion.
The data obtained was classified into various categories. Due to the small
sample size, the data was analyzed manually. Results: All participants
mentioned that the main source of happiness is money. Good relationship with
friends and family is the second source of happiness among university
students. Some of the students mentioned that the stability of life and good
health are causes of happiness. Few participants mentioned that success in life
is one of the causes of the happiness. ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 11 (2):
July-Dec 2010: XX XX.

Keywords: Happiness, Perceptions, University students

Introduction on many things, including income, labor


market status, job characteristics, health,
In today’s life, most people, if not all leisure, family, social relationships, security,
people, are in search of happiness [1]. liberty, moral values and many others [2].
Happiness was rated as the most important Happiness is affected by external factors
component of quality of Life, more such as leisure activities, social life, work
important than money, sex and self-esteem satisfaction and marriage and internal
among its participants. Happiness depends factors such as goals, personality and coping
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

styles. Different people look for happiness happiness among university students.
in different places, depending on the society
in which they live. Some look for happiness Methods
in external factors such as material goods.
Others look for happiness in internal factor This qualitative study was conducted in
such as self actualization. People may look January of the academic year 2010 among
for happiness in different places, but one 33 Medical Science students from the
thing that is common among people is their Management and Science University
goal of finding happiness. Argyle et al [3] (MSU), Shah Alam, Malaysia. Universal
stated that when people are asked to define sampling was used to conduct this study.
happiness, they may report that they are Consent was obtained from all participants
experiencing a positive emotional state such before starting the focus group discussion.
as joy, or satisfied with life as a whole or The students were divided into five focus
part of it. Happiness is the degree, to which groups; two groups consisted of eight
an individual judges the overall quality of students, one group consisted of seven
his own life as a whole favorably, and it is students, one group consisted of six students
generally considered to be an ultimate goal and one group consisted of four students.
in life; virtually everybody wants to be The main themes discussed were: What is
happy. Happiness? What are the causes of the
Happiness? What are the ways prevent you
Happiness affects behavior in many positive from Happiness? How do you handle the
ways. Happiness can enhance people’s sadness? If I could live my life all over
health and longevity, work performance, again, I would change almost. The main
sociability, altruism, creative thinking and researcher was the moderator for the group
problem solving, and acts in favor of discussion. The moderator asked probing
people’s mental health by acting as a buffer questions and directed the group discussion
for stress [1]. People can increase their in which all students participated were given
happiness in many ways, some of which equal time for discussion. The moderator
include eating, engaging in social activities wrote down the conversation during the
and sexual intercourse, exercising and focus group discussion. The data obtained
playing sports, alcohol and other mood were classified into various categories. Due
enhancing drugs, putting their skills to use, to the small sample size, the data was
feeling successful and socially approved, analyzed manually.
listening to music, doing art work, practicing
religion, resting and relaxing [1&3]. Wilson Results
[4] described the demographic
characteristics that correlated with Participants in this study were 33 students,
happiness. Wilson describes a happy person the minimum age was 20 years old and the
as one who is young, healthy, well-educated, maximum age was 28 years old. Majority of
well-paid, extroverted, optimistic, worry- the 23 participants (70%) were 22 years of
free, religious, married with high self- age or younger. The majority of the
esteem, high job morale, modest aspirations, participants were female 24 (73%). The
of either sex of a wide rate of intelligence. majority of participants were Malays and
The objective of this study was aimed to Muslim (70%). The majority of the
explore the perceptions and opinions toward participants were from urban areas 25 (76%)
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

[Table 1].

Table: 1 Socio-demographic characteristic of the participants (n = 33)

Variable Number (%)


Age (years) 23 (70)
≤22 10 (30)
>22
Sex
Male 9 (27)
Female 24(73)
Race
Malay 23 (70)
Indian 2 (6)
Others 8 (24)
Religion
Islam 23 (70)
Christian 5 (15)
Others 5 (15)
Resident
Urban 25 (76)
Rural 8 (24)

The definition of happiness Sources of Happiness

Group 1: Happiness is the situation where All participants mentioned that the main
someone is satisfied enough and enjoying source of happiness is money.
life. “Having money is one of the causes of the
Group 2: Happiness is coping with the entire happiness. If we don’t have enough money
problems you face in life. we’ll got problems.” (Female, Malay, 22
Group 3: Happiness is any pleasant joyful years old).
moments and self- satisfaction with families Good relationships with friends and family
and friends. are the second cause of happiness among
Group 4: Happiness is a feeling of greatness, university students.
satisfaction, pleasure when our needs are “The cause of happiness is when we are sad,
fully met. there is someone in our family member
Group 5: Happiness is a state in which there beside us to give support.” (Female, Malay,
is emotional health, social and economic 22 years old).
well-being. “The cause of happiness is when we can be
with the loved ones such as family or
friends.” (Female, Malay, 22 years old)
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

Some of the students mentioned that the I feel unhappy when sometimes I feel lonely
stability of life is one of the causes of (Female, Malay, 24 years old)
happiness. No social life makes me unhappy (Female,
“Having a moderate but stable life is one of Malay, 24 years old)
the causes of the happiness.” (Female, When everybody hates me, that time I will
Indian, 20 years old) be not happy (Female, Malay, 22)
“Stability in all aspects of life is one of the
causes of the happiness.” (Female, Malay, How do you handle the sadness?
24 years old)
Some of the students mentioned that one of The majority of the participants (13)
the causes of happiness is a good health. mentioned that talk and share with someone
“Good health is the main cause of else is one of the ways to handle sadness.
happiness.” (Female, Malay, 23 years old) “Sharing problems with trusted people either
Few participants mentioned that success in family or friends” (Female, Malay, 23 years
life is one of the causes of the happiness. old) “Communicate with other people to get
Security mentioned by only one participants advice how to handle the problems”
“Male, Dusun, 21 years old” (Female, Kadazan, 21)
Majority of the study participants (11) stated
What do make you unhappy? that praying and reading Al-Quran is one of
the ways to handle sadness.
Majority of the participants mentioned that “Always pray and try to be close with God”
not enough money make them unhappy. (Female, Malay, 22 years old)
“Don’t have enough money makes me not Majority of the female participants (5)
happy.” (Female, Malay, 23 years old) mentioned that shopping is one of the ways
Eight of the study participants mentioned to handle sadness; only one male used this
that family and friends problems make them way to handle sadness. Three of the
unhappy. Five of them mentioned that participants mentioned that thinking
failure in life or in exam make them positively is one of the ways to handle
unhappy. Four mentioned that negative sadness.
thinking makes them unhappy. Three of the Three of the study participants mentioned
study participants mentioned that stress that jogging is one of the ways to handle
makes them unhappy and other three sadness. Three of the participants mentioned
participants mentioned that doing mistakes that sleep is one of the ways to handle
in their life make them unhappy. sadness. Three of the participants
Two of the study participants mentioned that mentioned that eating is one of the ways to
self-conflict makes them unhappy, and one handle sadness and other three of them
participant mentioned that load of study and mentioned that crying is one of the ways to
gossips make her unhappy. handle sadness.
“Too much time of studying and busy doing “For me, crying is the way I handle the
assignment and projects thus I have limit sadness because I feel relief after crying”
time to spend with my family, too much (Female, Malay, 21)
gossip and controversy in facebook” Two of the study participants mentioned that
(Female, Malay, 21 years old). watching TV is one of the ways to handle
sadness, and another two mentioned that
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

outdoor activities are one of the ways to “I don’t want to change anything; I am
handle sadness. pleased with what God give me” (Male,
“Does more activity that will make us Dusun, 25 years old).
forget the sadness?” (Female, Malay, 22). “I love myself, why should I change?”
Reading some motivation books, reading (Female, Malay, 23 years old)
novels, rest, smile, play game are some of “I will never change anything because this
the ways mentioned by only one participant. will make me regret. I just want to change
my future and not my past.” (Female,
If you could live your life all over again, Malay, 22 years old)
you would like to change percentage (%),
What are the things you would like to Discussion
change?
Religion and Happiness
Four of the study participants mentioned that
if they could live their life again, they would Several studies based on national samples
like to change all their life to correct their indicated that happiness correlates
mistakes. significantly with religiosity [5&6]. Pollner
“I would like to change all my past life and [7] stated that religious experiences can
correct all my mistakes.” (Female, Malay, provide a sense of meaning and purpose in
22 years old) daily life. Religiosity may provide social
Some of the participants mentioned that they and psychological benefits. “Religion may
would like to change their finical status. increase feeling of efficacy, control and
“I would like to change my economy status security and may therefore provide greater
and change my race.” (Male, Malay, 21 benefits for the cognitive aspects of
years old) subjective well-being” [5]. Several studies
Money status, confident, relationship with demonstrated a significant positive
friends (Female, Malay, 24) correlation between happiness and
Five of the study participants would like to religiosity after controlling for the possible
change their attitudes, “I would like to contaminating influence of personality [8-
change my attitude” (Male, Malay, 25 years 12]. Different other studies showed a
old), “I want to change my attitude and be positive relationship between religion and
better than now” (Female, Malay, 21 years happiness [13-17]. Meanwhile, other
old) studies didn’t find a relationship between the
Three of the students want to change their religion and happiness [18-20]. Positive and
weakness, one of the male participants satisfaction effect of the religion, family,
wants to change his gender “I would like to friends, leisure time on happiness and life
change my gender.” (Male, Malay, 22 years were confirmed in the previous studies [21],
old) religion increases the personal happiness
One of the male participants wants to [22&23].
change his weight, I would like to change
my life style Income and Happiness
Three students mentioned that they do not
want to change anything in their previous All participants of the present study
life. mentioned that the main source of happiness
is the money. One of the determinants of
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

happiness in most studied has been the one Similar study reported that bad health is
relating to an objective measurement of strongly associated with unhappiness [30],
economic status. In rich countries; it has health status has the highest positive
been found that differences in wealth within significant effect on life satisfaction.
nations showed only small positive Furthermore as health status improves life
correlation with happiness [24]. Rather, satisfaction and happiness increase [21].
happiness tends to lie in the quality of Happiness is associated with success in
friendship and of family life once people many domains of life [33].
rise above the poverty level [25]. However,
it has been found that an increase in income
does not necessary lead to a higher level of References
happiness [26]. A study found that a certain
level of economic well-being would seem to 1. Argyle M. 2001. The Psychology of
be a necessary condition of happiness, but Happiness. 2nd Ed. East Sussex:
after people reach a certain level of income, Routledge.
more money does not lead to greater
happiness. Similarly, it has been found that 2. Ahn N., Garcia, J.R., Jimeno, J.F.
increased income and possession of more The impact of unemployment on
and more material goods have little impact individual well-being in the EU.
on the feeling of well-being. Rather, Europen Network of Economic
happiness tends to be associated with Policy Research Institutes, Working
friendships and family life once people rise paper, 2004; 29: 1
above the poverty level [25]. Two economic
factors have been considered in their 3. Argyle M, Martin M., Lu L. Testing
relationship with happiness: unemployment for stress and happiness: the role of
and income, with regard to the social and cognitive factors. In C.D.
unemployment, most studies mentioned that Spielberger and I.G Sarason (Eds.),
either unemployment or beyond the Stress and Emotion, 1995;15: 173-
consequent loss of income are significant 187.
source of unhappiness and dissatisfaction
[27&28]. Income level seems to be 4. Wilson W. Correlates of avowed
associated with happiness [29] showed a happiness. Psychological Bulletin,
positive relationship between income and 1967: 67, 294-306
happiness. Similar study reported that
subjective relative income seems to be an 5. Diener E, Suh, EM, Lucas RE and
important source of financial satisfaction Smith HL. Subjective well-being:
[30]. Psychology study has found a positive three decades of progress.
correlation between economic well-being Psychological Bulletin, 1999; 125:
(socioeconomic status) and happiness [31]. 276-302.
A research on happiness in the European
Union explores that income is the most 6. Lewis CA., Cruise S. M. Religion
important determinant [32]. and happiness: Consensus,
contradictions, comments and
Some of the students mentioned that one of concerns. Mental Health, Religion &
the causes of happiness is a good health. Culture, 2006; 9: 213–225.
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

7. Pollner M. Divine relations, social 14. Veenhoven R. Happiness a trait?


relations and well-being. Journal of SocialIndicators Research , 1994:
health and social behavior, 1989; 30: 101-160.
92-104.
15. Witter RA, Stock WA, Okun MA,
8. Robbins M, Francis, LJ. 1996. Are Haring MJ. Religion and Subjective
religious people happier? A study Well Being in Adulthood: A
among undergraduates. In L.J. Quantitative Synthesis, Review of
Francis, W.K. Kay and W.S. Religious Research, 1985; 332-342.
Campbell (Eds.), Research in
religious education. Leominster: 16. Zuckerman Dm, Kasl Sv, Ostfeld
Gracewing. University Press, pp. AM. American Journal of
207–217. Epidemiology, 2003; 119: 410- 423.

9. Francis LJ, Lester D. Religion. 17. Mookerjee R, Beron K. Gender,


Personality and happiness. Journal of religion and happiness, Journal of
Contemporary Religion, 1997; 12: Socio Economics, 2005; 9: 213-225.
81–86.
18. Heisel MA, Faulkner AO.
10. French S, Joseph S. Religiosity and Religiosity in an Older Black
its association with happiness, Population, Gerontologist, 1982; 22:
purpose in life, and self- 354-358.
actualisation. Mental Health,
Religion and Culture, 1999; 2: 117– 19. Janssen F, Bänziger S, Dezutter, J,
120. Hutsebaut D. The underlying aspects
of the relation between religion and
11. Francis LJ, Jones SH., Wilcox C. mental health. Archive for the
Religiosity and happiness: during Psychology of Religion, 2005; 27:
adolescence, young adulthood and 19-45.
later life. Journal of Psychology and
Christianity, 2000; 19: 245–257. 20. Abdel-Khalek AM. Happiness,
health, and religiosity: Significant
12. Francis LJ, Robbins M. Religion and relations. Mental Health, Religion
happiness: A study in empirical and Culture, 2006; 9: 85-97.
theology. Transpersonal Psychology
Review, 2000; 4: 17–22. 21. Selim S. Life Satisfaction and
Happiness in Turkey. Soc Indic Res,
13. Moberg and Taves. Religion and 2008; 88:531–562.
happiness: Consensus,
contradictions, comments and 22. Inglehart R, Rabier JR. Aspirations
concerns, Mental Health, Religion & adapt to situations-but why are the
Culture, 1965P; 9: 213-225. Belgians so much. (happier than the
French? A cross-cultural analysis of
the subjective quality of life. In F. M.
Andrews (Ed.), Research on the
Perceptions And Opinion Of Happiness Among University Students In A Malaysian University
ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 11 (2) July – December 2010: XX XX

quality of life (pp. 1–56). Michigan: 28. Gerlach K, Stephan G. A paper on


The Survey Research unhappiness and unemployment in
Center/Institute for Social Research. Germany. Economics Letters, 1996;
Argyle, M. (1989). The psychology 52: 325–330.
of happiness. London: Routledge.
1986. 29. Veenhoven R. 1989. National wealth
and individual happiness. In:
23. Myers DG. The funds, friends, and Grunert, K.G., O¨ lander, F. (Eds.),
faith of happy people. American Understanding Economic Behaviour.
Psychologist, 2000; 55: 56–67. Kluwer Academic Publishers,
Dordrecht.
24. Ahuvia CA, Wong NY. “Personality
and Values Based Materialism: their 30. Peir´o A. Happiness, satisfaction and
Relationship and Origins,” Journal of socio-economic conditions: Some
Consumer Psychology, 2004; 12: international evidence. The Journal
389-402. of Socio-Economics, 2006: 35:348–
365
25. Lane RE. 2000. The Loss of
Happiness in Market Eeconomies. 31. Fuentes, N., Rojas, M. Economic
Yale University Press, New Haven. theory and subjective well-being:
Mexico. Social Indicators Research,
26. Moller V. 2005. “Researching 2001; 53: 289–314.
Quality of Life in a Developing
Country: Lessons from the South 32. European Foundation for the
African Case.” In I. Gough & A. Improvement of Living and Working
McGregor (eds.), New approaches Conditions in Europe. Quality of life
and research strategies. Cambridge in Europe. Life satisfaction in an
University Press, Cambridge. enlarged Europe, Dublin, 2004.

27. Clark AE, Oswald AJ. Unhappiness 33. Okun M, Levy R, Karoly P,
and unemployment. Economic Ruehlman L. Dispositional happiness
Journal, 1994; 104: 648-659. and college student GPA: Unpacking
a null relation. Journal of Research
in Personality, 2009; 3: 711–715.

Corresponding Author: Dr. Redhwan Ahmed Al-Naggar, International Medical School,


Management and Science University (MSU), 40100, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan,
Malaysia.

Email: Radhwan888@yahoo.com

Received: 25 July 2010 Accepted: 10 August 2010