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Eddie Victoria

Professor Beadle

English 115

5 December 2018

The Roads to Happiness

There are several roads one can take in attempt to achieve long-lasting happiness. In

“What Suffering Does” by David Brooks, “Living with Less. A Lot Less.” by Graham Hill, and

“How Happy Are You and Why?” by Sonja Lyubomirsky; each author presents their main idea

about using different roads in order to somehow achieve happiness, as space simultaneously

transforms. David executes his focus on both internal and external space, writing about how

negative uncontrollable circumstances will effect one’s inner being and recovery. Graham Hill

focuses on external space by illustrating physical adventures that one could take, resulting in

larger amounts of happiness. The main focus of Sonja Lyubomirsky is in regard to internal

space and having the ability to control a large segment of one’s ability to be happy. Despite the

several different arguments given by each author, each one is attempting to expose the reasoning

behind true happiness and the occurrence of transformation.

David Brooks centers his argument on internal space, as he provides his explanation on

how people react differently to suffering and inner struggles. However, he also put some of his

focus on external space, due to outside circumstances affecting the person in different ways. He

mentions that “suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations, what they

can control and cannot control” (Brooks 286). Brooks argues that the happiness and healing

derived from suffering is not controllable by any individual, but one can transform from this
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inner space of suffering by adapting to life and healing. If a damaged person leaves a negative

scenario more improved or self-aware, it proves that suffering can be beneficial. A person an

react to suffering in such a way that they can benefit themselves, or end up even closer to the

brink of destruction. Brooks believes that people “can’t determine the course of their pain, but

they can participate in responding to it” (Brooks 286). Brooks clearly informs the reader about

how the path of pain is uncontrollable, but one can still react to it. This way, it is evident that

pain is inevitable; but it will result in a better or worsened life depending on how one wishes to

react to it. Through portraying one’s struggle regarding their internal space, Brooks completes

his argument about how space can be positively transformed by finding happiness in even the

most painful of scenarios.

Sonja Lyubomirsky focuses on the main idea of happiness in regards to internal space;

claiming that one can find controllable circumstances in life to make themselves happier, and

that a person is never completely helpless. Although Lyubomirsky believes that fifty percent of

what determines happiness unchangeable, she also promotes that forty percent of what

determines happiness is in fact controllable, while ten percent is circumstantial. People can

transform this internal space of struggling with happiness by controlling their decisions, to result

in a more positive outcome. Trying to make the best out of one’s circumstances is essential for

happiness, however, one should not try to change them excessively because there are risks

involved. Lyubomirsky states that “circumstantial changes may prove unsuccessful in making us

permanently happier: because they can be very costly, often impractical, and sometimes even

impossible” (Lyubomirsky 195). Sonja Lyubomirsky argues that the forty percent of control

should always be used to your advantage, because circumstantial changes are often “impractical”

or even “impossible”. This forty percent should constantly be embraced especially if the person
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has genetic depression issues, as this control is essential for discovering potential happiness.

Lyubomirsky specifies that “happiness can be found in how you behave, what you think, and

what goals you set every day of your life” (Lyubomirsky 196). These aspects will help one get

on this road to happiness if they control them while striving for a positive outcome. If a person

wishes to live a happier life, they must act with positivity and friendliness. Being well-behaved

with upbeat thinking is critical to one’s success, as opposed to having poor behavior with

pessimistic thinking. Setting goals would provide a person with a sense of purpose, while

achieving short term or long term goals would result in one feeling more satisfied with

themselves or fulfilled. If a person can do anything within their reach to put themselves on a road

toward happiness, then they must execute. Lyubomirsky believes that one can reach their desired

goal of happiness by using internal space to transform themselves in a positive manner.

Graham Hill places his focus on external space, and emphasizes the use of living with

less material luxury, as he begins his essay with a description of his studio. Hill argues that it is

more likely to achieve happiness without the constant need for material items, and that happiness

is derived from lively journeys and experiences that occur when one is adventuring. For

example, Graham Hill mentions how he “wouldn’t trade a second wandering around Bangkok

with Olga for anything [he’s] owned” (Hill 312). Hill continues to push his argument by

suggesting that interaction with other humans and living life in the moment will take one on a

road toward happiness. Hill argues that an excess of items can actually be worse for a person

because it induces stress, and that a simple life is a better life without such items to worry about.

He claims that he “[feels] better that [his] carbon footprint is significantly smaller than [his]

previous super-sized life” (Hill 311). In this example, Hill takes the moral high ground by

pushing his narrative of being environmentally friendly. The author continuously does this
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throughout his writing, and mentions how “[he] [sleeps] better knowing [he’s] not using more

resources than [he] [needs]” (Hill 312). Not only does Hill wish to preserve this external space

around him, but he also references his own real life experiences alongside the ideology of

physical items and spaces to convey his message of living with less and adventuring; which

supports his compelling and sturdy argument.

As Brooks dove in to the topic of being happier after persisting through hardships, it was

evident that struggling is essential to establishing a sense of happiness or pain. Life will induce

pain and surprise one with unexpected circumstances, but that does not entirely mean the

outcome of the situation will be adverse; in fact, life could improve and be better than it was to

begin with. Brooks uses this sense of internal and external space to display how one might

struggle on the inside, only being capable of reacting to the circumstance. This inner space,

however, will be transformed through natural recovery from the situation. This differs from

Lyubomirsky’s more straight forward argument, that a person can voluntarily commit righteous

actions so that their happiness level would rise; anyone can control at least forty percent of what

they do to be happy. One must set and attain goals, act as though they have purpose, and live a

more uplifting life in order to harness the full forty percent of control and transform into a more

joyful being. She suggests that through using conscious action to help oneself, one can transform

their inner space to become more optimistic and not feel worthless. Hill argues, however, that in

order to become happy, one should simply live with less. It will provide a more adventurous life

and thankful thought process, as well as stress reduction and a less significant carbon footprint.

One must transform their external space by adventuring the real world with less material items,

in order to achieve a genuine happiness. Each author presents a metaphorical road that could be

taken to achieve happiness and transform one’s internal or external space. A road of growth from
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past hardships would transform one’s internal and external space, a road of embracing self-

control and positivity transforms one’s internal space, and a road of living life to the fullest

without the need for material objects results in a transformation of one’s external space. The

crucial process of transforming one’s space lies within these roads to happiness, as each author

presents their road in different aspects to inform the audience of their unique solutions on

attaining genuine happiness.


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Work Cited

Brooks, David. “What Suffering Does” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew Parfitt and

Dawn Skorczewski; Bedford St. Martin’s 2018.

Hill, Graham. “Living with Less. A Lot Less.” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew Parfitt

and Dawn Skorczewski; Bedford St. Martin’s 2018.

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. “How Happy Are You and Why” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew

Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski; Bedford St. Martin’s 2018.