SoHE and the Study of HAPPINESS

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HAPPINESS is not something ready-made. It comes
from your own actions. — Dalai Lama

In 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring the pursuit of happiness “a fundamental human goal” and urging countries to factor happiness into their measures of national well-being.

While happiness may be a fundamental goal, it can also be elusive. As a school whose #1 focus is solving societal problems, we’ve turned more attention in recent years to the study of happiness, including work by these doctoral candidates and the professors they count among their SoHE mentors.


Shari BlumenstockShari Blumenstock has worked with SoHE’s Human Ecology Well-being Professor, Dr. Linda Roberts, to explore links between sexual satisfaction, marital satisfaction and overall well-being. Her own research focuses on sexuality in romantic relationships, following a passion for how science can empower people to improve their lives. “There’s so much misinformation, especially about women’s sexual experiences,” Blumenstock says. “It causes all this anxiety and makes relationships unnecessarily difficult. I want to help make those relationships better, healthier, happier.”

Dayana Kupsick

Dayana Kupisk has taught SoHE’s Consuming Happiness class, created by Dr. Christine Whelan, director of the Money, Relationships and Equality initiative. The class explores evidence-based lessons on living well: How investing in others and/or experiences improves well-being, for example. “In college, the focus is often on how to make money,” Kupisk says. “We don’t talk enough about the meaning behind our money.” Her own work focuses on practical wisdom and how people can make better decisions. “When we live aligned with our values,” she says, “we make the world a better place, and we’re happier as a result.”

William PalmerWill Palmer works with Dr. Charles Raison, the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children and Families, renowned for his work studies of depression and stress-related conditions. In one study, they explored the effect of infrared heat on emotional well-being. Another study tracked how cognitively based compassion training affects emotions and immunity. In his own research, Palmer seeks to better understand how various activities improve functioning and mood. “By testing how different exercises open sensory pathways, we hope to pinpoint the mechanisms that create different psychological states,” Palmer says, “ultimately leading to better treatments and preventions.”

Meet more of SoHE’s current graduate students.


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