The Pursuit of Happiness

Critical Thinking Questions

In considering the three dimensions of happiness discussed in this section (the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life), what are some steps you could take to improve your personal level of happiness?


Answers will vary, but may include mentioning things that boost positive emotions (the pleasant life), developing and using skills and talents (the good life), and using one’s talents to help others (the meaningful life).

The day before the drawing of a $300 million Powerball lottery, you notice that a line of people waiting to buy their Powerball tickets is stretched outside the door of a nearby convenience store. Based on what you’ve learned, provide some perspective on why these people are doing this, and what would likely happen if one of these individuals happened to pick the right numbers.


These individuals’ affective forecasting is such that they believe their lives would be immeasurably happier if they won the lottery. Although winning would certainly lead to a surge of euphoria in the short term, long term they would likely adjust, and their happiness levels would likely return to normal. This fact is lost on most people, especially when considering the intensity and duration of their emotions following a major life event.