Pursuit of Happiness (Philosophy of Happiness)

10th Grade Humanities/Chemistry



(The picture on the right is of me wearing the paper machete head of one of the monster characters from the final production our class put on about happiness.)

The Pursuit of Happiness was an interdisciplinary project that revolved around the essential questions, "What is happiness? How do you get it? How can happiness be understood scientifically? Is happiness chemically induced?" Our goal was to understand the causes/consequences of society's mental illness, and different approaches to happiness. 

In Humanities, we began by studying excerpts from different philosophies (Epictetus, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Augustine, Schopenhauer, Bentham, Mill, Nozick, Richard Layard, Lyubomirsky, and Skidelsky) to see how perspectives on happiness changed through time. During this time, we also conducted independent happiness experiments to learn what personally brought us the most joy, and also how we could relieve stress. One such example was a week long experiment where we would go to the park for fifteen minutes at the beginning of every class. We were supposed to assign ourselves different activities we would do at the park every day. Some people would run or play ball, others would walk around conversing with their friends, and others would nap or read on a bench. We ended the week by reflecting on which activity brought us the most happiness. We then took what we'd learned from the philosophies, combined it with what we learned in our independent experiments, and constructed our own happiness philosophy.

Below is my happiness journal, where you can read about what I learned from two of my happiness experiments, as well as an entry about the philosophy of happiness in a movie of my choice. 


If you cannot view the document, the link to view is: 


Below are notes I took for a philosophy midterm we had to take, where I had to compare certain philosophies, briefly describe others, and present my constructed philosophy.


If you cannot view the document, the link to view is: 


We also read the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and had to analyze the different themes presented, such as the way humans are "contributing" to the destruction of the world, and how we ought to live if we want to change that (and how our actions are guided by a fake sense of happiness). On the right, I have attached the final draft of the literary analysis I wrote for the book.

If you cannot view the document, the link to view is:  http://tinyurl.com/ishmaelliteraryanalysis

Meanwhile in Chemistry, we spent time doing scientific analysis. We broke happiness up into different sections, such as doing something to pursue an interest, stepping out of your comfort zone, building or making something, and creating or doing something new. We then had to create a 30-day independent happiness experiment that revolved around one of those general characteristics, and we had to keep a journal we updated every time we engaged in the experiment (we had to do it at least ten times within the 30 day time frame). On the right, I have attached my personal reflection on the experiment, where I have included my various conclusions, as well as quotes from my different journals to justify them.
To view my full happiness journal:

To view my longer reflection:


If you cannot view the document on the right, the link to view is: 

The pictures below are of me during my happiness experiment. I wrote journal entries on each of these days.

Our final individual project deliverable was a research paper. We had to focus on the relationship between society and happiness/mental well being. Most people chose a specific topic to focus in on, and I chose sports/staying active,  arguing that there is a very direct and evident correlation between the two. We had to conduct original research in order to write this, and I did mine by creating two different surveys, sending each of them out to two different groups of people, and then comparing the results from each. I have attached my research paper on the right.

If you cannot view the document, click the following link to view: 

We ended the semester by creating a comedic classroom theater production about happiness, how we get it, and how we don't. The characters were monsters. We were assigned groups of about 4-6 people, and in this group we had to create a script involving our monster and its battle attaining happiness that could be added to the final play script. We also had to create a paper machete head and body of our monster that could be worn as a costume for the play.

On the right is the document I wrote and submitted  on behalf of our group for the final event's program. It goes over the scene synopsis for our monster, Bernianna, discusses the philosophical reference we included in our scene, and I added a personal lesson I took from working with my group on this project. 


If you cannot view the document, the link to view is:



If you would like to view the document for the final script (for the whole class), click on the following link. All the scenes with Bernianna in it were written by myself.