Assignment: Defining Happiness

STEP 1: Watch this TED talk by Robert Waldinger, psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School. He discusses some of the results of the Grant study, which has followed groups of men over a 75 year, longitudinal study, and explains some of the factors leading to a happy life.

You can view the transcript for “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger” here (opens in new window).

STEP 2: After viewing this video about lessons from the longest study on happiness, ask yourself and write down your answers the following questions.

  1. How do I define happiness for myself?
  2. Do I consider myself a happy person right now?
  3. What do I need in my life in life in order to be happy?
  4. Who are the people in my life who affect my happiness?
  5. Do you think you will feel the same when you turn 65? Why or why not?

STEP 3: Talk to a grandparent or another relative or person you know who is at least 60 years old and ask them the following questions (attach a copy of these responses with your final paper).

  1. How do you define happiness for yourself?
  2. Do you consider yourself a happy person right now?
  3. What do you need in your life in life in order to be happy?
  4. Who are the people in your life who affect your happiness?
  5. Did you feel the same way when you were my age?
  6. What is the biggest difference between what you thought would make you happy when you were younger and what did make you happy as you got older?

STEP 4: Write a 2-3 page paper (500-800 words) that synthesizes and reflects upon the responses to these questions. As you write the paper, compare and contrast your own answers to the questions and those provided by the older person you interviewed. Were there similarities in your answers? What were some of the differences? Do you think happiness means something vastly different for younger vs. older people? Explain.

Follow APA protocols for writing an interview paper (see below). Reference your sources but do not include the last name of the person you interviewed to assure confidentiality.

  • Structure:
  •       Last name, FI. (Year, Month date). Interview type [email, phone, personal interview], personal interview with [third party FI Last Name]
  • Example:
    Smith, R. (2019, July 29). Personal interview.

The paper should be 12 point font with 1 inch margins.

Below is the rubric which you should follow as you are organizing your responses (from you and the person you interview) and then constructing your paper.

Sample Grading Rubric
Criteria Excellent Meets Expectations Below Expectations Total
Formatting and Interview Questions Mastery of assignment specific formatting; includes attached Q&A from interviews. Understanding of assignment requirement formatting, no more than 2 errors. Includes attached Q&A from interviews. Paper has substantial deficit in formatting. Does not include attached Q&A from interviews. __/4
Writing mechanics & grammar Mastery of organization and flow of writing. Paper is easy to read. Evidence of some organization and flow of writing Major deficits in organization. Grammar and structure considerably inconsistent __/4
Content Paper demonstrates high level of critical thinking and discussion of question responses. Analysis goes beyond surface level, tying responses to reference (video) material Paper goes beyond repeating information from sources. Discussion of, or justification for response is present at times tough some responses are not addressed minor or absent Paper only repeats information from sources. Discussion of, or justification for response is minor or absent __/12
Total___/20

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