“Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.”

–Roy Goodman
education and happiness

Ever since we are grown enough to hear and understand what we’re told, we keep hearing about the importance of studying. Our family, our teachers, and schoolmates, the media, – our whole environment keeps drumming it into our heads that if we study well and possibly get a degree, we will definitely be respected, successful in life, and – ultimately – happy.

Happiness is what we strive for at all times, every tiniest thing that we do is aimed at our happiness. So, logically, we generalize and redirect this strive and effort into our education – effectively or not. Children are expected to study well and get a good education to be happy in life, and people seldom doubt it.

The fun thing is that they seldom bother explaining the connection between education and happiness. Let us try and dig into this connection and try to answer the question – does having an education make you any happier?

At first, let us focus on education and happiness as factors in our life:


What makes us happy?

We are all different, so the answer will vary between people of different age, gender, ethnogeography, and socioeconomic groups. So, it is complicated to give a universal answer, but it is worth a shot. For this purpose, let’s see where people most commonly actually seek happiness and find it. The sources of happiness that come to mind are as follows:

– family and friends;

– professional or social involvement;

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– religion.

Sure, there can be others, but these are the most common ones, so let’s stick to them for the sake of generalization. How do we get happiness from these sources? They give us a sense of community, involvement, and appreciation, – which ultimately lead us to happiness.


What does education give us?

If you have done well at school, got excellent grades and were involved in extracurricular activities, you will certainly get yourself admitted into a good college. When you’re there, you once again study hard and take part in extracurricular activities until you finally get that degree (or even several). What does that give you?

Certainly, having a degree or several will help you to ensure a good career in the field of education and / or in your major. Perhaps, you will feel better materially than your classmates who were not so fortunate to get a degree of their own.
So ultimately, having a degree will get you a career where you do what you have grown to love (otherwise it would make little sense for you to go that far), and you are most likely to get decent payment for doing what you love.

Now, let us take a look at the touch-point where education happiness and may meet in our life:

As discussed before, professional involvement can give you the sense of appreciation and self-fulfillment which can serve as a source of happiness. Besides, it will get you in touch with similar-minded people, with whom you will make friends, and this will also contribute to your happiness. So, we can safely say that yes – a good education can ensure your happiness in life, given that you love what you do and sincerely enjoy doing it.

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But does that mean that a well-educated person with a degree or two is by default happier than a simple person from the working class? Well, to answer that let us take another look at the sources of happiness:

– Can a person without a degree have a loving family and a bunch of friends? There is no reason why they should not.

– Can a person with just a high school education truly enjoy their job and perform it to the fullest? They are pretty much expected to.

– Can a person who has not been to college be socially involved and be appreciated for that? Once again, lacking a degree should not stop them from that.

– Finally, can people with the more common education level be actively involved in religious practices and draw their happiness there? In fact, they are quite likely to.

This leads us to the conclusion that a person with a degree or two is not more likely to have happiness in his or her life than someone with the more modest education. And the other way around – education cannot ensure you a happy life, at least because that’s not what it’s meant for.

To sum it all up, we can assume that if you want to be happy, you should not trust the people telling you that a degree will get you there. You should only strive for education when you are positively convinced that this is what you want to do with your life, that it will bring you the sense of involvement, appreciation, self-fulfillment, and – ultimately – happiness. If not – don’t torture yourself, there are plenty of other ways to find happiness that are probably better for you.

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