When it comes to individual happiness, it relates to too many things. Everyone in her life seeks happiness. Yet, especially to young people, happiness is narrowly perceived as something enjoyable. As long as it fulfills her physical contentment, then she is happy. But happiness is not sustained long enough. As the physical contentment is diminishing, happiness is decreasing until such a time that the happiness is gone and need a brand-new happiness. The physical needs and contentment are ranging from the lowest to the highest. Not only has the physical contentment needed to be fulfilled, but also the social property of the need has to be shown up. Besides she needs to dine, she also needs to give her properties value of dining: Which restaurant she must dine so as to get her social need of a higher class recognized by others. The cycle will be getting on and on. The farther the seeking journey to happiness, the harder the way can be stepped on. The seeker of the happiness will never find it as long as she does not know what it really is. To be a happy individual, one must understand what happiness is and what external force affects it.
The society where someone grows affects her happiness. Happiness is someone’s perception of how her life gives enjoyment, comfort, well-being and pleasure. This perception of mind to the reality has been growing day by day since she was born. The first social encounter was her house where she interacted with the father, the mother, and the brothers. They taught how she perceived things. When the mother praised her, she felt the enjoyment. When the father hugs and kissed her, she perceived the comfortable air. Opening the house door, she encountered a broader world of community. In the school, she learned that it is such an enjoyable moment when she knew that she had a better score in Math than her friends had. Put simply, happiness as Veenhoven (1996) in (David, Susan, Boniwell et. Al., 2012) stated, is the degree to which individual judges their life favorably.
What sociologist said
(Berger, 1963), a noted sociologist, stated that a society used various means to controls its member and no social entity would exist without social control. It means the whole things in individual life is partly affected and controlled by a society. In real life, the most common phenomenon is the language someone uses as a mother language. She uses a language where she was grown for the first years to grasp speech ability. American will speak English whereas Indonesian will speak Bahasa Indonesia. Adding to the language, the decent manner as how she must interact with the rest of social members is also prescribed by social control. In some culture such as Balinese in Indonesia, it will be considered not polite to have eye contact while communicating with elders. For Balinese, to assign “you” while communicating with the father is not allowed as it is common in English speaking culture.
In a sense of happiness, the same formula is applicable that a society creates the perception of happiness in someone mind. As a member in a society, one is expected to accord with its norms and values that are generally accepted by the society. One has to follow; otherwise there will be a punishment. Punishment is perceived as a factor affect man’s well-being negatively. As such, society predetermines what kind of happiness someone shall possess. The objective is to make a sustainable society. Its equilibrium will be shifted if the members of a society frequently break the rules.
To sustain equilibrium in a society, whether it is just a small group, a school, a town or a Nations, social control is set and demanded that all members uphold. These social controls are reflected in the form of norms and values and formally in the form of written laws. Someone who seeks happiness in her life is constrained by the reality of what her social circumstances provide. In that way, someone is forced to adjust her goals and strategies in pursuing economic well-being to the real surrounding constrains. In getting a higher education, which may be perceived as fulfilling the happiness, one has limited choice to what kind of institution she will attend because the institutions are already there the society established. To create entrepreneurial activities as a pursuit of economic welfares, again, one has to consider so many factors that will affect the course. These affecting factors are already there in a society.
From the ancient human history, up to now in the modern age, social control directs the social sustainability. It exists by the mean of controlling its members (Berger, 1963). The world current issue of social sustainability, if the world is viewed as a big social group, is terrorism. Terrorism deviates man from a very basic human value, not to kill innocent people for any reason. It endangers the society sustainability, either at the specific nation or at the broader region on Earth. The world’s social control is to get rid any form of terrorism. If the global community takes no action again terrorism, then the world will not sustain.
Another aspect of society that affects someone is that it affects minds subliminally. The way someone thinks, belief and absorbs values are determined by the society in a way that she does not even realized. One believes that helping other is a good value because the society tells her that. She thinks that traveling to the beach or to the mountain is something respectable because her friends tell her so or the media subliminally shows and persuade her. Nowadays, it is the media that direct unconsciously the society’s mind. Unconsciously enough, the media direct the mind to the rights and wrongs of phenomena. If the media says that the pure water is healthy, then the audience believes it without skeptical curiosity in mind. It is taken for granted. The inflow of the information from the media to a modern man is in such abundant manner, varies from garbage one to useful one.
Back to the story of happiness that someone is always pursuing, it is clear that society affects someone happiness. Happiness is concerned with physical, economic well-being and minds state of a person. The physical, economic well-being perceived by someone through the lesson from her society. She perceived to wear Guess brand as fulfilling her enjoyment by learning from other. Whereas other thinks that it does not necessarily to wear Guess to fulfill the enjoyment. He thinks that clean and fashionable wear is just enough regardless of the brand.
The latter is a man who looks at the outside of the windows. He is not trapped and entangled inside his society that teach him so. In the beginning paragraph, it is stated that society affects someone happiness partly. The society is not such a deterministic machine. It is the individual who decide what to be. Being a man, he is determined by a society and at the same time he determines the society.
Berger, P. L. (1963). Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective. Garden City, New York: Doubleday-Anchor.
David, Susan, Ilona Boniwell, and Amanda Conley Ayers, eds. Oxford handbook of happiness. Oxford University Press, 2012.