ENGLISH 104 FINAL: Are you a happy human being? Why/ why not? Use Russell’s and the Dalai Lama’s definitions of “happiness” and “contentment” as the basis for your answer

ENGLISH 104 FINAL: Are you a happy human being? Why/ why not? Use Russell’s and the Dalai Lama’s definitions of “happiness” and “contentment” as the basis for your answer 150 150 Affordable Capstone Projects Written from Scratch

ENGLISH 104 FINAL: Are you a happy human being? Why/ why not? Use Russell’s and the Dalai Lama’s definitions of “happiness” and “contentment” as the basis for your answer

Based on what we’ve discussed concerning happiness, pleasure, and the individual vs. society through the texts we’ve read, the films we’ve watched, and the Moodle posts you’ve written, please answer the following prompt:

Use Russell’s and the Dalai Lama’s definitions of “happiness” and “contentment” as the basis for your answer. This means you will need to approach this question holistically and critically, not in a joking manner (think about the fact that Russell discusses two sides of the same coin that equate in happiness, while the Dalai Lama introduces new ideas that affect happiness such as greed and materialism). Do not scoff at the simplicity of this question, for all complex ideas appear simple on the surface, just as all life begins with a single cell. Take some time to let this question ruminate in your mind and heart, and really take the time to look at yourself and your life.


You’ve already written essays about morality, goodness, righteousness, beauty, justice, and humanity, and I’m sure that in the process of writing those essays you experienced some sort of mini existential crisis of your own (which is good, by the way!). This is your opportunity to start down the path of self-analysis and objectively rate yourself as a human being—

  • who are you?
  • how are you?
  • how do you see yourself?
  • how do others see you?
  • what drives you?
  • what positive and negative characteristics do you have?
  • what makes you cry?
  • what makes you feel shame?
  • how do you act toward those superior and inferior to you?
  • how do you treat nature and animals?
  • what do you spend your time on?
  • what do you want from life (and why)?
  • who is your role model?
  • who/ what influences your life?
  • are you good/ bad?
  • are you righteous?
  • are you a fighter or worm?
  • do you kneel to authority?
  • are you brave or fearful?
  • what emotions rule you (or are you ruled by cold logic)?
  • what are you willing to die for?
  • who/ what (if anything) do you place above you?
  • what is the most important thing in your life?
  • do you know your purpose on this earth?
  • what are your fears, dreams, ambitions, secrets, guilty pleasures, etc.?
  • what would you change about you if anything) and why?
  • do you love yourself?
  • are you worthy of being loved?
  • are you a worth human being?


You don’t have to answer these questions in your essay (though you’ll have to incorporate at least a few in the process of explaining why you are or are not happy), but you should definitely think about the answers to these and questions like these before you sit down to write this paper. Now, I understand that I’m asking you to cram into a small amount of time and space questions that will realistically take you a lifetime to figure out, but give it a try. Take the first step…


In the process of your explanation about why you are or are not a happy human being, I want you to give examples from life that make you happy or not. These can be grand things or little, unnoticeable moments of beauty and serenity, like Ricky’s dancing plastic bag in American Beauty. Whatever you choose, you must explain it. Discuss how that happiness can be maintained (if you have it) or attained (if you don’t). In other words, what do you need to be happy? Are you a happy person by nature or do you just have moments of happiness?


Remember, this is still an argumentative paper, which means you need to argue that you are or are not happy. So for example, if I’m arguing that I’m a happy human being, I may say that an example of what makes me happy is hearing the sound of birds singing in the quiet and solitude of a hike, or that first glimpse of the ocean as it opens up around the bend when you take Las Virgenes Canyon to PCH. But then I need to explain how/why this makes me happy, so I may say that the sound of the birds makes me happy because the music they make in the quiet of the trees makes me feel peaceful and gives me a moment of harmony in a world of chaos and noise; the sight of the ocean opening up around the bend makes me happy because it’s like opening a present, when you’ve been driving through a canyon of grandeur in which you are nothing but a speck, and then you come into view of water, as if you’d been in the desert, of water that is part of an even grander body, which puts you in your very small and limited place in the world, and being put in your place gives you a momentary sense of relief and absolvement. Now that I’ve explained my examples, though, I need to connect everything, so I need to bring this back to Russell and Dalai Lama, so I may say that both of these examples make me happy because they help me reach a sense of inner contentment and harmony with the world around me. They allow me for a moment to be happy with who I am and where I am, and to appreciate that moment for all it is, which then allows me to take that positivity and carry it out into the world. Something like that. Obviously, you will have to expand.


And please, I beg of you, don’t make this essay into a farce. By all means, explore your creative side, your philosophical side, explore notions of beauty and ugliness, dig deep, etc. But take this seriously. And be objective. Perhaps in analyzing yourself you’ll come to find that while you appear to me happy on the outside, you’re greedy and bound to material possessions, which, according to the Dalai Lama definition of inner contentment, means that you are not happy, and therefore what you define as “happiness” is really only a synthetic happiness or an illusion of the state of happiness. Think about it… I suggest that you re-read Russell and Dalai Lama, think about our discussions, your posts, and the films. Think, take a look inside, and then write. Good luck!






  • min. 3 pages (you know what this means… and if you’d like to write more, you’re always welcome J)…. There’s a lot to cover here, and although I obviously reward quality over quantity, you may want to think about the message you’re sending if you turn in the bare minimum…. Just saying…
  • You may use 1st person (obviously)
  • MLA standards
  • No rubric is required



DUE: on the day of the final exam