Happiness is an important indicator of mental health and quality of life, espe-cially for retired persons. Aging is viewed as a holistic social psychological phenomenon, and retirement is a significant developmental stage of life that brings with it major changes in a person’s roles and relationships, including status within the family, social status more broadly, and a loss of the sense of self-achievement that results from no longer working (Anson, Antonovsky, Sagy, & Adler, 1989). Aging brings with it a decline in one’s physical functions and changes in the family struc-ture resulting, for example, from a spouse passing away or a son or daughter marrying. Such changes may also cause a decline in the elderly person’s mental health status and well-being. Therefore, the current analysis will refer to the concept of “happiness” in the retired aged population. The purpose of this article is to pro-vide an analysis of the concept of happiness to develop a clear definition, identify attributes, antecedents and consequences of the concept, and develop model cases to form a clearly structured definition and contributed for further research and implica-tion .
2.1.1 Definition of happiness
The concept of '' happiness'' is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive psychology (Lu, 2001). Philosophers and religious thinkers often define hap-piness as having a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion (Judge
& Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011; Vitrano, 2010). There are tiny difference between East
and West countries because of culture difference (Lu et al., 2001). However, the con-cept of happiness is correspond to what positive psychology endeavor that getting in the flow of meaningful life (Majani, n.d.). It is certainly that the perspective from psychologist, scientist, economist, philosopher and religious thinker all suggested that the concept of happiness means a meaningful life and well-being. It seems that the concept of happiness is widespread whatever Eastern culture or Western culture.
The study of happiness has been approached from a variety of perspectives.
Though happiness is important in maintaining health, few studies of happiness can be found in the nursing literature. This paper analyzes the concept of happiness through examining its conceptual definition, defining attributes, antecedents, consequences, and conceptual model for clinical nursing implication to provide information and the-oretical model for future research in the viewpoint of nursing. Happiness has been defined as below (Table 1).
Happiness, understood as subjective well-being, both China and USA were characterized as a multidimensional construct that consists of cognitive and emo-tional elements (Davern, Cummins, & Stokes, 2007), and has three components: life satisfaction, positive affect and the absence of negative affect (Zhang, Yang, &
Wang, 2009). It has been defined as “a mental state of satisfaction“, a harmonious homeostasis of inner experience especially in Chines culture(Lu, 2001). One of ele-ments in happiness, life satisfaction, which means the individual's attitude to their own lives (Bekhet, Zauszniewski, & Nakhla, 2008), and consists of five factors: zest, resolution, congruence, self-concept, and mood tone (Bishop, Martin, & Poon, 2006).
Happiness is originated form the “hedonistic “approach to well-being that generally defined as the presence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect (Deci &
Ryan, 2006). Core affect of happiness is the force behind individual to set point in homeostasis status (Davern et al., 2007).
Happiness was probably composed of three related components, positive af-fect, absence of negative affect and life satisfaction, which was measured by Chinese Happiness Inventory (CHI). The 48-item measurement was based on both Western questionnaire and qualitative research survey in Chinese population and testing of re-liability and validity in several studies (Lu & Lin, 1998; Lu & Shih, 1997; Lu, Shih, Lin, & Ju, 1997; Lu, 2006). The item total correlation are very high with no item dropped, exploratory factor analysis showed that only one factor with internal consis-tency was .95, test-retest reliability within 1 month interval was .66 (Lu & Shih, 1997).
2.1.2 Defining Attributes
The function of critical attributes are much like criteria for making differen-tial diagnosis and help to differentiate the concepts from others similar or related to it (Walker & Avant, 2011). According to Lee and Im (2007), the meaning of self-en-hancement refers to people’s conscious or unconscious distortion,ignorance or omis-sion of incoming stimuli so that they can perceive themselves in more positive, favorable manner. Therefore, Elderly people with higher self-enhancement were pre-dicted to perceive negative life events less negatively and perceive more positive life events. A correlation of 0.26 was found between subjective happiness and self-en-hancement (Lee & Im, 2007). On the other hand, elderly with more self-enself-en-hancement is believed to help coping in stressful situations, and help engagement in productive and creative work (Lee & Im, 2007), so self-enhancement can contributed to the
abil-Sense of coherence( SOC) is described as a part of the individual’s way of coping with life, not as a personality variable (Söderberg, Lundman, & Norberg, 1997). There are three mutually interacting components: comprehensibility, manage-ability and meaningfulness (Shiu, 2004). Sense of coherence was defined as “ a global orientation that expresses the extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring, thought dynamic, feeling of confidence that one's internal and external environment are predictable (Antonovsky & Sagy, 1986). Study results indicated that SOC is a good predictor of the individual retiree's adaptation and also plays an important role in coping with stressful experiences of individual who experienced a major life tran-sition of retirement (Sagy & Antonovsky, 1992). Moreover, SOC contributes to men-tal health and psychosocial functioning and also contributes to emotional well-being in the face of constant tension arising from managing chronic illnesses (Shiu, 2004).
SOC is related to perceived level of stress and well-being, also related to life satisfac-tion (Söderberg, Lundman, & Norberg, 1997).
As noted previously, life satisfaction is the core element of the happiness,which means satisfied with life as a whole accompanying with presence of positive affect and absence of negative affect. However, satisfaction of a whole life can be originated from a higher SOC because of the ability of stress coping and also contributed to enhance the level of self-enhancement that they can perceive them-selves in more positive way.
2.1.3 Variables associated with happiness
Many studies have examined the associations between happiness and a num-ber of variables. Economists proposed that social economical status such as income, education level were found to have indirect effects on happiness (Bishop et al.,
2006). Otherwise, culture diversity is another important variable associated with hap-piness. The Chinese culture are originated most from Confucian values, which em-phasized the harmony of the group and stress the collective welfare of the family (Lu, 2001). The traditional (social- oriented) Chinese self differs from the Western culture (individual-oriented), and then under this collective orientation, Chinese cul-ture emphasizes positive relations with others and stresses the happiness as a harmo-nious homeostasis (Lu, 2008). Studies also showed that the quality of governance and welfare policy appears to be more important for happiness (Ott, 2009).
Many predictors of happiness have been identified in the literature. Most of the studies, however, were conducted with predicting happiness found that physical factor, psychological factors and social factors can indirectly improve subjective well-being. Antecedents affecting the concept of happiness in physical elements in-clude physical activity and healthy life style (Knechtle, 1999; Piqueras, Kuhne, Vera-Villarroel, van Straten, & Cuijpers, 2011), exercise, health status (Rasciute &
Downward, 2010), medical problems (Hirsch et al., 2009). Moreover, the psycholog-ical factors include cognitive performance, psychologpsycholog-ical variables (Kim, 2003), such as emotion, mood, depression and perceived stress (Schiffrin & Nelson, 2008), self-efficacy and optimism (Bowling & Iliffe, 2011). Finally, the social factors in-clude social support (Ngai & Chan, 2011; Warburton, Bartlett, & Rao, 2009), family support (Warburton et al., 2009), and friendship (Demir & Özdemir, 2009; Demır &
Weitekamp, 2006). For the purpose of this analysis, the antecedents to the production of the happiness in retired elders have been broadly classified as physical,
psycho-distress or social isolation can depress the level of happiness and vice versa.
Studies have examined the consequences of happiness mostly focused on suc-cessful aging in aged population. Sucsuc-cessful aging as avoiding disease by taking preventive measures, minimizing risks for disability, having good cognitive and physical function and engaging in life (Hsu, Tsai, Chang, & Luh, 2010). Successful aging was defined as follows: the living environment in a community or city is bene-ficial for physical, psychological and social health, and the people living in the area are well informed about the issues that pertain to maintaining health and behave in ways that promote their health (Hsu, et al., 2010). There are two main components:
physical health and mental health. Several studies show that happiness can prevent the onset of depression, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory tract infections (Rich-man et al., 2005; Wood & Joseph, 2010), and a meta-analysis confirms that happiness is a protective factor for survival in both healthy and diseased populations (Chida &
Steptoe, 2008). On the other hand, studies also showed that happiness was inversely associated with mortality, which predicts for lower mortality and longer life ex-pectancy, which may partly be mediated by more physical activity and lower morbidity (Frey, 2011; Koopmans et al., 2008). Moreover, happiness also benefit to mental health. A10 years longitudinal study indicated that the absence of positive well-being forms a substantial risk factor for depression, in other word, when people have more happiness can prevent them form depressed (Wood & Joseph, 2010). A cohort study also revealed that decreased risk thoughts of suicide is predicted by the presence of happiness (Hirsch et al., 2009). Thus, preventing from depression and suicide could be a consequence of happiness. However, a cross-sectional study that
examined self-reported happiness is strongly related to mental health status (Per-neger, Hudelson, & Bovier, 2004). However, the concepts of quality of life and happiness relate to each other remains a matter of debate. Happiness is another and more prominent aspect of the quality of life (Ventegodt, Andersen, & Merrick, 2003).
Happiness and subjective well-being are mutually interrelated, and indeed they are all closely connected with the notion of quality of life (Susniene & Jurkauskas, 2009). Enhancement of happiness is considered a form of alternative medicine, be-cause it promotes good mental health by increasing brain opioids, such endorphen (Ryff & Singer, 1998). Thus, mental health could be a consequence of happiness. The happiness model includes antecedents, attributes and consequences as Figure 1.
2.1.6 Influencing factors of happiness
22.214.171.124 Intellectual factors:
Intellectual resources provide individual with the means of buffering the ef-fect of chronic disease and illness with efef-fective compensation (Caplan & Schooler, 2003). Older people, frequently with age-related cognitive decline, need compensa-tion for problem solving skills by cognitive or intellectual resources to create appropriate environmental accommodation or improve personal capacity (Caplan &
Schooler, 2003). Emotion appraisal are different from individual's intellectual or cognitive mechanism (Forgas, 2008). Happiness are interpreted through appraisal-like processes, and the procedure are influenced by intellectual or cognitive resources. On the other hand, persons with positive affective state may selectively re-cruit assimilative and adaptive cognitive strategies to operate tasks (Forgas, 2008).
Positive perception and the source of happiness are positively associated with
re-framing coping strategies through intellectual or cognitive appraisal, the firmly char-acteristic and concept were identified by the study of mothers with disability children (Hastings, Allen, McDermott, & Still, 2002), Happiness emerges from available data as the resource leading to the development and better use of intellectual skills and re-sources (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
126.96.36.199 Physical factors:
Health status is an significant factor of physical resources to predict the status of happiness. Study indicated that the happiness perception of institutional caregiver were predicted by perceived health status (Lin, Lin, & Wu, 2010). Health is likely to be a important determent of happiness that happiness increase with health status (Gerdtham & Johannesson, 2001). A study based on 6,576 Norwegain twins to ex-amine the relations between happiness and health status and result showed that happiness correlated .50 with health status (Røysamb, Tambs, Reichborn-Kjennerud, Neale, & Harris, 2003). Moreover, a survey of life circle happiness in U.S. revealed that happiness edges downward as a continuing decline with a satisfaction with health status (Easterlin, 2006). A survey indicated that happiness was directly influ-enced by reported perception of health among older black Americans (Chatters, 1988). Above all, it can not be deny that health status plays an important role in hap-piness. Health status may protect against negative affect perception, and vice versa (Steptoe, Wardle, & Marmot, 2005). Happiness and health status are highly intercor-related and reciprocal elements.
188.8.131.52 Psychological factors:
The cause of happiness are highly correlated with psychological factor, such as self-esteem, emotion, self-efficacy. A study focused on 234 participants who mean age are 18.23 years exploring the predictors of happiness and result showed that self-esteem had a direct predict power .49 on happiness (Cheng & Furnham, 2003).
Another study exploring associations between happiness and psychosocial factors among adolescents showed that self-efficacy increased the odds of happiness (Natvig, Albrektsen, & Qvarnstrøm, 2003). However, psychological factors are cor-related with intellectual factors, such as coping, appraisal, with physical factor of health status, and these factors explains a significant correlation with psychological symptom (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986). Psychological status is a complicated outcome of intellectual, physical, psychosocial resources. Improving psychological factors of self-esteem or self-efficacy, emotion focused not only psy-chological domain, but intellectual, physical, social domains.
184.108.40.206 Social factors:
Social support is an important element in the domain of social factor, which help to reduce the deleterious effect of stress and promote happiness indirectly through self-esteem (Krause, 1987a). Social support counterbalances or buffers the negative effects of life stress among older adults and prevent them form depression (Krause, 1987b). Social support significantly correlated with emotional well-being (Abbey, Abramis, & Caplan, 1985).Improvement in social relations helped to buffer the decline in satisfaction of life and helped to offer a supportive exercise environ-ment for older adults to improve their happiness (McAuley et al., 2000). Moreover,
happiness. Family life is slightly positive correlated with happiness (Easterlin, 2006).
Studies showed that relationship with parents had a direct predictive power .18 of happiness (Cheng & Furnham, 2003). Friendship was also a significant predictor of happiness(Cheng & Furnham, 2002; Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). It seems that social relations to the supportive environment are significant determinants of happiness.
2.2 Influencing factors of happiness among perceived health, sense of