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Mitchell Fraye

Professor Beadle

English 115

September 27, 2018

The Art of Communicating Sunshine

Communication and the art of language is arguably one of the most important tools that

mankind has discovered. Relaying thoughts, ideas, and emotions has allowed us to expand

beyond our native instincts, and allowed us to develop all the way into the complex culture and

society of the twenty-first century. We have developed political systems, governments, and

economic structures, relying on communication and effective speaking to live alongside each

other with order and respect. This manipulation of composition and expression has allowed

writers to use strategies of rhetoric to express and relay their ideas for their audiences.

Specifically, the use of space in regards of writing has become important for these authors to

articulate and further express meaning in language. This can be physical or conceptual, as

everything from the format of the literature to the headspace of each individual audience member

will change the interaction of the communication. This mapping of metaphors has allowed

writers to communicate according to environment, as it can change interactions and overall effect

that both the writer and reader exchange with language. In the Articles “What Suffering Does”

by David Brooks, “Living with less. Alot Less.” by Graham Hill, and “How Happy are You? and

why?” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, we see three separate authors use different spaces to express and

argue thoughts about happiness and contentment. Brooks uses historical references and ethical

applications to show that grief and suffering, both physically and emotionally, will allow people

to live a more happy lifestyle. Hill's article uses personal anecdotes and narrative to talk about

physical space and the relationship of your environment and your emotions. It argues that

leading a less materialistic lifestyle will overall help you to lead a more fulfilling life.

Lyubomirsky breaks down happiness logically, using personal interviews and mathematics to

discover healthier ways of becoming happy. It also argues that behavior, goal-setting, mindset,

and both physical and emotional triggers can help lead that happier life. These 3 articles

manipulate space and rhetorical strategies to draw conclusions on how to live more prosperous

and content lives.

David Brooks attempts to question the idea of maximizing happiness in his article. By living

through suffering, he argues that it will allow yourself to live with more empathy and sympathy

for others, and overall live a happier lifestyle. His main evidence for supporting this claim is his

historical examples that draw conclusions based upon the actions of the individual later in their

life. One anecdote was that Brooks believed that the destruction and pain of the civil war was

important for Abraham Lincoln to emerge and help end the war. “He emerged with this sense

that there were deep currents of agony and redemption sweeping not just through him but

through the nation as a whole, and that he was just an instrument for transcendent tasks”

(Brooks, 286). As America was feeling that torment of fighting each other, his suffering, along

with the citizens of the United States, allowed him to be more compassionate as shown in his

second inaugural address and policy later in his life. He also stated that the physical suffering of

polio affected Franklin Roosevelt to be a more sympathetic president and to have more humane

policies. Brooks also appeals to his own credibility on the subject, as his diction and tone shows

confidence and expertise on this subject. This evidence and strategies are used to prove his

argument that suffering and anguish overall allows a growth of character and a happier situation

later in life. This grief can be either physical or emotional, and he suggests that we can transform

our emotional space and character through the overcomings of those hardships.

Graham Hill tries to argue that living with less objects, and overcoming our societal need for

physical wealth, will allow us to be happier and pleased with ourselves and our situation. By

using personal anecdotes, narrative, and hypothetical scenarios, he tries to persuade the reader by

appealing to the emotional side of the reader and connect to his personal story. He starts his

article by describing his current living situation, and his transition from owning a lot to owning a

little. He tries to use imagery and emotional diction so the reader can create the scenario of his

living situation, and relate it to their own. He would use powerful wording and phrases to create

an emotional response, and to prove his point of living an anti-material lifestyle. “Somehow this

stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me”

(Hill, 308). That quote allows Hill to connect with people who have been in the same place or the

same feeling; that someone else is controlling their life. His article is based upon the relationship

of your physical environment and your happiness and stress levels. Hill suggests that changing

your physical space and the amount of things you surround yourself with, is important as

“material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support”

(Hill, 313). Overall, he argues that changing your physical space and your interactions with

material objects will help your contentment and happiness throughout your life.

Sonja Lyubomirsky has a Ph.D in social psychology from Stanford and has published many

written works on the subject of happiness and its influences. She has a lot of credibility as a

expert on this subject and has allowed herself to become an active member in this field of

research. In this article “How Happy are You and Why?”, she tries to explore what factors go

into happiness and what steps can go into increasing happiness in their lifetime. Using the

scientific method, visual and mathematical ideas, personal interviews, and a strong and educated

diction, she argues that changing behavior, mindset, goal-setting, and other activities will allow

yourself to have an increase of happiness with yourself and your life. She starts out her article

with interviews of people who call themselves happy, and how/why they believe so. This is all

analyzed through a mathematical approach she calls the subjective happiness scale. She uses this

research and creates her personal definition of happiness to then compare and relate for the use

of the full article and study. “I use the term happiness to refer to the experience of joy,

contentment, or positive well being, combined with a sense that one's life is good, meaningful,

and worthwhile” (Lyubomirsky, 184). This creates a solid foundation for a term that is mainly

relative from person to person, approaching it even with mathematical approach and visual

graphs. She follows up with relating different aspects of the interviewers to debunk popular ideas

about being happy in our modern society. As final evidence for her study, she talks about how

genetics play into overall happiness in one's life, and how environmental triggers can help affect

and change a term she calls your “happiness set point.” Overall, while using strong

knowledgeable and professional diction, she concludes her evidence and argument that although

genetics do play a role, changing behavior and physical/mental space can allow for a positive

influence on how happy you are and why.

As represented in all 3 articles, rhetoric and the art of language is important we speak to one

another. Space can have everlasting effects on the communication that we have with one another

and the way that it can affect ideas and/or thoughts. A genius idea is not important if not shared

and applied with others, and communication is very important in understanding ideas and how

they come across. These 3 authors use a variety of techniques and evidence in order to argue

points involved in happiness. Although communicating different ideas, they all suggested that we

should all transform different aspects of space, and how that will help us live more fulfilling and

meaningful lives.

Work Cited

Brooks, David. “What Suffering Does.” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew Parfitt and

Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martins, 2016, pp.284-287

Hill, Graham. “Living with Less. A lot Less.” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew Parfitt and

Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martins, 2016, pp. 308-313

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. “How Happy are you and Why?” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew

Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martins, 2016, pp. 179-197.

Sherman, Jeremy E. “The Secret to Happiness and Compassion: Low Expectations.” ​Psychology

Today​, Sussex Publishers, 2014,



Picicci, Jen. “How Expectations Undermine Our Relationships & Happiness.” ​Tiny Buddha,​ 13

Jan. 2016, tinybuddha.com/blog/how-expectations-undermine-our-relationships-and-happiness/.

Bemer, Amanda Nicold Metz, "The Rhetoric of Space in the Design of Academic Writing

Locations" (2010). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 752.


Work Cited

Mountford, Roxanne. “On Gender and Rhetorical Space.” ​Rhetoric Society Quarterly​, vol. 31,

no. 1, 2001, pp. 41–71. ​JSTOR​, JSTOR, ​www.jstor.org/stable/3886401​.

Matajc, V. Neohelicon (2014) 41: 3. ​https://doi.org/10.1007/s11059-013-0217-6