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Eduardo Ojeda

Professor Beadle

English 115

30 September 2019

Project Space Essay

How do we achieve happiness? The articles written by David Brooks, Graham Hill, and

Sonja Lyubomirsky all cover the topic of happiness, albeit in their own ways. Each of the articles

discussed use examples of ethos, pathos, and logos to support their argument. David Brooks

makes his argument on how suffering helps you become a better person. Graham Hill makes his

argument on how living with less material belongings will make you a happier person. Sonja

Lyubomirsky writes about the experiences people have and how they affect whether you are

happy or not. ​With her use of personal interviews, data, and scientific studies to support her

claim, Lyubomirsky’s article presents the most effective use of rhetoric to present her argument.

“How Happy Are You and Why?”, by Sonja Lyubomirsky talks about the experiences

people have had and how they affect whether you are happy or not. Lyubomirsky interviews

people about their life and asks them about their happiness. She talks about Angela who in her

words is, “one of the happiest people that I ever interviewed. You wouldn’t guess it, however

from all she’s had to bear.” (Lyubomirsky 180). She also talks about Shannon who, “ never

seem(s) to be happy, even during the good times”(Lyubomirsky 181). Lyubomirsky uses these

two polar opposites to make her point that even though you may have had a bad life you can be

happy, or in contrast you can have a great life but not be happy. This example of pathos greatly

contributes to her argument from first hand experience. ​It gives the audience a sense of
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relatability and hopefulness, in the fact that they themselves can be happy regardless of their

circumstances. ​Lyubomirsky often refers to charts or graphs to portray statistics on happiness.

One bar graph that was referred to shows happiness scores by generation, and shows how

happiness increases about three to five percent every generation (Lyubomirsky 187). This bar

graph shows that there is a correlation between certain age groups and happiness. This example

of logos provides the reader with additional information on her claim. Lyubomirsky refers to

numerous amounts of studies in this article. One of which is, “The Happiness Twins study,

(which) was carried out by behavior geneticists David Lykken, Auke Tellegen, and colleagues at

the University of Minnesota.”(Lyubomirsky 187). The study found that, “the average happiness

of your identical twin is a much more powerful clue to your happiness today than all the facts

and events in your life.” (Lyubomirsky 189). The Happiness Twin study benefits Lyubomirsky’s

claims that experiences don’t have much to affect your overall happiness levels. ​The study itself

presents the audience with a sense of confirmation that what they are reading is correct and is

supported by scientific research.​ The studies conducted by these professionals in their respective

fields ​adds to the credibility of Lyubomirsky’s article and supports her argument.

“What Suffering Does”, by David Brooks talks about the struggles a person goes through

and the lasting impact it has on you. Brooks touches on the historical significance of struggling

and he shares the same sentiment that theologian Paul Tillich wrote about how, “people who

endure suffering are taken beneath the routines of life and find they are not who they believed

themselves to be” (Brooks 285). He uses this quote to emphasize the need for struggle and how

gravely it impacts a person. Brooks’ example of ethos provides insight from a reputable source,

but he only uses this quote to further repeat what he was talking about earlier in his article. In
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comparison, in Lyubomirsky’s use of ethos she refers to behavior geneticists who spent a

numerous amount of hours focusing on their study. Her use of this study is a stronger example

than that of Brooks because a study conducted by a number of scientists holds more credibility

than the words of a theologian. Brooks speaks on the desire for happiness and how it has become

a popular subject of interest amongst the population. He specifically mentions that in the, “three

month period last year, more than 1,000 books were released on Amazon on that subject”

(Brooks 284). The quote refers to the overwhelming amount of people who are aiming for

happiness, where Brooks may argue that suffering not happiness shapes a person. Although this

number of books seems like solid evidence on its own, it lacks to add anything new to Brooks’

argument that he has not said already. ​Brooks’ use of logical argument throughout his article

served the purpose of getting his point across, but it more so rambled on about his definition of

suffering and his personal experiences. ​In contrast, Lyubomirksy’s use of logos with her use of

statistical data provides a correlation to her article and provides a better argument than Brooks’​.

Brooks speaks on the emotional side of suffering and the consequences of it. He talks about the

consequences of suffering and how, “many people don’t come out healed; they come out

different.” (Brooks 287). Brooks uses this quote to show that although suffering can emotionally

hurt you, it can transform you into a different person. Although this quote holds emotional value

it lacks any real contribution to his article. ​Brooks merely discusses emotion rather than evoking

emotion. ​By comparison, Lyubomirsky’s use of pathos takes a personal approach and

specifically targets the topic of whether happiness depends on our experiences.

“Living With Less. A Lot Less.”, by Graham Hill talks about how focusing less on

materialistic items can make you a happier person. Hill uses his own personal experience to talk
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about the consequences of his luxurious lifestyle. He writes about the impact of his materialistic

belongings, “ Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed

ended up consuming me.” (Hill 308). In this quote, Hill shows that although he enjoyed these

material things they greatly overwhelmed him. ​Hill’s use of pathos provided reputable insight on

his experience as a materialistic person and the struggles the average person has with

consumerism​. ​But, his argument may not apply to everyone who encounters the same problem

with material belongings.​ In contrast, Lyubomirsky’s use of interviews seemed to have a direct

correlation to her thesis. In the interviews she conducted, she found that having a bad life and

being happy were directly correlated and vice versa. Hill touches on the ecological impact of

material goods, and how the “melting glaciers and Arctic Sea ice, are primarily driven by human

activity.” (Hill 310). He uses this as a way to convince us of the dangers of the growth of

materialism in the world. ​This fact which is backed up by scientific research serves as a sense of

credibility towards his argument. ​His example of ethos provides us with an alarming fact, but it

has no correlation to his argument. The melting glaciers in the Arctic Sea have nothing to do

with Hill’s argument of the less material objects you have correlating to being happier. It is not

beneficial to his argument and is merely straying away from his point. Hill speaks on the

scientific aspect of too many materialistic items. He refers to the claim that, “Northwestern

University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen linked consumption with aberrant, antisocial

behavior.” (Hill 311). This claim supports his argument that the more materialistic things you

have, the less happy you are. Although this example of ethos provides credibility to his

argument, is the antisocial behavior directly correlated to increased consumption or possibly

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another problem? In comparison, Lyubomirsky’s reference to the Twins Happiness Study seems

to have a direct correlation within each case of twins with the exact same result.

The articles written by Brooks, Hill, and Lyubomirsky all use ethos, pathos, and logos.

They use these three forms well, although Lyubomirsky uses all three forms to support her

arguments best. For Ethos, she uses the example of the Happiness Twin study to further add on

to her argument, whereas Brooks’ use of Ethos with Paul Tillich is repetitive and does not further

add on to his argument. In Lyubomirsky’s article her use of Pathos with the interviews of people

helps her claim that it does not matter what you have gone through to be happy. This use of

Pathos is superior to the other authors’ use of Pathos because of its contribution to the overall

theme. Lyubomirksy’s use of Logos with her several graphs and studies, is far more helpful to

her argument than Hill and Brooks because of the information which correlates to happiness. In

conclusion Lyubomirsky’s article, “ How Happy Are You and Why” best uses ethos, pathos, and

logos to support her claim.

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Works Cited

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

Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp. 284-287.

Hill, Graham. “Living With Less. A Lot Less.” ​Pursuing Happiness,​ edited by Matthew Parfett

and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp. 308-313.

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. “How Happy Are You and Why?” ​Pursuing Happiness​, edited by Matthew

Parfett and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp. 179-197.