Inside Happiness Groups: Everyday Happiness, Self-Awareness, and Resistance

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This article offers a phenomenological examination of happiness through ethnographies in self-help groups for happiness (happiness groups). The ethnographies reveal three major happiness scenarios—increasing self-awareness, eliminating self-awareness, and the art of not being yourself—with the increasing self-awareness scenario revealed as the most prevalent of the three. The findings describe the toolkit accompanying each of the happiness scenarios (main discourses, self-concepts, definitions, characteristics of happiness, and practices for attaining happiness). The common features of the three happiness scenarios—a unique engagement in self-awareness and types of happiness—are discussed. Similarly discussed is the degree of correspondence between the participants’ resistance and recent findings regarding the dark side of happiness and the conditions by which the pursuit of happiness may lead to other, possibly undesirable results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-563
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • class
  • happiness
  • happiness scenarios
  • self-awareness
  • self-help groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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