Zen and Happiness: Scientific Research on their Relationship
30 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2019
Date Written: October 15, 2016
Aspects of Zen most readily evaluated by psychology are explored. The purpose is to stimulate research on lifestyle components of Zen and explain Zen happiness (ZH) in ways that may be tested. The conclusions of research on savoring, gratitude, exercise, social support, compassion/altruism, flow, Nature-connectedness, purpose/meaning, and virtue (including Seligman’s Signature Strengths) are explored in depth. In addition, research on the effects of zazen (Zen meditation) is reviewed because it is pertinent to happiness and ZH and is one of the most commonly-practiced facets of Zen in the West. Findings of the most-replicated psychology research are mostly consistent with Zen doctrine. However, Zen is not a complete formula for the attainment of happiness as conceptualized by most psychology research. A critique of Zen from the perspective of “mainstream” psychology is provided. Empirical investigation of the effects of each secular component of Zen teaching, especially conduct prescriptions, on happiness and ZH are warranted. Experimental designs and controls are outlined.
Keywords: humanistic psychology, happiness research, Zen lifestyle, Gross National Happiness, positive psychology
JEL Classification: A14, I1, B12, B31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation