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II. Đề thi IELTS READING: What Makes Us Happy? (thi ngày 25/02/2023)
Do you seriously want to be happy? Of course, you do! But what does it take to be happy? Many psychologists are now using scientific methods to try to understand the nature and origins of happiness. Their results may surprise you.
Surprisingly, happiness has been shown to be a constitutional trait. The study of diﬀerent types of twins; identical and non-identical, has enabled scientists to calculate that 50-60% of self-identified happiness – and what other sort is there? – is down to genes. Of course, there is no one specific gene that determines happiness, but a great many and they tend to overlap with the genes that determine personality. People who are emotionally stable, sociable and conscientious, tend to be happier according to the research.
Now, many people believe that money makes us happy. However, there is no clear relationship between wealth and happiness. Once out of poverty, increases in wealth do not automatically turn into relative increases in happiness. For example, winning the lottery may give a rush of joy and excitement but does not ensure long-term contentment. In fact, studies have shown that lottery winners take less pleasure in everyday events following their win. It seems that they soon get habituated to their money, while at the same time they have distanced themselves from their former lives and identities by leaving jobs, friends and lifestyle.
Nor does a steady increase in income make for greater happiness. The more we have, the more we seem to want, so we are always stuck at the same level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. The perception of wealth is a relative thing: we are discontented when those who we compare ourselves with are better off than ourselves. This goes some way to explain why, in most Western countries, average incomes have increased considerably but without any increase in the average levels of happiness.
If wealth does not bring happiness, what about spending it? There is no doubt that shopping gives us a short-lived burst of pleasure – but very little more than that. The only type of shopping that might provide longer-term happiness is when we buy things for other people.
Nor does happiness does not come in liquid or tablet form. A couple of drinks at a party may lighten our mood and be good for us medically and mentally, but alcohol abuse destroys our body, mind and relationships. Similarly, drugs like cocaine and ecstasy give brief bursts of joy but there is a massive price to be paid when the high is over.
So, what can we do to improve our sense of well-being? First, we need to realise that we are not passive victims of external events. We can and should take control of our life to make it rewarding and satisfying. We should adopt a positive attitude, and overcome feelings of worthlessness and build our own self-confidence and self-esteem.
We should try to reduce the burden of unnecessary worry. If there is something that can be done about a problem we are worrying about then we should do it, and stop worrying. And of course, there is no point in worrying about things we can’t change. A sense of humour is good protection against adversity and a strong antidote to depression. One of the key symptoms of depression is the loss of the ability to laugh.
A key feature of happy and contented people is that they have a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Rather than just drifting through life, they have a clear set of values and goals that they are trying to achieve. This could be associated with faith, humanitarianism and family values, artistic or scientific aspirations and career ambitions. All these things provide a sense of identity as well as something to work towards or look forward to.
Happiness is a positive by-product of keeping active. But not just being busy, we need to be doing things that raise self-esteem and bring us satisfaction; controlling our own schedule and prioritising activities that satisfy our own needs. And saying ‘no’ to other people if necessary. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to be selfish. Being active members of the community or volunteering for a charity or helping your family can all create happiness – particularly for older people.
So, should we actively pursue happiness? Curiously, the happiest people seem to be those who do not actively see it – indeed the ‘pursuit of happiness’ may be counterproductive. To a large extent, happiness emerges as a by-product of who we are and what we do. Conversely, people who focus on making others happy usually make themselves happy in the process.
Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.
1. The main topic discussed in the text is:
A. the danger of worrying about things beyond our control
B. the diﬀicult task of identifying what makes us happy
C. key indicators of depression
D. activities which can make us happy
2. A study of different types of twins suggests
A. happiness is mostly a genetic trait.
B. ‘happiness’ and ‘personality’ are not related.
C. identical twins are more emotional than non-identical twins.
D. scientists are not happy people.
3. According to the text, a steady rise in income
A. increases anyone’s level of happiness.
B. creates a steady decline in happiness.
C. happens frequently in Western cultures.
D. does not necessarily lead to greater happiness.
Complete the sentences below. Choose NO MORE THAN TO WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 4-6 on your answer sheet.
4. Observation of lottery winners suggests that there is no relationship between happiness and………………………..
5. When we compare ourselves to others we discover that the concept of ‘wealth’ is………………………..
6. The types of purchases which are most likely to provide us with happiness are those purchased for……………
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet write:
YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
7. We are all unwilling participants in events beyond our control.
8. A crucial determiner of happiness is starting each day by writing a ‘to-do’ list.
9. ‘Happiness’ has a strong relationship with our actions and attitudes.
Complete the summary using the list of words, A-I, below. Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.
In this article, the author gives us a discussion of ‘happiness’ from a 10 ………………… perspective. The investigation into the influence of money on happiness suggests that the two are not 11…………………. We should be able to say ‘no’ to other people, but this doesn’t require us to be 12………………….. The author concludes that happiness is the 13 ………………… of activity focused on making others happy.
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