ABSTRACT The self becomes context sensitive in service of the need to belong. When it comes to achieving personal happiness, an identity system that derives its worth and meaning excessively from its social context puts itself in a significantly disadvantageous position. This article integrates empirical findings and ideas from the self, subjective well-being, and cross-cultural literature and tries to offer insights to why East Asian cultural members report surprisingly low levels of happiness. The various cognitive, motivational, behavioral, and affective characteristics of the overly relation-oriented self are discussed as potential explanations. Implications for the study of self and culture are offered.