What Is Happiness?

Here’s a thought for you, What IS happiness?

Merriam-Websters says:

1  obsolete : good fortune : prosperity

2  a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy

    b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
Hmmm that is not very helpful. Lets see what contentment means, back to Merriam-Websters : the quality or state of being contented, that wasn’t too helpful. Contented, it says, is : feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. This is getting circular. Okay, satisfaction is supposed to mean

1  a : the payment through penance of the temporal punishment incurred by a sin

   b : reparation for sin that meets the demands of divine justice
2 a : fulfillment of a need or want
   b : the quality or state of being satisfied : contentment
   c : a source or means of enjoyment : gratification
3 a : compensation for a loss or injury : atonement, restitution
   b : the discharge of a legal obligation or claim
   c : vindication
4   : convinced assurance or certainty <proved to the satisfaction of the court>

Okay, but what if you have no needs or wants? What if you fulfill them as soon as they occur? How can one be satisfied thus contented, thus happy if you have no needs or wants? It would appear that the struggles of life are necessary for happiness. How then do you find that in heaven?

I think it’s time to redefine some words. Not for the dictionaries per se, but lets try doing so for ourselves. Let us consider what we feel when we are happy. The word elation or joy seems a good way to describe it. There are some neuroscience thoughts on elation and spirituality and contentedness and joy: the story of Jill Bolte-Taylor’s brain hemorrhage is a good read.

It would appear that these basal emotions are based in the brain and not the spirit – whatever that might be if we have one. So it is fair to hypothesize that some situations or conditions set the stage for the chemical state(s) in our brains which allow us to experience these emotions. They can be different for everyone to some degree or another. You can have more than  you need and be unhappy, and not have anything you want but still be happy.

So really, it’s time we defined such words in terms of self. While you might think they already were, those definitions were rigged against common sense or understanding of such. I firmly hold that was is true for the best of us must also be true for the least of us. So is a pet’s happiness less worthy of attainment than our own? Is the happiness or joy of an autistic person of less value than our own? Is the hunger of a starving child less important than me missing a meal?

Happiness is a state of mind, regardless of physical conditions or situations. A moment of happiness is like a beautiful sunset – precious to the observer, fleeting, likely never to be repeated in quite the same way in a single lifetime. Happiness is subjective, not some objective state that can be given to you be a deity. Contentment is a subjective state of mind, not an objective state which can be given to you. The key here is state of mind. It happens in your mind, because of your mind. Without your mind such things cannot happen. The promise of eternal happiness and contentment is a lie. Your ability to experience these things dies when your brain stops working… at death.

UPDATE: I almost forgot the original thought: It’s okay to say that you find it difficult to be happy/content when this or that happens or when some person is not happy but you’ve got it all wrong if you say you can’t be happy unless this or that situation happens or some other person is happy. When you pin your happiness on something other than yourself – well, sister, you’re doing it all wrong. I don’t need a god to be happy. Think about that for a minute. Yes, what I’ve said gels with depression as a chemical problem and how some people just never seem to be happy, and why some people always seem to be happy. There is no god needed for happiness.

There you have it. Happiness is what you want it to be, or rather what makes your brain feel it. It has no objective meaning. Neither do joy or elation or contentment or ….. well, you get the picture. So what makes you happy? What do you do to make others happy? Anything?

Why not leave a comment to let us know.

UPDATE: (number 2) Sophie at dailyhealthboost.com reminded me to say that what I’m saying here completely gels with stress. She mentions so in her ‘about me’ blurb. Awesome.


  1. A simple smile.


    • Even complex smiles are good

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: