Please define happiness!

When searching for life as in this series of articles it’d be a good idea to know what life is. A major aspect is happiness. But what is happiness? I hereby invite you to share your definitions in the comments, and will give my own:

Happiness is that flavor of emotional well-being that is triggered at least by a perceived congruence of ones current situation and ones desired situation.

When assuming this definition, it leads to the following conclusions which (in my view) hold true in practice:

  • As an emotion, happiness is susceptible to deception: when the deception is erroneous, it can arise without reason or be missing though there is reason.
  • Happiness might be triggered by other things, but to define what kind of emotion is meant one trigger is mentioned in the definition.
  • Happiness is nothing one can obtain once and for all, but must be maintained moment by moment.
  • Happiness might be produced by changing ones situation, ones desires or ones perception of a situation.
  • Sorrows kill happiness.
  • Constant unhappiness is the average case. Because the “hedonic treadmill” means that ones desires for the situation tend to change constantly so that they are in the average case “ahead” of the current situation.
  • Constant happiness is only possible where one perceives a (basic) congruence between reality and wishes in every situation, i.e. basically wish to have the situation one is in, whatever it may be.
  • Faith can produce constant happiness. Because, believing that a beneficient higher instance (“god”) planned the current situation for one’s best makes it possible to desire exactly the current situation. Whatever it may be: the higher instance knows more than humans, wherefore it can be trusted that every current situation is good. In the case of a false faith, this happiness lasts until one finds out this falsity. In the case of a true faith (assuming here that there is one), this happiness is everlasting.

Start date: 2007-08-29

Version date: 2007-08-31 (for last meaningful change)







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