Monday, July 4, 2011

What is Happiness?

I guess that there is something about my old philosophy class that sparks a lot of inspiration and thoughts in that adolescent little brain of mine. We had so many conversations about an array of controversial topics. This one was not as much controversial, but it really got me thinking.

If you were to die tomorrow, would you have lived a happy life?

Before evaluating any question, you have to understand what it's asking. In this case, the word "happy" can be taken in many different ways.


 noun \ˈha-pē-nəs\
obsolete : good fortune : prosperity
a : a state of well-being and contentment : joyb : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

According to Merriam-Webster, happiness is generally associated with "pleasure." But in this case, I am asking about a more fulfilled "happiness."Something more like the Greek word eudaemonia, "the state of having a good indwelling spirit, a good genius" or "the highest human good." In fact there is an entire branch of philosophy based on this concept (I might touch on this some other time). I feel that the true happiness that we seek is summed up in the concept of eudaemonia.

This question can be answered in a series of categories: fulfillment, love, appreciation, and acceptance.

Fulfillment: Did you live your life to the fullest? Did you take every opportunity you could and soak up everything you could in life? This concept can best described by one of my favorite quotes from Titanic by Jack Dawson, "I figure life's a gift, and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count." When you're hands are frail and your heart weak, you'll be able to look back at your life. You'll remember that spontaneous trip to Ethiopia, that exhilarating sky-diving adventure. Take every opportunity you can.

Love: I'm a strong believer that love makes the world go round. If you love yourself, love your family, love your friends, and love your fellow man and neighbors, then your life will be so much better! There would be peace in the world and endless community service.

Appreciation: It's when we take things for granted that our lives go astray. It is vital that we understand that our lives are a beautiful gift, and treat it accordingly.

Acceptance: People have to learn to accept their lives. There are some things that cannot be changed, and some time it's vital to let them go. Not to say that people shouldn't change things, change is great, but people need to be at peace with their lives and their choices. Don't live a life of regrets, just accept life and learn from your mistakes.

In essence, I think that fulfillment, love, appreciation, and acceptance are the four keys to leading a happy life. Sure, I'm young, but in my eighteen years of life I think that I have been able to live a pretty happy life. How about you, what makes a happy life?



  1. I'm not sure, but I think you're pretty close to pinpointing the elements involved in happiness. Very insightful post! Way more in depth than anything I would have come up with at 18 years old. I think all to often we as human's seek the external and what we "get" rather than seeking to "put in" to life to reap it's rewards. I'm certainly guilty of seeking pleasure over inner peace, but little by little learning what carries more weight.

  2. Thanks, I think it's my philosophy class that did it. But I always like to think about these sort of things.

    But at the same time, some pleasures bring inner piece. It's not all black and white.