Definition of Happiness
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.
Various research groups, including Positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what “happiness” is, and how we might attain it.
Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. Happiness in this sense was used to translate the Greek Eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics.
Happiness economics suggests that measures of public happiness should be used to supplement more traditional economic measures when evaluating the success of public policy.
Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components.
Money doesn’t buy much happiness unless it’s used in certain ways. “Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money – even a lot more money – makes them only a little bit happier.” However we can sometimes get more happiness bang for our buck by spending it in prosocial ways. A Harvard Business School study found that “spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves”.
There are various factors that have been correlated with happiness, but no validated method has been found to substantially improve longterm happiness in a meaningful way for most people.
Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology’s correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have
- Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.),
- Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging ac-tivity),
- Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indi-cator of happiness),
- Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
- Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).
Sociologists define happiness as the degree to which person evaluates the overall quality of his present life as a whole positively. In other words how much a person likes life he or she leads.
By happiness I mean here a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind. This is not a mere pleasurable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood but an optimal state of being. Many people will talk about shortterm happiness like a birth of a child, or an exam they have aced, or a sporting victory etc. The common factor of all these short-term experiences would seem to be the momentary disappearance of inner conflicts. The person feels in harmony with the world and the self.
Real happiness is the state of lasting wellbeing that manifests itself when we have freed ourselves of mental blindness and afflictive emotions. It is also the wisdom that allows us to see the world as it is, without veils or distortions. It is finally the joy of moving toward inner freedom and the loving kindness that ra- diates towards others. Ignorance is an inability to recognize the true nature of things and of the law of cause and effect that governs happiness and suffering.