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What is happiness? Is it an important human value or just overrated? Many readily sacrifice it for sufficiency and contentment. Is this ok?

The pursuit and right of attainment of happiness was considered so important, it was enshrined in the US constitution. For a goal so central to human existence, we ought to be able to define what happiness means, and delineate steps for reaching it. One problem for reaching such consensus is our sheer differences and the way we see things. The maxim that the World is driven not by reality but perception is especially true about how different cultures around the World see and obtain happiness. Visit a village in Sub-Sahara Africa and witness the sheer contentment and blissful existence of people with apparently - from the perspective of the Westerner - nothing to be happy or joyful about. How could this be when most of us with apparently much more gets aggravated, depressed and suicidal for not having more? Yes, we could say it is because we want more fulfillment than the Tuareg but is this necessarily true? Besides, why hold on to a paradigm or attitude that results in the loss of the very objective of our pursuit? Is it all perception and attitudinal? If so, is there something to learn from pastoral and indigenous people? When does the perception of feeling ok become self-delusional? Who decides, and with what metrics? If happiness boils down to mere attitudes about ourselves in a social universe, what does that say about the value of happiness?

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    Jun 16 2012: I think the pursuit of a purely blissful life without sadness is fruitless and illusory.

    Real happiness involves our capacity to embrace the inevitability of sadness - to accept it as part of what happiness is as a whole. It is the sad times that make the contrasting happier times feel more 'blissful'.
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      Jun 27 2012: Dear Musk, I think it is like the heirarchy of needs. You have to get some things in place for happiness to find a nest. Paradoxically, i think it requires being prepared for some unhappiness to get to the best bits. For example, on a hike there will be hills and climbs to get to any great view. Those mountain top experiences can be very sustaining.
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    Jun 16 2012: I think people have the right to make a effort to reach happiness no matter how they see it, but sometimes people let their want for happiness override the important things in life that they should be happy about and greateful for.
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    Jun 18 2012: from last to first...
    no it is not ok for me. If I sacrifice something in return of anything else its'not happiness, just adjustment. so in this case if you give away your happines for sufficiency or contentment you must be fooling yourself.

    yes it is overrated. actually the image of hapiiness is overrated. having a house with a pool, pretty wife and two healthy kids while driving a suv and 5figure salary, going to vacations abroad. this is an overrated cliche.

    for me true happines is the gut feeling that you experience when you make somebodyelse happy.
  • Jun 16 2012: Wow! That is a lot of questions. I will try to answer your main question, I believe happiness is attainable however the western worlds idea of what makes us happy in today's world appears completely skewed. I think the goal of happiness differs from individual to individual and the reason most do not find it is what people think will make them happy is unattainable or isn't what will make them happy.

    In my opinion happiness is something that has come through time, moments of depression and negative experiences has made me more grateful for where I am now. I feel I have all I need to be happy and for the most part I am. ( obviously I cannot say I am 100% happy I feel it is very difficult to obtaine, even more so when in such a society where you are constantly subjected to messages that tell you you are not happy and wont be until you purchase the newest phone, etc ) I think human happiness naturally stems from love, family companions lovers animals and that western focus has shifted from this to material need.

    It is an important emotion to hold, however to acquire constant happiness is something I couldn't perceive but I wouldn't discount it.