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Is happiness internal or external?

Can happiness be influence by your external circumstances or is happiness internal? If happiness is internal, where is it's location? How or can happiness be influenced, externally or is the influence strictly internal?

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    Aug 11 2013: 'O seekers of happiness, how unhappy you all are!'
    This is a quote from an ancient Indian sage named Jabali. I would love to tell you a story of Jabali.
    In ancient Indian myhs, it was said that a sage by pure pursuit of spiritual knowledge and ascetic sacrifice of humanly pleasures could conquer heavens. Jabali was a sage with a difference. He was a married man who lived in a small hut in a jungle away from great cities, kings and other sages. He did no rituals, no hymns, no benedictions of the monarchs - he lived a simple and quiet life. But his spiritual height reached heavens and gods were threatened. So they conspired to plot against him.
    One day the gods sent Urvashi, the heavenly entertainer to meet him. Urvashi tried to impress him by her feminine beauty and appeal.
    'Enjoy it, O mighty sage, because it is only through satisfying your senses you can be happy.' Urvashi said.
    'What am I supposed to enjoy?' asked Jabali.
    'This' said Urvashi and danced lustfully.
    'Ok, take me to the heavens and show me your feminine beauty.' Jabali said.
    So in the heavens a grand strip-tease was arranged where Urvashi danced. When she started taking of her robes, other sages covered their eyes and exclaimed, "stop it, it is lustful!' But Jabali sat unmoved encouraging Urvashi to go on.
    At last, with the music in a crescendo, Urvashi took off her last piece of cloth and stood naked n front of him.
    'Well, take that off please'. Jabali insisted.
    There is nothing more to take of they said. But there is. There is that white as alabaster, gleaming thing on her, take that off.
    'O mighty sage, that's skin!' lamented the gods.
    But where is that feminine beauty then? Beneath that skin? Beneath that muscle, bone? Where?
    Jabali left heavens saying : If I have it, I have it. If not, its not there in your skin.
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    Aug 21 2013: I think happiness starts internally as self-acceptance. If you accept and like who you are, then what happens in your external world gets put into proper perspective. External influences will affect how happy you feel superficially and temporarily, but if the baseline of self-acceptance is strong, then so too will be how permanently happy you feel.

    If on the other hand I hate myself and loathe everything I do and stand for, then the external influences become massively more important and would affect me deeply. The highs might just be ok, but the lows would become devastatingly destructive and would perhaps lead to depression. And all this would be because I had a weak foundation of self-worth.
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      Aug 22 2013: Still, this would involve a comparative introspection, influence by outside elements. The influence of the outside environment cannot be discounted.
  • Aug 13 2013: It may well be that happiness results from the flow of certain chemical neurotransmitters in the brain but what if thought can induce those chemicals to flow? I believe I can strongly influence my mood by the thoughts that I consciously think, It seems to me that I can "make myself happy" by thinking appropriate thoughts.
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    Aug 22 2013: i like the fact that you asked this question. but i believe thet happiness is internal because we are individually made we have individual and personal or inytrinsic beliefs on what makes us happy. the situations we go through in ife show us our "happiness arouser" or our beliefs as to what our own happiness is and insists of.
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    Aug 22 2013: Back in July there was a conversation on “paradise”, that I believe has some ideas in common with this topic. www.ted.com/conversations/19133/paradise_at_last.html

    One reply I had I believe is most fitting to this topic.
    I posted:
    That depends on how you define paradise.
    If you consider paradise as a place with “only” peace, prosperity and happiness; then no I did not reach paradise state of mind.
    I am at peace with hardships, seeing them as lessons and not punishments or pass/fail tests.
    I do find happiness, but it is not a perpetual state of mind. It’s like running a marathon: yes there is joy in doing it and finishing, but there is also going to be sweat and sore muscles. And without the sweat and sore muscles, the joy will not be as sweet.

    We are all on our own unique path and my path has been too long a twisted sate, "plus I don’t think it would recommend it ether. ;) " I will recommend viewing hardships as lessons, for we are here to experience and learn from things we can’t experience and thus learn in heaven. Viewing hardships as puzzles has really taken my spirit to a new level.

    LOL, I feel like I should be returning to a mountain top cave for meditation, instead of my plan old ordinary life. ;)
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      Aug 22 2013: How we define something often determines how we will experience it...I agree with you on that Don.

      I also feel content and at peace with challenges, because I know I am open to learning in every single moment.

      It feels, to me, like happiness is more fleeting...as you say..."not a perpetual state of mind". There is probably going to be sweet and sour when it comes to experiencing happiness.

      It is the underlying feeling of peace, harmony, balance and contentment that I feel is the foundation. You say experiencing and learning while viewing hardships as puzzles. I say discovering and moving through challenges with curiosity. It feels like the same process...different terms?
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    Aug 22 2013: Happiness is a state of mind,
    which lies within,
    unaffected by external factors.
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      Aug 22 2013: I think the state of mind is some reflection of the outside world. If the outside world doesn't exist, your happiness will disappear.
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        Aug 22 2013: Those who depend on external factors to be happy , never find happiness.
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          Aug 22 2013: If a joyless person spends time with a happy person(s), they may come to inherent some joy from the relationship.

          Perhaps we are born with a predilection for happiness.
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          Aug 22 2013: Why?I think a person can depend on something external he likes to make it into a hobby ,which makes themselves happy. For example: music, painting..... You can depend on them forever and get the feeling of success(one kind of happiness) if you can make great achievements in it.Even if you don't make any success in it, you still can get fun that makes you feel happy.
        • Aug 22 2013: Whenever I get gloomy and think there’s no way I can feel good about myself, I watch Conan O’brien on Youtube. And strangely, somehow I feel refreshed and “happy”.
          And during the day, I laugh more often than usual because of the stuffs he said on the videos keep popping up in my head.
          Even not knowing how to organize my thoughts, I move on no matter what because, as far as I’m concerned, the more I appreciate little things given in my life, the more I feel good and however shallow it is, I become happy anyway.

          Rather than seriously pondering about what would be the core of being happy, just letting myself be vulnerable and simply take pleasure in what I’m doing is enough—at least for me.

          I don’t think I never found happiness.
          Rather, in retrospect, I could have missed the chances to appreciate ‘happy moments’ in my life with too much thoughts and reflection.
      • Aug 22 2013: "If the outside world doesn't exist, your happiness will disappear."

        Yes......................eventually it would disappear..........I think. Hmm
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          Aug 22 2013: Yes.I think after death, people will lose the impact from the external and their hearts will stop feeling everything in this world. :)
    • Aug 22 2013: You say happiness is a state of mind, unaffected by external factors (invariably).
      A person’s mind is always affected by something.
      Even the way you define “happiness”, that is, your point of view, is influenced by something—say, some book, philosophy, religion, parents, movies, life experiences, etc.
      If someone you love dies, I bet you can’t help being sad unless you’re some sort of, as we call, “robot” or something. Can you still claim that the state of your mind—being sad not affected by external factors?

      You can still insist on the idea that even being sad can be part of being happy, but in order to do that, you’ve got to persuade me more than just a sentence.
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        Aug 22 2013: One can train to be happy all the time and in all circumstances. Believe me you can achieve this state of mind if not all the time but most of the time ... no mean achievement.

        I will recomend to ypu

        Practice Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga

        "Happiness No matter what " by Richard Carlson , read this book
  • Aug 21 2013: Paramahansa Yogananda said: "Wanting is pain"
    The "twin verses" point out one of the laws of nature which is for every force there is an opposite and equal force.
    Latter on Newton developed The same laws for motion. Karma is an example. You can think of happiness as a force or the absence of a force, the ying and the yang. I think happiness is the state of being continent and that state of course being inside my mind.

    "Nothing exists outside the mind for it is the mind that makes it so"- Keith W Henline

    Update: I am not sure why but I was inspired to listen once again to a rare interview with the 14th Dalai Lama in which he also says contentment is the key to happiness. He also disagrees with Daniel Kahneman's finding that rich people ($60,000+/year) are happier than poor people. He explains that the more you have, the more you have to lose. As Bob Dylan would say: "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose".

    Gandhi never had nothing, Mandela never had nothing, Jesus never had nothing, Einstein never had nothing, Tesla never had nothing, Buddha never had nothing, Dalai Lama has nothing and I have nothing even thou any of us could have accumulated wealth beyond reason. I would say I am in good company.
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      Aug 22 2013: Keith- I like your chip. I have an Xll myself:)

      I agree with you about contentment being a measure of happiness. In the Dan Gilbert talk there seems to be an implication that acceptance is a big key to happiness. I wonder if part of the reason that people making less than 60k a year in the U.S. are less content- is because of comparing with others and the belief in an opportunity for more. I think for emotional well being you may be better off in a country where being low income isn't something you are expected to overcome and therefore you can have greater levels of acceptance. Of course logic would say that the opportunity for increase in wealth would make us happy, but it can hinder acceptance.
      • Aug 22 2013: I hope you read my welcome to Maher below it pretty much sums up the reason America is falling apart and way behind the rest of the intelligent world. Intelligence is the "new gold standard" and until we start investing in it we are doomed to failure. The world is racing at quantum speeds and America is putting along literally in machines that have not changed in one hundred years. Those machines include education, health, transportation, energy and host of other things all built hundreds of years ago and have not changed. Our intelligent species are already planning to exit the planet and the ones that want to remain here are figuring out how to separate themselves from the idiots with guns, either above ground, underground or at sea. You may like my new website called www.Quantumrocks.com I just bought the domain today and within a month I will have the main structure as it is revealed to me. The name came to me in my sleep as I dreamt about making superfoods into juice and freezing them in ice cubes to be blended into fresh fruit smoothies.
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          Aug 22 2013: America has capitalized on the gains made through our social systems and accomplished greater things than other nations. I'd say we are doing fine and moving in the right direction. Take America out of the mix and I think the world would collapse into chaos until another system is found, similar to ours, that the world can form around and reestablish a similar ordering.

          You are incorrect in your assumption.
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          Aug 22 2013: This is off topic-I read about your belief that women needed to become better educated about nutrition and implement it. I actually think that the better candidate may be men! In American society we haven't removed many of the home-making responsibilities of women even though they work full-time. Child rearing, family gathering, large portions of cleaning and cooking are still largely (not in all cases) left to women. I think women might just be maxed out on time and ability to implement changes like that- now if the male in a household took interest in providing good nutrition for the family- that would lessen the burden for mothers. That is just my two cents.
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    Aug 21 2013: I liked Allan and Johnny replies, I think happiness is "Truly accepting and enjoying internally what is externally"
    • Aug 21 2013: I love your hat

      When I first encountered the monks of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery in the early 80's they were already deeply involved in using computers to enhance there communication capabilities and advance there knowledge. I have been watching Dubai in the same way take advantage of the new technology and there progressive governing systems which are light years ahead of the rest of the world. The rest of the world is bogged down in debt to an outdated and inefficient reality stuck in a system of Greed.

      Like the monks, I am so glad when I see any progress by any portion of our population that is breaking away from the old system and building a new world with every tool available to them. Bravo Maher Shirah, for you are indeed a prince among men in more than one way.
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    Aug 16 2013: Hi Teresa,

    It is an interesting statement, turned question that you are making. You make the following assumptions:
    1. that there is something called happiness, and we all know what you mean
    2. that this so called happiness can be externally or internally located/derived.
    3. that it can somehow be manipulated, influenced etc.

    Please forgive me but I must be true to myself and mean no disrespect.

    Do we really know what happiness is? Or is it that we label a momentary egotistical experience as happiness, and seek to find the cause so it can be available to us on demand, like all other capitalist consumer goods?
    Or do you mean that we are talking about pleasure here?

    If happiness is a destination, what is the point of departure? Surely it cannot be happiness.. so what is it? dissatisfaction, translating as un-happiness? If it is desired, it means we do not have it this moment, it is absent. And to want, something we don't have, as a means of achieving psychological completion/integrity/satisfaction may be our downfall...for as long as we seek psychological homeostasis through desire and want, we are cursed to be living in want, an endless and sad existence, as we believe never to be complete as we are, forever in want, seeking and not finding...forever hungry and thirsty, seeking for the answer in all the wrong places...and others benefiting from your struggle...selling you books, songs, goods, telling you to keep searching

    Is happiness comparing myself with others worse off? Is happiness getting a promotion? All these experiences are short lived, they are momentarily pleasurable, and we are back to un-happiness. And the circus goes on....

    True happiness has nothing to do with seeking anything, any form of seeking in itself results in unhappiness as you depart from your natural state, inviting discontentment.

    Gratitude could be the door to true happiness....being grateful for what there is available this moment...and enjoy it this moment....all else is deception
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      Aug 22 2013: Perhaps I may be of help.

      Experiencing a sense of happiness is similar to learning the distinction between sweet and unsweetened.

      Gratitude may offer a means to gain continued states of happiness but it is hardly the doorway. We could also be grateful that the future may hold events of happiness that extend well beyond this moment.

      Being immersed within the confines of a circus can sometimes make a person experience a sense of happiness. I guess it might be different if it were a circus gone amok.

      It has been my experience that those people who don't know the difference between being happy vs. unhappy are usually unhappy with their lot. It's the ignorance of the distinction between the two states of being that bring them to experience unhappiness in the moment. The real problem lying at the root of their discontent is the fact they don't know the difference and thereby substituted confusion in their moment of consideration. They deceive themselves.
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    Aug 15 2013: Happiness must be present internally for the individual to display it on the outside. Being grateful is a way of staying happy and you should stay in the company of happy persons. Your level of happiness has an effect on your personal and professional life.
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    Aug 12 2013: Undoubtlessly, it's internal. Everything begans and ends into your brain / mindo or whatever you call it. ;-)
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    Aug 9 2013: It's internal which can also be influenced by external stimuli .
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      Aug 12 2013: Sweet and simple Salim, and I agree:>)

      Happiness can be influenced by external circumstances, and as some folks have mentioned in this conversation, can also be influenced by hormones/chemicals released in the body. So, in my perception and experience, the feeling of happiness/contentment is internal.

      "Where is it's location?"
      Since there are several possibilities which influence happiness/contentment including external stimuli, as well as internal chemical reactions in the body, I feel happiness/contentment in every cell of the body, including the brain/mind:>)
  • Aug 22 2013: My concern about the topic: Is happiness internal or external? is to reflect on the visible world and the invisible world.
    From some expériences, I could say that hapiness is pretty much deriving from the external world given we are human beings, and that the good deeds of some goodwill people have absolutely impacts on us positively. And the adverse effects also have negative impacts on us as well.
    On the other hand,the internal aspect of happiness could be effective only when our Inside, I mean from our heart we can yield good and positive thoughts in accordance with the laws of attraction, the smooth motion of the univers.
    Thus , when from our deepest Inside we don't complain about people happiness we are peaceful and happy from our internal metabolism.
    But the most important of our life condition mainly derives from the invisible, from the hidden thoughts, from the internal
    Let us be positive in all instances of our life and cooperate honestly to move the world forward.
  • Aug 22 2013: A person's life is definitely the confluence of external and internal factors with varied proportions in different cases.
    External factors may be controlled to some degree while internal influence may be controlled to much degree.

    Internal factors are like the glass to view the picture.The clean and pleasant glass may even make the dull picture to shine bright while sometimes muddy glass can alone spoil the bright picture.
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    Aug 22 2013: I link happiness to Love, a subjective word but something sourced within. I hope I am never in a really unpleasant situation but I believe with my understanding of what Love is, I can access that state at will and it can cause me to endure things that would drive me mad otherwise.

    I think happiness is definitely sourced within and you can become it at will with an application of discipline, but on the same note; we enjoy experiences of our environmental interaction, and that can bring a lot of pleasure. So I will say that happiness and pleasure are certainly not the same thing but both can inspire the other, compliment each other, but be sure not to depend them on each other.
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      Aug 22 2013: I also link happiness to love Ray. I believe that at any given time, we are coming from a place of love or a place of fear. Love, being the foundation for happiness, contentment, curiosity, joy, humor, compassion, empathy, etc. Fear being the foundation for anxiety, frustration, anger, lack of compassion or empathy, abuse, violence, etc.

      Unconditional love, supports acceptance of both the joyful/happy challenges and those that are not so joyful/happy. I agree...love can support us in the "endurance", or acceptance of some things that might otherwise cause a great deal of pain and suffering, when seen from a different perspective.

      I feel that my happiness/contentment comes from a choice regarding what I choose to focus on at any given time. Do I focus on the fear based feelings/emotions? Or do I focus on the love based feelings emotions? I face and experience ALL feelings/emotions, and focus on love as a foundation.
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    Aug 22 2013: Both;
    A flow of unhappy external events will, drag down internal happiness. No matter how strong it is, and vice versa.
    You can only use denial for so long; you can't live in your head/thoughts consistently.
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      Aug 22 2013: Hi Don,
      Based on my own experiences, I do not agree that a flow of unhappy events will drag down internal happiness no matter how strong it is. I don't see "denial" of anything as a way to experience happiness or contentment.

      23 years ago, my mother and father died, I was ending 24 years of marriage, diagnosed with cancer and sustained a near fatal head injury....all within a short period of time. I see this as a "flow" of challenging external events.

      There certainly were times of feeling ALL emotions, including unhappiness, confusion, frustration, etc., all of which are fear based. Part of my "foundation" for life however, is curiosity, acceptance and unconditional love. So, interspersed with the fear based feelings/emotions, I also recognized the love that was extended to me by so many wonderful people. I recognized my own strength, and my curiosity allowed me to learn SO much about myself, other people and the life experience, that I see this time of my life as a gift, which provided many opportunities.

      I did not deny anything, welcomed ALL feelings and emotions while facing the challenges with open heart and mind, willingness and desire to learn, grow and evolve.
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        Aug 22 2013: Colleen you have admirable and inspirational strength, thank you.

        On Denial; there are several form it can take, some health and other unhealthy and even deathly. Drugs and alcohol only make problems worse, but on the other hand denial and semi-denial can be a useful tool. Sometimes we need to postpone internally working thought issues until we are ready, and temporary denial can help us postpone. I think is superbetter.com is a healthy style of semi-denial, and people have been using online-gaming to escape/denial real life and if done right that is also healthy.
        Personally I used semi-denial for a few years to help me stay happy, after my MS dx. 11 years ago. I take the drugs and put it out of mind the rest of the time, and thus Semi-denial. Now I educate myself, diet, exercise, etc. etc. but at first I was not ready mentally or spiritually to deal with it. And denial kept me from falling into depression.

        But back on topic, real life issues can influence happiness. But that is not to say real life issues have total control over happiness.
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          Aug 22 2013: Thank you Don, and I think/feel we all have more strength than we sometimes think we have. You have demonstrated that with your challenge as well my friend.

          I agree that there are different forms that denial can take. Postponing something, to me, feels different than denial. For example, there are times when I feel that I just cannot deal with all the emotions involved with a situation at the same time. I may face some, and postpone others. As multi sensory, multi dimensional humans, we can experience many different emotions at the same time. We can choose to go deeply into some, or all of the emotions at any given time.

          Sometimes, during the recovery from the head injury for example, I simply could not face thinking about or feeling what my life was going to be like. What if I can never walk again....what if I cannot function at all, which is what the prognosis was. 5 months after the head injury, I went in for cancer surgery.

          Sometimes, I told myself, at that moment, that day, that's all I had to do was rest and heal. When I could walk 2 steps, I congratulated myself and celebrated the accomplishment. And the next day I went 4 steps.....8 steps......on and on....and I congratulated myself with every single step......and that's all I could do that day. I accepted where I was, and continued to believe I could do more the next day.

          As I healed physically and emotionally, I was able to take more and more steps, and delve into all of the emotions on deeper and deeper levels. I remember a couple times, way after the fact.....maybe 2 or 3 years later, laying on the floor, totally "spent" from crying, and feeling many emotions that I "postponed". If I had gone to that depth during the most challenging times, it would have taken energy from the body/mind that I needed to heal.
      • Aug 22 2013: Colleen, yes, this is exactly why I posted this question. I am right there. I too believe happiness is internal and it is our conditioned self, which crates all types obstacles and stories to keep us from our inner happiness. The conditioned self loves to keep us searching, buying, tells us we need to earn happiness and you must be worthy of deserving happiness. People have literally searched the world for happiness only to learn and understand they are the sole source of their happiness. I believe 100% Happiness is internal and if you have a strong foundation, nothing shakes your inner happiness, Soul Joy.
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          Aug 22 2013: Teresa,
          I think/feel that we are all "worthy" or "deserving" of happiness/contentment no matter what the external life adventure we are experiencing.

          I wholeheartedly agree....people often search for happiness outside themselves, when it is in us to "be" the source of our own happiness.
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        Aug 22 2013: You are correct Caesar, that some people wear masks. I do not agree that anyone can "undermine" the happiness of another person. My message continues to be that we create our own happiness/contentment.

        If external factors can influence you enough to "undermine" your happiness/contentment, I suggest that you are depending on external factors for your own happiness, which doesn't usually work very well, and as you insightfully say, "is not genuine happiness".
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        Aug 22 2013: You are absolutely correct Caesar Ducant, that some people do indeed attempt to undermine other peoples happiness because they pretend their lives are not what they are and cannot stand it when other people are genuinely happy.

        No, I have never done that..have you? If it makes no difference to you, as you say, why do you ask the question?

        No Caesar, I am not passive aggressive....are you? Are you projecting your own "stuff"?
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        Aug 22 2013: I totally agree Caesar, that self introspection is good for all of us.
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    Aug 22 2013: happiness is a state of mind which is internal but influence by external things.
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    Aug 22 2013: I think it's a circle ..
    internally .. the state of happiness is -usually- due to external events around .. people we love .. places we visit .. music we listen .. and so on ..
    externally .. the wonderful events happen because of our attitude and insistence inside to feel, live and make the wonderful things.. so we see the world by the eye of beauty ..
    but the beginning is from inside .. when you decide to be happy .. you'll have a million reason to be happy :)
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    Aug 22 2013: Both.
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    Aug 22 2013: Happiness comes from satisfaction and the factors can only be external for example, food, water, shelter, employment, security, love/belonging, achievement and many more.
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      Aug 22 2013: Some people have all of that and are still not happy. So it is not only external.
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        Aug 22 2013: I think different kinds of people may need different external conditions of environment to make themselves happy. They may also have different natural tendency in feeling hapiness. Some people(A) always want to have more because they'd like to see more about what they haven't got.But for other people(B) , they think what the (A) got is much more than most people's. So if there isn't any external environment,there won't be any comparisons.
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      Aug 22 2013: Perhaps happiness is to strong a word. Perhaps we should substitute the world contentment.
  • Aug 21 2013: In my personal opinion, the happiness is a state of person due to differents beliefs that person has, for example to one person the happiness is help someone or do real your dreams, but the happiness can be influence by your external circumstances and internal, both, because you have different needs like explained the pyramid of Webber that has a human been for instance, basic needs, self-confidence needs and others. It could explain that the happiness can be connected with share and help to grow to others and feel at the same time that you are growing too. Because when I help someone, I learn and I am happy
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    Aug 21 2013: i think it is both internal and external
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    Aug 21 2013: I found this talk interesting: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

    I wish we had more specific language related to happiness. I think there are a multitude of things that could be meant when we speak of happiness. Is it optimism? Is it laughter and pure joy? Is it a sense of purpose or contentment? What is is that people mean when they say happiness? Perhaps we could define it as the broad term that encompasses all things related to positive human experience in which case you could say that people are happy when they eat a large order of fries with a burger and a milkshake. Actually I will be right back...
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    Aug 20 2013: in the throes of happiness, it doesn't matter
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    Aug 18 2013: Our happiness is based on a chemical reaction created within the body. However our outlook on any given situation can change ones perception of this reality. Thus creating a positive association with the most unfortunate experiences
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      Aug 22 2013: If you eat a spicy meal and get heartburn, you may be both: unhappy with the heartburn while happy with the meal - negation effect. If you take an antacid to alleviate the heartburn( chemical reaction) you can be both happy the heartburn is gone and happy with the meal. However, it you take too much antacid, you may negate the killing force of the hydrochloric acid in your body, allowing some bad bacteria to make it's way into your lower intestines, causing you to feel bad, inducing a sense of unhappiness.

      What do you mean by an unfortunate experience creating a positive association? What is the experience and how is the experience positive instead of negative?
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        Aug 22 2013: By a unfortunate experience I am referring to a relationship that goes sour. We often have a tendency to believe it’s the end of the world when things turn out for the worst. However the experience could have been necessary for personal growth. So it for those that rely on others people for their happiness. I was recent there and realize that all I did to try to keep someone else happy was a waste of time. Ended up having to walk away from the relationship. In the end, this turn of events forced me to focus on myself to find happiness within myself. Turning a negative into a positive
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          Aug 22 2013: Sounds like your experience was a HUGE lesson Alex. We cannot make someone else happy, and you are wise to walk away from a relationship that depends on that. To try to make someone else happy, or keep them happy depletes our own energy, and depending on another person to "make" us happy is not so good for a relationship. I have been there as well my friend, and to learn that lesson sooner, rather than later in one's life is a gift to yourself, and anyone you will be in relationship with:>)
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          Aug 22 2013: Good luck to you. :)
  • Aug 11 2013: Hi teresa:0. Circumstances and situations are one of the factors which form human happiness. In fact, those external things could be changed in a way how people accecpt the situation one faces. All things start from the one's inner heart.
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    Aug 9 2013: I don't percieve happiness as just feeling good. I think happiness is feeling alive, that sensation of being in the moment and connecting. It is not just the feeling of good, because if you just search for that constantly then it loses its power, it is like the yin yang. Happiness is both feelings of goodness and feelings of sadness and pain, because they feed off each other and heighten the sensation of both. That being said, I believe that happiness is an internal sensation, much like conciousness. There are physical signs that we can attribute it too, like the chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain, but it fully exists somewhere else. Though Happiness can be effected by external forces, ultimately it is the perception of the person that affects happiness, whether they choose to numb themselves or open themselves up to it.
  • Aug 9 2013: I think happiness is internal. I think we can train our minds to be happy without the help of external matter up to quite an extent.
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    Aug 9 2013: Happiness is the resultant feeling of euphoria when neurotransmitters in the brain are being released and uptaken by certain receptors on neurons.
    These neurotransmitters can be endogenous or exogenous. Exogenous examples include certain drugs, foods, that we ingest and function on those receptors.
    These neurotransmitters can be modulated by external stimuli such as stress, events, hormones etc.
    So basically happiness a combination of internal AND external factors.
    But happiness is impossible if certain neurotransmitters are depleted or absent so the seat of happiness is internal.
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      Aug 9 2013: .

      Are the "neurotransmitters" the information packages of external things?
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        Aug 9 2013: No they are chemicals.
        That's why they are dependent on drugs and food.
        More of the right neurotransmitter = more happiness
        Less = sadness

        Straightforward and measurable. All this soul stuff is just crap. The only choice or control we have over our happiness is by controlling our neurotransmitters.
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          Aug 10 2013: .

          Sorry!
          I didn't express my self right.

          I should have written as:
          They are "chemicals" used as information packages for neurotransmission. .
  • Aug 9 2013: Hi Dear teresa proctor,I think happines is from internal to external.
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    Aug 8 2013: external. aka chocolate.
    • Aug 9 2013: Yes, chocolate is external and only a temperary state, but it does make you feel happy, happy, happy if only for a short period of time!
  • Aug 8 2013: Happiness must come from the inside, if not then a person always has to look for it everywhere but inside yourself. Happiness is not located anywhere, it is a state of mind.
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      Aug 9 2013: .

      Yes!
      A short-time state of mind.
      Or, we can not keep our DNA alive.
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      Aug 22 2013: This seems to contradict your other comment Caesar, in which you say that some people can "undermine" another's happiness.

      In this comment, you say..."you have to have a mind set to find and be happy regardless of outside circumstances...."

      In your honest perception and experience, without any masks, which is it?
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          Aug 22 2013: Thank you, I will take that under advisement. However, people on TED can read Caesar, in case you have not noticed:>)

          In your honest perception and experience, without any masks, which is it?
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          Aug 22 2013: that's rude Mr. Ducant.
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          Aug 22 2013: Neither am I here for your acceptance or approval....on that we agree:>)
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          Aug 22 2013: Caesar Ducant,
          You tagged this comment onto one of my comments...apparently it was not to Thaddea, but to me. OK.....whatever. You are simply playing games, and it is apparent.
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    Aug 22 2013: Happiness, in it's most basic raw form, is internal.

    No matter the circumstance, I believe the human mind is capable of experiencing happiness by sheer will- we always have a choice and albeit some situations involve suffering, humiliation, and even death... The spirit of the person is strong enough to bypass the typical response if the person so chooses.

    This is not to say it's easy. It is perhaps the most difficult challenge one could face; to despair is desired, to feel anger and pity is encouraged- in the face of in injustice, we want to feel unhappy. Rightfully so in most cases. My point is, however, that our state of being is controlled not by the happenings out there, but by the internal reactions in here.
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    Aug 22 2013: Our actions are an indication of how we feel about ourselves and our environment. From this I draw the conclusion that happiness is a product of internal conflict or resolution.

    Stepping on my toes will make me unhappy -external influence.
    Tossing me a smile will make me feel better -external influence.
    Indulging in a nice memory of a happy event will make me feel happy -internal influence; originally the memory was formed by an external influence.

    I guess, most forms of happiness, are formed by external influence, retained by memory and can be revisited internally to continue a state of happiness.

    So the external influences win.
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    Aug 22 2013: I believe we are talking about two different states here. Happiness is to a large extent dependent on the happenings in our life. It's the way we feel when things go our way and life seems to be treating us well, at least for the moment. Joy, on the other hand, is internal and a conscious choice. It does not depend on the circumstances or events in life. We choose to smile even when things seem to be at their worst! Joy to a certain extent can influence our external state of happiness or bliss. If we are content on the inside and at peace with life, we can begin to be happy even during the worst storms of our life. :)
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      Aug 22 2013: The state of contentment could be a prerequisite for how much happiness we can derive from the external environment. How we come to be in this state may be due completely to outside influences. A question comes to mind: are we born with a sense of contentment or joy?
  • Aug 21 2013: I am sorry I am late to provide a comment on the ongoing topic. But as a new Ted member I am very enthusiastic to greet the TED team and share my vision of the world with you, and learn from the TED community as well.
    I am from Côte D'Ivoire, it is a pleasure for me to read and learn the world through TED.
    I wish the good to the corporation.
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      Aug 22 2013: Welcome Acafou Bekoin. We are always happy to make new friends.
  • Aug 21 2013: Happiness though very internal to you but is definitely influenced by external events. Your emotions govern your level of happiness and contentment. As emotions are the results of your thoughts, which are ultimately the generation of your mind. Thus in this way, it can be concluded that happiness as a result of your thoughts is internal to you essentially. However, external events may create a imbalance of thoughts leading to a state of being not happy. However, by getting rid of negative thoughts/emotions, you can experience everlasting happiness in life.
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      Aug 22 2013: Life ends in death. How can we experience "everlasting happiness" in a limited time frame? I would think the experience ends with the death of the lifeform.
  • Aug 20 2013: False dichotomy.
  • Aug 20 2013: I think happineess is definitely internal. When people think that they are happy, they can be happy. Actually I've experienced this kind of situation. I was in the same situation at different time. They are exatly same problems, but when I though that I can handle this problem and it does not matter, I was happy, because I knew I was going to solve the problem. However, when I though it's burden and I can not handle this, I was unhappy. Besides, if happiness is influenced by external circimstances, it really depends on each person. Some people love meat, so when they eat meat, they will be happy. But some people loath meat, so when they eat meat, they will not be happy.
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      Aug 22 2013: If they loath meat, why would they eat it and experience unhappiness?
  • Aug 20 2013: actually .the definition of happiness are different from different people, for example:for an old and lonely man,maybe health and other's company are his happiness,for a kid , delicious candy or ice-cream ?but for some people ,they just like some feeling which attack their heart .
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    Aug 19 2013: Happiness lies within

    it lies secure in your belief

    that no matter what i will be happy.
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      Aug 22 2013: easier said than done
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        Aug 22 2013: Those who depend on external factors to be happy , never find happiness.
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          Aug 22 2013: Happiness is not hidden so that you have to find it.
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          Aug 22 2013: Adesh, External factors do influence how we feel. I think it is impossible for one to be happy when they are hungry and there is no food, when they are in physical pain and there is no cure, and when all around them there is nothing but tragedy.

          The idea that one can be happy by simply deciding to be so may work when everything else is under control.
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      Aug 22 2013: But I think belief is something you've got from some informal or formal ecucations etc. That's to say the environment external gives you impact on your feeling.
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    Aug 19 2013: I think the happy feeling is from your heart inside- it's the same for everyone , but the causes of happiness are from the external evironment from which you feel things' happening around you giving you impact on mental or physical. Everyone has different genes of feeling and expressing happiness as well as chances of experiencing different kind of external environment:meeting different people, doing different jobs, taking up different hobbies, eating different foods.....
  • Aug 11 2013: It's both internal and external that's quite obvious you can be the happiest person in the world eternally but if the next day you become a quadriplegic it might make a dent in your happiness. And it's located in the brain and it can be influenced by both but truly since we are all inside our own worlds behind these eyes everything you do say think or feel is completely internal. If you were truly whacked out enough you could stay happy no matter the circumstances.
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      Aug 21 2013: I thought this quote might be illuminating from Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being by Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger:
      "In a more recent study using longitudinal data, Oswald and Powdthavee (2005) find that average life satisfaction drops after the onset of a moderate disability, but fully recovers to the predisability level after two years. This process is known as adaptation or habituation. For those with severe disabilities, Oswald and Powdthavee find that adaptation takes place, but is incomplete. Interestingly, Smith, Langa, Kabeto and Ubel (2005) find that the onset of a new disability causes a greater drop in life satisfaction for those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution than for those in the top half, suggesting an important buffering effect of wealth, although low-wealth individuals still recovered some of their predisability well-being."
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    Aug 10 2013: Daniel Kahneman's TED Talk addresses happiness in several ways:

    "Everybody would like to make people happier. But in spite of all this flood of work, there are several cognitive traps that sort of make it almost impossible to think straight about happiness"

    Daniel Kahneman also answers the question of whether money can buy happiness.

    "Daniel Kahneman: Sure. I think the most interesting result that we found in the Gallup survey is a number, which we absolutely did not expect to find. We found that with respect to the happiness of the experiencing self. When we looked at how feelings, vary with income. And it turns out that, below an income of 60,000 dollars a year, for Americans -- and that's a very large sample of Americans, like 600,000, so it's a large representative sample -- below an income of 60,000 dollars a year, people are unhappy, and they get progressively unhappier the poorer they get. Above that, we get an absolutely flat line. I mean I've rarely seen lines so flat. Clearly, what is happening is money does not buy you experiential happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery, and we can measure that misery very, very clearly. In terms of the other self, the remembering self, you get a different story. The more money you earn, the more satisfied you are. That does not hold for emotions.."



    Daniel Kahneman says in his talk that to a point
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      Aug 10 2013: I have often referred readers to Kahneman's talk as well as to his Nobel address, because this subject is such a huge interest among participants in TED conversations.

      One addition, or rather idea I would like to underline, is that this research about the relationship between income and happiness is very much about relative happiness within a single country.

      In cross national comparisons it is not necessarily true that income and happiness after a certain target value are uncorrelated.
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        Aug 11 2013: In "The Moral Landscape" author Sam Harris speaks to the need for "well being," and not happiness, to serve as the indicator of the human condition." Kahneman makes this point is well.
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    Aug 10 2013: This is a classical mind-body question and involves quantum nature of mind (neurochemical brain functions). That is simply to say there is no clear boundary between the internal and the external, participator and the function, observer and the experiment - such that one can be considered independent of the other.
    This seems plausible to me as I have known people 'apparently' happy in conditions many would find no 'reason' to be happy about.
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    Aug 10 2013: Ok, let's spoil the party here ... :o)

    'Happiness' is an internal biochemical reaction and located within our brains. Trigger for this 'reaction' to take place can be internal and external and both can be of equal value in its response.

    Chemical substances like alcohol or drugs can have an influencing effect on the triggering mechanisms and may change the 'experiencing' level as well.
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    Aug 9 2013: .

    Happiness is the feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive.
    So, it is:
    . (1) "Internal" feeling;
    . (2) "External" things.