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Can we be happy without being free ?

Is happiness connected to freedom ? can a slave be happy ? can a dictator be happy ? what do you have to do on yourself to be happy (if this is possible) ?

  • Nov 1 2013: Nobody is completely free and nobody can be completely enslaved.
    We cannot be completely free because our relationships to others, to our communities, and to the natural environment all present us with limitations on our freedom. We accept the majority of those because there are benefits to some accommodation or compliance.
    We cannot ever be completely enslaved as long as we have our minds, because even when others have the power to control the outward aspects of our lives, the can never be sure about our thoughts (at least not yet). This is why dictators and tyrants can never relax.
    Power and the resources of our lives are not distributed equally or fairly, however, so people live in varying degrees of individual and collective freedom How happy each is with his or her condition of relative freedom may depend on individual needs and whether those are being adequately met, access to information/knowledge about the possibilities so that people know what the limitations to their freedoms are, and whether the limitations are "naturally occurring" as in the case of specific physical or intellectual challenge (i.e. autism, MS, Downs Syndrome, loss of limbs, and so forth), ad what resources are available to help them transcend the limitations to their freedoms.
    In other words, the relationship between freedom and happiness isn't simple and is shaped by perception.
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      Nov 1 2013: Nicely formulated, David

      It is certainly possible to be more free and less happy, or less free and happier. Indeed, whether there is any direct relationship between the two I find doubtful.

      No human is independent, and therefore also not free. Indeed, that which gives us most happiness (being part of a group) entails limitations on our freedoms.

      Entrapment at one end of the spectrum and freedom at the other are both undesirable. Happiness drifts somewhere in the middle.
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    Nov 5 2013: Absolute freedom does not exist. Every period of your life you are depending of somebody. (parents, school, job, superiors, money, time...)

    Dealing with the fact that you are not free, can make you think more rational, and deal rational, so you will respect your time, and your happy moments, and you will fight for making more that moments that makes you feel happy.
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    Nov 1 2013: Both are relative, and so depend on your base line, in which environment you were born. For those of us who are born free, they have to coexist and coincide in order for one or the other to be acknowledged by self.
  • Nov 1 2013: A simple-minded answer to your question is a definite yes. But , to consider your definition on both of the terms, i. e. happiness and freedom, the terms could mean quite differently among different people.
    Let's look at the term "happiness". To some people happiness is just an alternative form of "content'. In this way, then almost anybody can be "happy", even if s/he is a slave. And also it is really weird psychologically that a dictator could be not quite contented, thus unhappy. Of course, if you define happiness only as the power or wealth to buy or get any material thing one WANTED, then happiness should belong to the dictators. However, a slave could be contented to whatever he is allowed to have or be given, he could be quite happy.
    The term "freedom" is even more ambiguous, that, for some people, it means they should be allowed to do whatever they wanted to do even when the act is being classified as criminal. That kind of "freedom", even if it is further defined as being constitutionally sanctioned, could still be subject to change by the current court of law.
    In conclusion, the degree of happiness and freedom may be statistically positively correlated, but they are far from a perfect correlation.
    • Nov 2 2013: As you point out, happiness is a relative term!
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    Nov 1 2013: Yes, when people fall in love with someone, some people will choose to get married to take more responsibilites.
  • Nov 7 2013: My answer will be "no". Happiness is connected to freedom, but what exactly means "freedom"? Absolute freedom does not exist. In owns' whole life, there are various relations between people, and our lives are all depending on the environment. Laws, parents and teachers tell us what should be done while others shouldn’t. To some extent, we never have freedom to do what ever things we want, but no one will say he/she never felt happy. Also, compared with slaves and dictators, even though the freedom is limited, we still have own rights to lead a personal life.

    Happiness is something inside the heart; it is a feeling that cannot be controlled. People cannot be really happy if they make up their minds to be. That is not the "true happiness".
  • Nov 6 2013: Happiness can occur at a particular event (i.e. birth of a child). If you are talking about the general feeling of goodness, then you need freedom.
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    Nov 6 2013: Follow the ethical value in his life, and ask yourself when you feel nervous. Try to listen your internal voice before its sound become mute compare to other voice which has more attraction than voice of soul.
    I am sure you will be happy and believe in yourself.
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    Nov 5 2013: If you are free to give up freedom, yes. Why not?
  • Nov 5 2013: Absolute freedom does not exist, so the answer is "I certainly hope so" for anyone without it. Its mostly about learning to live with what you have (or what you can realistically achieve), as opposed to what you lack.

    As for dictators, they can be plenty happy. Why wouldn't they be? If autocratic rule wasn't their cup of tea, they'd stop being dictators.
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    Nov 4 2013: Absolute freedom is a chimera (a myth). A slave can be happy but a nation that has slaves can never be happy. Happiness is a state of the mind.
  • Nov 4 2013: People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln
    I have to agree with Abe, I think happiness is an inside job.
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    Nov 3 2013: Yes, and you can be unhappy while being free.
    you mention Dan's talk, and I think his take on it is probably a good view on the connection between one and the other
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    Nov 1 2013: We can never be completely happy. I think it depends on the individual. Most people react similaryl to a situation, but there are a few people (and I mean few as in millions) that have a higher tolerance for more painful things. Take your dictator example: If in order for him to achieve an especific goal, he has two start a war that will eventually kill many people he would do it. This would not, disrupt his ability to feel "happy" at times. A slave who has been born a slave and that is the only way of life he knows he will be able to feel some happiness. In your question is happiness connected to freedom, maybe for a person who has been "free" all their lives and are turned into slaves this will be the case. I think to be happy we have to feel that we are doing something important in our life time, we have to feel like we are experiencing different things in life, and that we are leaving a mark in the world. Anyway, that is just my opinion.
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    Nov 1 2013: A great buddy makes me happy for that I don't need freedom.