Lauren Prince

NBC News


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What is happiness?

What is happiness? We all feel it, but what IS it? Is it an experience? A manifestation of hard work? OR is it a state of being?

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    Mar 1 2012: An excellent question, and very difficult to answer due to it's subjectivity. But, here's a thought:

    Happiness, in theory, is getting what you want.
    But happiness, in reality, is wanting what you get.
    • Mar 1 2012: So in theory, a person with lice that gets to scratch herself,
      And in reality it's that person getting lice because she wanted to scratch herself?
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        Mar 1 2012: I'm not sure if that's a fair analogy, perhaps because it's such a disgusting thought (to me that is)!

        What I was attempting to say is that what you think will make you happy may not, the secret is to find the positive aspects of what you have and to recognize the value therein.

        This perhaps sounds overly optimistic, but are pessimists ever happy? Maybe pessimists are happy when things go wrong just like they imagined. How strange...
        • Mar 2 2012: I can see what you are trying to say. Eastern philosophies usually speak of it as 'gratitude'. We usually recognize that as the result of the death of the ego. By letting go of the egocentric view you'll almost find it hard to not feel happiness, because the ego is a mental prison that we create for ourselves. It's when we loose our traditional sense of self that we truly find ourselves, and that is a process that cannot be substituted by hormones.
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      Mar 2 2012: easy question and easy answer
      When not thinking about the reason for happiness
      Why think about the cause of happiness
      And do not think about the cause of the sadness
      Both a sense of home is different from person to person
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    Mar 4 2012: A person came to Lord Gautama Buddha and said, "I want happiness". Buddha said: "Remove the "I" - that's Ego; Remove the "want" - that's desire, and see what you are left with!"
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      Mar 5 2012: That is absolutely wrong to my opinion. when you are thirsty, just remove thirst and you won;t need water so you are good. does that sound logical ? why would you remove wanting ? you should balance everything ,extreme wanting or desire is not healthy but normal moderate desire and wanting is what derives people ... you listen to this advice and you will end up in the corner of street being content for a dry bread and water , you may survive but that is not happiness. it is when you feel pain and work hard to reach your goal that you feel happiness along the way and when you reach destination
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    Mar 2 2012: Do you want to know what happiness is?

    Turn the computer off, go find someone you love a lot, and hug him/her.
    Close your eyes.
    Feel the warmth in your chest.

    Now you know :)
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      Mar 2 2012: Super Idea!! Making sure to ask the person(s) who is(are) loved a lot, permission to hug before initiating the the hug :) then for those whom one can not directly hug, taking what action one can take, or saying what words one might say, that will warm their hearts and better their lives.
      • W T

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        Mar 3 2012: Aaaah Juliette............lovely :)
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      Mar 4 2012: Pablo, i tried it but my neighbour didnt understand..... told me he wasnt gay and punched me knocking out 2 teeth. Last time i take your advice!
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        Mar 4 2012: Haha! Ok, permission is "kind of important", I give you that.
        But tell me, besides the phisical pain, didn't it feel goooood? ;)
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    Mar 4 2012: Lauren,

    There are a lot of scientific studies about the theme. Happiness by R. Layard is one of the great books in the field. Also the world book of happiness ( is a book which i would really advise everyone to buy. It brings dozens of scientific studies all over the world that show what happiness is.

    My analysis is that to be happy you need to solve Maslow's pyramid of human needs: our first need is to ensure that all our physical needs are met. We need to have a roof, food and drinks, and sleep. That’s why a lot of people today go to work. However, work to survive in Western societies is not enough any more. Once we have some job security that pays the bills, we are looking for something else, basically to learn, to apply and grow the talents that we all have.

    Today, many people are unaware which talents they possess, they are in the wrong kind of job, today many people are afraid to embrace their talent or take full responsibility for it. Today this is one of the major causes of unhappiness and is the core problem for happiness via economy.

    Now, once you figured out what talents you have, the next question is what you want to use your talents for. Money? Fame? Maslow claimed experiences, respect from others and self-actualization is the end goal of individuals. Those are all very nice of course. Maslow’s model fails to see though that the end game is not yourself, it’s the other.

    Science and your gut don’t lie: you feel good if you, by your choice and action, can help someone else with your tale

    We are at a verge of a fundamental choice in today’s world: are we looking to invent yet another version of the same type of policies and economics? Increase efficiency, work harder, lower wages? Succumb to global competition? Or should we see the goal of our economy and technology is not money, it is happiness of people.

    a group of TEDsters is crowdsourcing a new word on TEDx Leuven for that thought end of the month.
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    Mar 2 2012: Firstly it's not happiness you are looking for it's joy. Happiness is related mostly to situations that give you peace, make you laugh, stimulate you or just is something you enjoy. Seeing a good movie, going on a drive to see something you love, going to a party, seeing a significant other etc etc etc. Joy is a constant upbeat experiencing of life, and whatever good or bad happens, is taken in your stride and experienced as a part of your journey. Joy is not related to moments, but is a general and constant state of mind and body. The art of finding joy is to strip out the worldly success that is related to it. You will not find joy in money, power, sex, materials or anything else worldly for that matter. Look around you and try find someone who found joy in building wealth, buying stuff, going on vacations two three times a year. Look at the lives of people who have tons of money and power. Divorce is rampant, drugs are a constant problem, adultery is common, family violence. For some examples look at Hollywood, sportsmen like golfers, basket ballers, footballers the list is endless. True joy is more than that, and a lot simpler indeed.
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      Mar 3 2012: of the 9 parts of the fruit of the can be cultivated.

      Loved your comment.

      Be Well
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    Mar 3 2012: Happiness is a choice -- a choice to recognize and focus on the positives, the blessings, the gifts in our life. It's a feeling that starts with conscious thought and with practice, can be a state of being.
  • Mar 3 2012: I like how Gordon Livingston, Author of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: 30 things you need to know now, puts it.

    It goes something like this: Happiness is having something to do, something to look forward to and someone to love.
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    Mar 3 2012: As a young person, I experience happiness mainly through hope and expectations for the future. I hope to move to London in September to start university. And although I am confident with the situation I am in right now, my plan for the short-run future brightens my present and even my past.
    Difficult or dark spots of my current situation are easier to bear as I expect them to change soon while I cannot change my past and only influence my future and if I do that in the right way, I can avoid making the same mistakes I have done.
    It also gives me confidence in the long run, as I am satisfied with the parts I have planned already and shape the uncertainty of the long run (which is typical for my age, I guess).
    Of course and this again might be due to my age, happiness implies change and improvement. I expect my perception of happiness to change while I grow older because of experience and thoughts I have thought. I hope that I will recognise the point where I need to stand still for a second and just experience happiness of the moment and I will not let it pass because of my thoughts of the future.
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      Mar 5 2012: Dear Tara,

      I share the same experience of happiness with you. I am not satisfied with what I have done in the past, it is just not rich enough and I am going to start university again and in the field that I love . I am a post graduate already and I am trying to study exactly what I am enthusiastic about.
      If you already have doubts, study what you love and no other. this will be a key to your happiness.
  • Mar 2 2012: There are some really great people with really beautiful insight on this thread, and I have to say, if happiness were really to be defined, it wouldn't fit in a book, and that's why everyone has a different take, but everyone has a point.
    To me, happiness is focus.
    You focus your mind on the positive, rather than the negative.
    You focus your attention on the present, rather than the past or the future.
    You focus your energy towards good causes and pure intentions, so that those around you can be infected with that energy and resonate at the same rhythm.
    Every emotion or state of mind we are capable of is accessible at any time. It's a matter of learning which ones you want to embrace, and which ones you should learn to overcome, and discovering the different ways that you, as an individual, can unlock those doors.
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      Mar 2 2012: I totally agree Crystelle, that happiness is focus. What we focus on expands. We can be mindfully aware of everything that is happening in our world, and live a content, happy life by "being" in the moment. I am very aware of things happening on the other side of our world for example, and I know in this moment, there is nothing I can do about some things, so my focus goes to those things I CAN do in the moment. Where our focus flows. We can spend our energy on good causes and pure intentions as you insightfully say, Crystelle. I also agree that this state of "being" is infectious:>) When we know our "self", we know how to access various "states" of being at any time, and embrace that which we choose. Life is an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve, and when I am in the moment with this concept firmly planted in my mind and heart, it changes the energy in the moment.

      "Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination"
      (Roy M. Goodman)
      • Mar 2 2012: Beautifully said, Colleen. :) "Where our focus flows." That is absolutely true. People are always looking for solutions from a bird's eye view, and it is, of course, important to know what the big picture looks like. But when it comes to action, when it comes to change, it's all in the details. If you focus your energy on the things you can change, the things around you, and trust that sooner or later the chain of events you've taken part in will spread, eventually all the tiny dots in that big picture will change color, pixel by pixel, to reveal a more harmonious world.
        A happy person wishes no harm to those around him/her. Only things like jealousy, resentment, selfishness, and the feeling of oppression foster the negative intentions that we are all so familiar with, from within and without.
        Therefore happiness, as a "way of travel", is easily the change we need in this world, person by person. I hope we all find that journey, one way or another.
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          Mar 2 2012: Yes!!! One thing that has helped me focus energy on things I CAN change is this:

          "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change,
          courage to change the things I can,
          and wisdom to know the difference"

          It's called the "Serenity Prayer" and for me, it is simply a reminder of how, why, when, where and with whom I can be effective in the life journey:>)
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      Mar 4 2012: This is interesting. I like what you said but this is largely dependent on wether one has the ability to dominate ones own mind in such a way to guide ones own thoughts. Many people do not posess this power and are dominated by the world and its pressures. You seem to be a person who managed to take control of his mind and gain a level of contentment via that control. In my experience people in mental distress have no control over their mental state. My son has intrusive thoughts, these are thoughts that just happen over and over and over again. It pains me to thing he cannot gain control of his own mind. the thoughts can drive him mad and ultimately have no happiness at all. Focus I do think is important as a possible way for some people to gain happiness of mind but the more I read this thread the more Im realising that there arre many methods for many people for many reasons.
      • Mar 4 2012: Basil, I know what you're talking about very well, and from first-hand experience. My history with my own mental instability is a long and heavy one. I think that the trick lies in a single moment in which you understand in full clarity that you are not your thoughts, you are the conscious being observing your own thoughts. There is a state of mind in which you can clear your mind, and it can be achieved in many different ways. Repetitive prayer and chanting is one way that has been used by indigenous and ancient cultures. Sometimes music, such as certain types of trance or tribal music, can help take a person to that level. Mostly, of course, things like meditation have remarkable effects. A lot of people are very skeptical about these things, but I think it's very logical. When you meditate you focus on your breathing until all the thoughts in your head drift away, and you are left in a state similar to sleep, but you are awake. Learning how to do this helps a person learn to focus and learn to overcome the challeneges his/her own mind imposes.
        Psychiatrists were no help to me, Basil. If it wasn't for the simple things like yoga and music I would still be a manic depressive drug addict living hand-in-hand with suicidal impulses. I hope you and your son all the best, and I hope that he finds his own way to overcome the instability and discovers his balance in life. Our minds are our own most challenging rivals.
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          Mar 4 2012: Thankyou for this. It provides brand new insight for me. I had no idea that ones mind could become such an enemy. The fact that you have to actualy regard your own thoughts as an unwanted consequence of being you. I applaud your strength and bravery to go on and fight to enjoy this existence despite the struggle you are faced with.
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          Mar 5 2012: Dear Crystelle,

          You are not your thoughts yes, because OFC (Orbitofrontal cortex) of the brain is an explicit structure and you can consciously monitor it but you are your emotions because they are generated in AMYGDALA and the structure is implicit for the brain. and you can not consciously monitor the logic of your emotions.

          It seems that you have used music and Yoga to control the anxiety. they work and they do good but there are severe cases that one really needs medication and cognitive therapy to rewire the brain.

          you currently think this way with your current brain, you would be a totally different thinking person once you change the brain biochemistry that was imbalanced.

          If psychiatrist are of no help, change your psychiatrist, google your problem, hundreds of thousands of people have similar experiences, learn from them, learn how brain works, find out what medication does and just like your case when you succeed in controlling a condition share your methodology with people so that many others can benefit.
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          Mar 6 2012: Dear Collen,

          thank you for your concerns about the public health. Personally I think there is nothing wrong with introducing or talking about a medication in a public forum. you do believe in the intelligence of readers and their ability to fully investigate, think and decide for themselves. don't you ? information like this can save people. I will not advocate self-censorship in a scientific discussion forum.

          I do agree with you that there are many ways to create happiness and the magic word you used BALANCE I also believe is the key. EQUILIBRIUM ... thanks for bringing that into sight.

          I would also love to hear your opinion on what measures balance ! how do we find out the balance point of anything. what is it relative to ?
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          Mar 7 2012: Sina,
          I absolutely DO "believe in the intelligence of readers and their ability to fully investigate, think and decide for themselves"...most of the time. I am also aware that there are vulnerable people reading and commenting on TED...people who may be looking for a "quick fix"...young people...etc. I agree that all information can be of value to some people. I am also aware of the over use of medications, and the belief of some people that medications will "fix" everything.

          I don't percieve this to be a "scientific discussion" Sina, and although science may enter this discussion, it feels like you are advocating the use of medications beyond what is necessary.

          Balance is different for all individuals, which is why it is important for each and every individual to find his/her own balance, either with his/her own exploration, the help of a councelor, various practices, or medications, if that is indicated. The point I'm trying to make, is that it is inappropriate to try to diagnose and recommend medications on a public forum, where vulnerable people may be reading and participating.

          I agree with what you have written in your profile as one of your areas of expertise..."Whole Brain Thinking". "Whole" being the operative word. As you said...people are intelligent and have the ability to fully investigate and decide for themselves and it is beneficial to investigate the "whole" person for that individual to discover his/her balance or equilibrium. It feels like you are pushing medications to the point of disregarding other practices and methods to experience happiness. The discussion topic is "What is happiness".
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        Mar 5 2012: Dear Basil,

        Those intrusive thoughts that happen over and over again is a psychological condition called Obsession or when accompanied by compulsions it is called OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). it has nothing to do with the ones ability to focus or energy. it is caused by imbalance of neuro-transmitters in brain. I would strongly advise you to do something about it. help your son instead of thinking he is having problems with focusing or having a weak personality. there are medications called SSRI that do wonders for such conditions. people are not aware that many of these thoughts and problems are done because of the brain biochemistry. Your son needs your help now. please consult a psychologist. and Google OCD. it does not need to be physical obsessions like washing hands, in many smart people it reveals itself as uncontrollable thoughts.
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          Mar 5 2012: yes thankyou for this input i respect your loving intentions. My son knows full well he has OCD, what is new for me though is that there are drugs to adress the imbalance. This is an area i am interested in learning more about. thankyou for highlighting it.
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        Mar 5 2012: Dear Basil,

        You son is lucky, you are such a caring father.

        The idea of medicine scares people away but they are really effective and has saved many restoring them back to their normal life. OCD is like a big devil you don't dare to fight with and it wins if you do BUT using SSRI family of medication makes the devil smaller in size and there comes a day (in matter of few months ) that you feel you can now fight with it and win. life becomes such a pleasant experience after that. I am not sure this is the right place but I have deeply investigated on how OCD works that I would love to share with you if you like. it may be of help
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          Mar 5 2012: Dear Sina,
          The idea of medicine does not scare me, but the mis-use of medications is not useful, so we need to be careful when promoting a medication on a public forum. There are many ways to create happiness in our lives, and often it is a balance. I remind you of your insightful comment yesterday...

          Sina Elli
          Reply13 hours ago: Dear Daniela,
          "what a joy it is to read your insightful comments.
          I o agree that using SSRIs will simple turn the feelings grey and one will not have the chance to grow through the pain. as pain can sometimes drive people forward and shape the personality creating a patient and mature one. but as you said the person must be resilient and strong. I suppose one may fail many times but keep trying to finally get out of the pain successfully with lessons learned and new horizons in sight"
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      Mar 5 2012: would you please explain in what ways focusing mind and attention are different ? and how does one focus one's energy ?
      what you have provided at best can be a happiness methodology not definition as you suggest to focus on the positive to be happy but what is being happy still remains a mystery from your point of view.
      • Mar 6 2012: Hello Sina, thank you for your insight!
        First of all I am very familiar with the brain and its workings, I studied psychology at university, with a focus on neuroscience, which is one of the fields of study I'm interested in most.
        You definitely have a point! Chemical imbalances often need chemical solutions!
        However, there are a few things that should be kept in mind:
        First of all, there are natural alternatives to SSRI's. SSRI's have the tendency to deplete the body's serotonin, and SSRI's have negative side effects. Studies are showing the importance of nutrition in treating and preventing vast amounts of illnesses, from depression to cancer!
        Here is a link with a brief, simple overview on the matter of SSRI's, depression, and natural alternatives:

        Another thing that I feel should be kept in mind is the fact that the brain is still largely a mystery. Rewiring the brain can be achieved in many different ways, most of which are still unexplored!
        You said "you currently think this way with your current brain, you would be a totally different thinking person once you change the brain biochemistry that was imbalanced." You are right. Of course, I was discussing my own experiences with manic depression and drug addiction, and everyone has different chemistry. This is why it is dangerous to skip right to SSRI's. Nowadays, doctors tend to give out these anti-depressants based on symptoms rather than urine tests, etc. They are assuming that everyone that conveys similar symptoms can be treated with the same medication!
        Anyone experiencing depression, OCD, or any other mental illness needs to look for what works for him/her as an individual with different needs, a different diet, a different brain, and a different perception from every other person in the world! We are each a unique case.
        Your concern and passion for the subject is inspiring, and I encourage it completely!
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          Mar 6 2012: Dear Crystelle,

          Thank you for your adition that made the conversation richer.

          I am glad you are familiar with the neurology of the brain so we can discuss this matter even more. I have already checked for SSRI replacement natural supplements but there is no single study proving existence of such thing. I would really love to see a scientific paper on natural supplements increasing the synaptic serotonin level.

          The link you have provided is not a scientific page, it is of no scientific value. you should never believe the claim of a website with numbers in it. this is mere advertising of a DR. who with deeper investigation you will find out to be a BSc in electrical engineering who took a chiropractic course ! and claims to be a nutrition specialist.

          the claims has no scientific foundation, there are not references to any scientific study. and he claims to cure all sorts of disease from migirines to osteoprosis to asthma to diabetes and depression !!! how do you expect me to believe in a advertisement with a few neurology trms and a photo but with no academic reference.

          when I am talking about papers I mean studies like these ones, (I did a search in medline, pybmed and some other sources for you to see if there are papers supporting that idea)

          Fernstrom JD, Wurtman RJ. Brain serotonin content: increase following ingestion of carbohydrate diet. Science 1971;174:1023–4.

          Sarna GS, Kantamaneni BD, Curzon G. Variables influencing the effect of a meal on brain tryptophan. J Neurochem 1985;44:1575–80.

          Sarna GS, Tricklebank MD, Kantamaneni BD, Hunt A, Patel AJ, Curzon G. Effect of age on variables influencing the supply of tryptophan to the brain. J Neurochem 1982;39:283–7.[Medline]

          I will continue in a second reply as this one does not allow me to type more.
      • Mar 6 2012: Sina! Very well said.
        I found this website on a quick google search, I am sure it is not something to be taken as a medical reference!
        Seeing as the AMA and WHO and virtually every other large medical association are funded by pharmaceutical corporations, I doubt that much funding has been directed towards natural, cheap cures (that cannot be patented) for virtually any disease.
        You probably won't find any decent scientific research on such matters, not now or in the near future.
        But if less credible sources (who also have less to gain from your dependence on their suggestions) are offering things unlikely to have drastic side-effects, such as a change in diet, yoga, or vitamins, I think, personally, that it's worth a try! I am not a doctor and I'm not claiming to be an expert on such matters.
        You are obviously a very skilled, thorough investigator, with a lot of knowledge! I only wish to amicably put another option on the table: There's more to the world than modern science has established! I think it's important to keep an open mind and welcome possibilities regardless of how bizarre they are, regardless of whether an authority figure in a white lab coat agrees, and regardless of whether it conflicts with your miind-set.
        I am not suggesting that you are not open-minded! Only explaining why I chose to suggest things that don't have the scientific method or an association of doctors to back them up.
        :) This is a very interesting conversation, and I will read the articles you suggested as soon as I have the time!
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    Mar 2 2012: Needing others and being needed.
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    Mar 1 2012: I cannot recommend the documentary "Happy" highly enough. The premise is that we've spent a long time studying depression it's about time we studied happiness.

    I'll give the answer away- according to the documentary there are things which we can do which increase our happiness. In fact our happiness quotient is about 40% up to us and what we do with our lives. This is the point of the film. It's well researched and presented. Think of it as a slightly longer TED talk.
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      Mar 1 2012: I have seen the documentary and I double Ziska's recommendation. it covers the roots of happiness and what causes it in different people.
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      Mar 2 2012: easy question and easy answer
      When not thinking about the reason for happiness
      Why think about the cause of happiness
      And do not think about the cause of the sadness
      Both a sense of home is different from person to person
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    Feb 29 2012: I don't think happiness is an emotion, happy is, but the two are not the same. The flow of Adam's interesting answer clearly underlines how readily we can define the absence of happiness ( I guess unhappiness) as the continual tension between positive and negative mindsets pervades our modern lives. I read articles which reference happiness like it is a destination....I believe it is not...I believe it is a journey. I am yet to be fully convinced that we have anywhere near the complexity of language ( I know I don't!) to define it for anything or anyone other than ourselves. That said, what I do 'know ' is when I afford happiness the room to show itself then it is everywhere......and as the song's a quiet thing....a very quiet thing.
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    Feb 29 2012: This is going to sound odd and horribly pessimistic, but I think that happiness is self-deception. While I don't want to give an overly dramatic and negative filter to the world because I think that we often focus on the negatives when there are a sea of positives that float by unnoticed, I do think that happiness lies in the forgetting of the negatives and the deceiving of the self about the true potentials and the possibilities of the world.

    Perhaps a better way of explaining my point is by describing what happiness is not, or rather what the absence of it is like. For instance, depressed individuals have been shown to be more realistic about their own potential and statistical probability of events. In other words, they have a more realistic sense of their own ability to succeed or fail than non-depressed people. Thus, non-depressed people are more optimistic about their potential in life, and since non-depressed are generally thought to be more "happy" than depressed people, it stands to reason (unless I made some error in logic) that being unrealistic is connected to being happy (although maybe not casually?).

    So, I would say that overestimating your potential is part of what it is to be happy. I feel like I have presented happiness as something bad or to be avoided, but this is not so. Happiness makes us evolutionarily better off because it makes us try, and yes fail but also succeed when statically it would have seemed impossible. Perhaps Jacques Cousteau puts it better than I can when he says, “If we were logical, the future might look bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.”
    • Mar 1 2012: Hi Adam. I have to disagree with you that happiness is self deception. I think you've confused delusion with happiness! I am nowhere near perfect, and I often underestimate myself. I also often surprise myself because I did underestimate myself. I've been through some horrid experiences, as I think anyone has that has lived any amount of time. I am happy. I believe that is because rather than dwell on the miseries I have experienced, I see them as learning experiences. Sometimes all I appear to have learned is that bygod, I survived THAT - which translates into 'I can survive this too,' but I find that to be a highly uselful thing to know.I'm not blind to reality or my own shortcomings. I just choose not to be bludgeoned by either.
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        Mar 1 2012: Thank you for your reply Rikki! I think that you are right that one should not dwell on the negatives of life. Indeed, positive psychology would laud that statement. And I am sure that you are aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses, as only an arrogant person would assume that they were perfect.

        However, I am not sure that I see delusion (although I would prefer the term self-deception) and happiness as mutually exclusive. One can think that they are superman/woman and be totally happy at the same time (assuming, of course, that assuming you are superman/woman is self-deception--that you are not really superman/woman!). What I believe, which sounds more pessimistic than it really is, is that "normal" (i.e. non-depressed) individuals are on average more likely to actually overestimate their own abilities by over focusing on past successes while unhappy, depressed people tend to take full stock of both their previous successes AND failures and coldly weigh them against each other.

        When I say self-deception, I strip it of its negative connotations, and merely point out that as a "normal" person, we tend to see the world as full of possibilities and wonder rather than accurately assessing risks. For instance, think of all of the relationships you have ever been in, unless your current one has been your only one, you can only have a 50% success rate at best (a flip of a coin). If you have had 3, you only have a 33% success rate and so on, assuming your current one will last. A depressed person might say that the odds just get too unlikely to work, but because people forget (or at least bury) past failures they tend to think they have better chances. I think that I can win the lottery BECAUSE I fail at stats, but it makes me feel happy thinking that the world is open to me and that good things are bound to come my way (ignoring the bad that has and will undoubtedly come).
        • Mar 2 2012: You said: "..."normal" (i.e. non-depressed) individuals are on average more likely to actually overestimate their own abilities by over focusing on past successes while unhappy, depressed people tend to take full stock of both their previous successes AND failures and coldly weigh them against each other."

          I think "coldly" weighing good and bad makes for happier people. If you can look at the past dispassionately, you can learn from it. I think depressed people focus on the failures - often on perceived failures rather than real ones - and neglect the successes. People who only see the successes don't tend to handle failures well when they happen. Side note, by "failures" I mean anything that doesn't go the way you want. Some people think having a business fail after ten good years is failure, whereas I think that is tens years of success.

          I think happiness is really the skill of forgiveness. If we can forgive ourselves for not succeeding, we aren't pinned down by failure. If we can forgive others for hurting us, we aren't pinned down by fear. If we can't forgive, then the past holds us prisoner. Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting, it just means that we let the past go - we take whatever we can learn from it and let the rest be past.

          The other thing I think is critical to happiness is a sense of connectedness. We have to know that we are part of the whole, that we are never truly alone. Science has taught us that you can take a cell from the body, move it far from the body, then poke the body and the distant cell reacts. Since we are made of all the things that make the earth, what harms the earth harms us. The elements remain connected. What happens in the universe is reflected within our bodies. My carbon and your carbon are related, so what happens to you is reflected within me. We aren't aware of these reactions consciously, but the elements within us are aware of them. We are never, ever alone. We would all be happier if we recognized this.
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          Mar 2 2012: Dear Adam,
          It feels like you are trying to convince yourself that happiness does not exist. Or are you seeking reassurance that it DOES exist?
    • Mar 2 2012: Happiness is real. Hard to believe you have never experienced the real thing we call happiness. Spring is coming soon. Guess it is time for you to fall in love with a precise peer.....hopefully, a positive person. Happy Today. Your use of percentages in your 3rd paragraph is absurd. I can tell you are not an arithmetician. Stop measuring and start feeling. (Please ignore all of my commands. Thank you.) You have the power to re-program yourself in case your elders misled you. Do it. Reprogram yourself to be as positive as you can be. Happiness is contagious.
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    Mar 7 2012: True Happiness

    True happiness
    Is not a mental hallucination.
    True happiness
    Is not a complacent feeling.
    True happiness
    Is the spontaneous feeling of joy
    That comes from knowing
    You are doing the right thing
    And leading a divine life.

    ~ Sri Chinmoy
  • Mar 6 2012: Happiness is a state of experiencing the satisfaction in all the aspects. When you satisty your mind without any greedy desires, that is happiness.
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    Mar 6 2012: It is a state of being - which is felt and experienced - a manifestation but not necessary of hard work - it can be for a number of reasons, like contentment, accepting 'what is' . surrender etc: etc:
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    Mar 5 2012: Here is a paper, which concludes that happiness is both wanting what you have and having what you want:
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      Mar 8 2012: I love it Supten!
      "Be happy with what you have and you will have plenty to be happy about"
      (Irish proverb)
  • Mar 4 2012: Looking at all the comments below, happiness means a different thing to different people and is subjective. Even though some may have a common definition of 'happiness', not everyone will share one.

    Happiness to me is not something derived from an end product but rather a process. You can meet with failure, but so long as you enjoy the process of trying to obtain success, you would have obtained happiness.
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    Mar 4 2012: Happiness is when you find yourself are enough and you can start helping others.
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    Mar 4 2012: Happiness is the overcoming of barriers on the way towards a goal.
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      Mar 5 2012: well said pat. it is not all about reaching the goal but the main ingredient is overcoming the barriers on the way towards goal. in that sense in order to be happy challenge is essential. there is no free happiness to given to you out of the blue. you need to pay the price.
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        Mar 5 2012: I might add that one of the tools to happiness is to view things as they are rather than how they should be, otherwise it will drive you crazy for no reason, for example the rules state..., the plans show..., it is not fair...
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          Mar 5 2012: nice addition to your previous words of wisdom. thank you.
          do you by "viewing" mean "accepting" things the way they are ? is there a concept of contentment in your words, I doubt it but I had to ask.
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        Mar 5 2012: Goals or Purpose are everything.

        There are barriers in life if your view them as they are they do not persist, if you instead view them as they should be they will persist in your mind.

        What you don't confront, in other words don't view it as it is, will rent space in your mind from that point on.
  • Mar 4 2012: My dog would probably say "it's the absence of the human condition." It's just a hunch because he's happy all the time... unconditionally. But I suppose I could be barking up the wrong tree.

    As for me, I do not consider happiness to be something we can choose at all, at least not directly. Nor is it something "we can find", it needs to find us, that is to say we need to be open to it. No, to the contrary, I believe happiness exists in the absence of choice. I think it resides in those moments when the mind is not conflicted and we are free -- just to be.

    I see happiness as a byproduct, an effect vs. a cause one should pursue. It seems to me there are a slew of far more important causes to pursue than happiness. And, if we are pursuing the right one(s) i.e. on our intended path's, happiness will find us along the way.
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    Mar 2 2012: I read this sometime back in the 70's and still remember it: "Happiness is having what you want...and wanting what you have." I especially like the second part.
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      Mar 2 2012: Reminds me of this Gary...
      "Be happy with what you have and you will have plenty to be happy about"
      (Irish proverb)
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        Mar 4 2012: happiness is having everything your neighbours have ..... and much more!!!!
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    Mar 2 2012: Happiness is manifest by the good feeling you get when helping others. The action is helping others. The reward is the good feeling you get by helping others.
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      Mar 2 2012: Yes...well is a WONDERFUL cycle! It is a VERY Notable Solution:>)
  • Mar 2 2012: Happiness is:
    At much later stages in life I have realized that there are very few things that are really important. Very few.
    Happiness happens to be one of them.
    This "understanding life backwards", to me, makes happiness a choice.
    It is very common for one (myself and others) to comment on the very idea of "if I had to do it all over again", what would I choose to do differently? Many times 'choosing happiness' is one of those things.

    Otherwise, when I wrote, "Happiness happens to be one of them", that said it perfectly for me.
    Happiness happens. But only in the present because time goes so fast, it's hard to make it last, and
    now the present is, isn't.

    It is necessary to be present to receive the present of the present. More often than not, it is happiness, a state of aliveness, awareness and okayness in spite of what may be going on to the contrary.

    Yes, it can be used for deception but, then maybe it isn't happiness at all.
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      Mar 2 2012: I agree Random...happiness is a choice, and it's not simply a "random chance"...LOL:>)
      There's a great little book by that name (Happiness is a Choice) written by Berry Neil Kaufman.

      I also agree that to fully be aware of happiness/contentment, it is iimportant to "be" in the present moment...choose "a state of aliveness, awareness and okayness in spite of what may be going on..."
      Well said!

      I believe that if we are trying to decieve ourselves with a false sense of happiness, we know that on a deeper level, so we may not get the same feeling? Although, practice makes perfect, and there is talk about true happiness and synthetic happiness. Perhaps we need to start convincing ourselves sometimes that happiness/contentment is really possible, even in adverse situations?
  • Mar 2 2012: Happiness is many things... but most critically, it's the sustained alignment of purpose, desire and ability.
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    Mar 1 2012: Happiness is....It is your question, only you know. Tell us what your happiness is. Remember, it can be in any shape form or size. Any person, place or thing. Anything and everything.

    So tell us, what is happiness ?
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    Mar 1 2012: Happiness is an extremely basic concept. The problem with it is as human beings we often correlate our happiness or pending happiness with our expectations. When things or people don't live up to our expectations, we become unhappy.

    Perhaps we should free ourselves of expectations, embrace people and things for what they are and just be.

    Now THAT'S happiness!
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      Mar 2 2012: easy question and easy answer
      When not thinking about the reason for happiness
      Why think about the cause of happiness
      And do not think about the cause of the sadness
      Both a sense of home is different from person to person
  • Mar 1 2012: Happiness simply is, regardless of how you label it.

    What do you hope to learn by asking these questions?
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    Mar 1 2012: What I like most about the question is that it is so old, but not old fashioned.
    Try to find questions or topics which last so long - and are still relevant.

    Could the reason be that we all want answers why we are happiness, but never get them?
    Each generation asks anew; never could parents educate this... though this might be all we parents want: to make our children happy, explain them how this works and when they should be happy, that is satisfied.

    For my part - after years of philosophy studies - I decided to consciously enjoy / accpet being happy. When ever this happens, I put the moment of happiness before analysing and questioning it - and don´t ask.
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    Mar 1 2012: You become happy when you make someone else happy. Look up into philosophies of Asian cultures or Buddhism.
  • Mar 1 2012: Happiness is perception. We choose how we see things - one person may hate rain, the next love it. Both can change their thoughts about rain, and thereby change whether rain makes them happy. We can learn to be happy. Like anything worth learning, it takes hard work and determination to make it stick, and unlike riding a bicycle, we can forget how.

    Once, riding down the highway in a heavy downpour, with a business associate, we passed a man on the side of the highway changing a flat. At the same time, my associate and I spoke. He said "I bet he's pissed." I said " I bet he's glad it's only one flat." The bright side is there if we choose to look for it. Sometimes it's hard to find, sometimes we don't know what it is for weeks or years, but it's there. Happiness is habit of looking for it.
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    Mar 1 2012: To me, 'happiness' is basically the interval between a relatively bad mood and a better one. I'm in a pretty bad mood right now. If something positive were to happen in the course of the rest of my day, then I would move from this mood to a more elevated one, thus becoming happier. So I guess I believe that happiness is a psychological experience and not really a state of being.
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    Feb 29 2012: Happiness for me is an emotion, which we feel on accomplishment of some desires or thoughts which have resulted in actions as per our evaluation of achievements
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    Feb 29 2012: Happiness is a state of being; an understanding; an appreciation for the wonderful moments we all experience. Happiness is a choice. We can choose to be Happy or we can choose to be Sad. We can choose to be Joyful or we can choose to be Depressed. Happiness is perspective, it results from how we view the world. Happiness is the lofty goal which we all aspire to, however happiness is often fleeting... because we're also supposed to experience the full range of the other emotions which we are capable of. If we were always happy, how would we enjoy the thrill of a scary movie? Or prevent ourselves from eating food which has gone bad? (disgust) Or know that jumping off of a cliff without a parachute is a bad idea? (fear). Happiness is merely one of the wonderful emotions which we get to experience in life and "I'm Happy" that we're able to do so.
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    Feb 29 2012: One work defines happiness as....." a state of well-being that is characterized by relative permanence, by emotion ranging from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for it to continue. It thus differs from mere pleasure, which may come about simply through chance contact and stimulation."

    Happiness is discussed on TED alot...there are many wonderful talks on it, as well as conversations.

    Hope I have been helpful.

    Be Well
  • Mar 8 2012: Despite the many fine things said so eloquently by so many smart people I don't think Happiness is all that complicated. My opinion is that Happiness is a goal achieved in the pursuit of. Sounds like a cliche but, in my case, I find it to be true.
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    Mar 8 2012: I had commented earlier, and would like to share my take on HAPPINESS
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    Mar 7 2012: One can talk about brain chemicals and such, but these are influenced by outside factors and one's reactions the their environment. I posit that happiness is lack of unhappiness, if that makes sense. With no outside problems to cause us worry, anxiety, sadness and misery, it follows that what is left is happiness, or at least peace.
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    Mar 7 2012: As I read on some of the posts, I think happiness is relative and I agree with the statement that it "is a state of being." Each person can find happiness in different and random things from this world. In my case, my happiness is to own my time and have a nice work/life balance. I feel happy when I work at my own pace and put myself through challenges that I choose. Also, I am on a state of huge happiness when I am at home relaxing with my wife talking about life and future plans. Pretty random, huh?
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    Mar 6 2012: It is a state of mind.

    It has been shown that the more choice, the less happy we are (see TED talk about that).

    Happiness is also genetic, some people are or seem to be more happy than others and this sometimes is due to genes sequence. Sorry, you might me predetermined by nature to be either happy or not.

    If you believe in Relativity Theory (yes Einstein) there is no free will, so we are like we are and we cannot do anything about it. Happiness is just a predetermination.
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    Mar 6 2012: some of the claims in that website you introduced are very wrong. does SSRI usage leads to serotonin depletion ? I seriously doubt it, SSRI does not interfere with serotonin creation but they prohibit the re-putake of them in synaptic space. increasing the serotonin level in brain does not create a negative feedback because under the right supervision they never exceed the normal and required level.

    there is another claim which is 100% false. "suicide rates are actually higher
    after a depressed person has been on SSRI medication." wow. re-writing science !
    some of the SSRI medications have side effects that in rare cases suicidal thoughts is one of them that when supervised they can be changed to an alternative medication that will not have such side-effect. and actually what studies show is that using anti-depressants (such as SSRI family or SNRI,) actually benefit those with suicidal thoughts and saves many lives.

    It is a good idea to eat healthy and provide you body with all the nutrients that are needed for creation of hormones. but not all serotonin deficiencies are because of malnutrition. in fact the majority of cases do not. no matter how much tryptophan you get your brain will continue to keep serotonin levels the way they were before. actually that is necessary because brain automatically keeps hormone levels stable not letting any imbalance remain for long.

    another thing we should keep in mind is that serotonin produced in the body DOES NOT PASS THE BRAIN BARRIER. it means if you even inject yourself with serotonin it won't have any effect on brain serotonin levels and that is the reason I am surprised you say it is possible to track serotonin levels with urine test. there is no such thing. urine test will show the serotonin in your blood but brain synaptic levels are another story.

    as you said brain is still a mystery and it is not right to naively think that getting omega 3 supplements will do any good for an ocd case!
  • Mar 6 2012: I believe that Happiness is a state of mind, governed by ones feelings and these in turn are manifested expressly by the way live out our daily lives. I Believe that Happiness is a choice..I believe happiness comes from the ability to love and it conscious or un-conscious
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    Mar 6 2012: Man precisely because he is man, seeks happiness with all his actions. It simply happens that the desire of happiness is not always explicit, even though in reality it lives in the profoundest of the human decisions. Happiness is the ultimate end in which the different subjective ends intentionally converge, starting from which man decides how to live. The happy life is never desired as a means for reaching another form of living. The ethically good behavior consist specifically in living in accordance with duty, which does not necessarily coincide with happiness, or still more it exclude it totally as determining motivation of our action. But, to live according to ones duties is not other thing than to pursue a certain kind of happiness.
    When a subject decides to fulfill his duty, it is because he considers that his behavior will make him in some manner happy, perhaps he will feel the happiness of making the others happy.
  • Mar 6 2012: happiness is u do something for somebody but have no desire
  • Mar 6 2012: If anybody wants to be happy, s/he can provide happiness with his mind. Because, everything interest your happiness and everything can be occured by your mind. Sometimes, you can think that why i don't have a ferrari or better home, ok, you can want them but why you don't think that majority of people living in Africa don't have anything if only they don't have anything, they have been dying day by day.. If you are not happy, you should think your owned things, you can be happy in life.. Don't forget that everything cannot be what do you want..
  • Mar 5 2012: Happiness is a feeling of pleasure or contentment. It therefore is an elevated state of personal satisfaction. Whether it arrives from murdering someone or saving a life the resultant effect is the same, therefore it would have to be a variation in your own self programming that discerns what makes an individual happy.

    People undergo therapy to change how they program themselves and they may even undergo a paradigm change, so that the model they desire for happiness can match their existence.

    Physical exercise has been often quoted as a method to generate desirable feelings of self worth. The body is an intensely complicated construction and there are many drugs synthesised directly within the body that direct balance and aid living a healthy life. Exercise releases endorphins which are powerful, but safe drugs.

    No doubt happiness is a feeling that results from another such release of a chemical or electrical impulse. We have pleasure as a shortcut to immediate happiness, and our lifestyles more and more abuse this shortcut. We also have drugs that affect the state of mind and perhaps relieve anxiety etc. They may well work towards a goal, but they are no match for the fine balance that the body already incorporates.

    If natural selection was truly natural then some combinations of genes would be extinct by now, but medical science is challenged to try and solve problems for kudos, interest, money and the mere challenge. And here the debate becomes moral.

    Happiness therefore should remain a state that your external environment and the choices you make in life allow you to feel internally and perhaps express externally. It should not become something to manufacture and ingest like a protein shake. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own happiness and learn how to be self reliant to give themselves this critical feeling.
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    Mar 5 2012: Happiness is not a goal , you can't chase after it, to do so is like trying to catch the wind.
    Certainly having a goal helps in achieving a sense of happiness but can be limited in time.
    If the goal clashes with the values you hold, or is not not a sufficient outlet for the talents you posses then chances are happiness diminishes in size.
    Happiness is a side effect , like a drug that seems designed for one purpose the side effect sneaks up on you.
    The drug is Giving, the side effect is happiness.
    Only in this case the "side effect" turns out to be bigger than the initial intent.
  • Mar 5 2012: everyday I leave home at 6:40. and return around 9:30pm. is there happiness with me? I don't know why it is going on. please give me any advice to change my life.
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      Mar 5 2012: if you want to change your life you should put a certain purpose front of you,and try reach it,i sure you will feel changing.
      • Mar 6 2012: it is good advice for me to break my isolated mind on work. do you have your goal or certain purpose to change your life, achive your dream? I just want to listen to your way.
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      Mar 6 2012: Release the security of now. Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.
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    Mar 4 2012: i think happiness is not an experience..........its a mask of satisfaction..............real happiness is not in any thought,it is in your heart.....spiritual way of defining happiness is ditto as same as satisfaction.Like an man can look like an another individual by wearing his mask but the truth is he is not that individual.Happiness is just like that mask.

    let me give you an some poor families in India........if a mother just gets an breadcrumb for the supper she gives the whole bread to her innocent son and sleeps with an empty stomach feeling 'happy' that her son is not hungry.........that's the real think about it in that way and im sure you will get your answer
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    Mar 4 2012: Very simple. Happiness is something that make you happy ^^.
    It should be a state of being I think.
  • Mar 4 2012: ................a transient calm inside, an infusion of sensual stimuli from others or nature
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    Mar 4 2012: Happiness is the salary you get when you work for your genes.
  • Mar 4 2012: Well I've always thought that happiness was like peeing in your pants, everyone can see it but only you can feel the warmth
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    Mar 4 2012: Happiness is the state of having internally consistent dispositions, that are also consistent with one's abilities, resources, and the dispositions of others.

    While a perfect consistency does not exist in any of us, some of us have greater consisntency than others, and we can all work on increasing our level of consisteny.
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    Mar 4 2012: Happiness is the description given to a state of mind free from stress. If nothing causes discontent, worry or instabilty of mind then this results in happiness! I believe that the more intelligent and analytical one becomes then this invevitably lessens the capacity to experience happiness. There are simply always too many configurations and forecasts of ones position and future to be totaly at ease to the point of happiness. Maybe it might be true that the less aware one is then the more likely one is to experience happiness. The saying comes to my mind here .. "ignorance is bliss" I believe this substantiates what I am saying. I have on occaision experienced almost inexplicable moments of amazing happiness, almost a "high" which appears suddenly and delivers an incredible contentment. It doesnt last long then dissapears leaving me to my normal numbed state of mind where I cope normaly. I have speculated as to why this happens and because I always get this when there is a deep blue dusk over the sky I have arrived at the conclusion that perhaps it is related to a moment in my baby days where for some reason I experienced an extreme sense of stability and warmth in a moment where one of my parents had me safely secured in a scene involving a dusk! It is worth exploring the possibility that some subconscious memories haunt outr minds and provide such wonderfull moments like this. Of course it works in the opposite manner too where childhood traumas render us in difficulty emotionaly in later life. What is happiness? it is thereforre that freaky moment of ultimate dopamine release in the brain at a moment of subcoscious zen in relation to a childhood memory. A rush of dopamine!!!
  • Mar 4 2012: For me, happiness is knowing that you are enough, that what you have is enough, and that the world provides enough for you.
  • Mar 3 2012: I am new to TED, indeed this is my first post, so "hello" to anyone who decides to read this.

    To answer the question 'what is happiness' I would have to answer 'it depends who you are'.

    For me, it is when I have made a list of everything in my head (i.e. I have sought to take control of my life) which then allows me to reflect that I am very lucky to be where I am including being excited for the future despite its inevitable frustrations and disappointments.

    As this is a relatively recent experience I am guessing that previously I was not as happy as I could have been.
  • Mar 3 2012: As with many of us who posted in this thread, I agree that happiness is at once a choice to look at the positives, to be content, a state of being.

    Personally, I also view happiness as consciously hoping, believing and acting. To consciously hope, both for myself and for others; to see the beauty in all things and appreciate them, living or not. Then to believe in these and that I have the ability to effect change and to act on it.

    Of course, it is not possible to control some things but I believe that in small ways, we can affect them. After all, we are only about six handshakes away from everyone else :)
  • Mar 3 2012: I recently read an interview about happiness called: The science behind the smile", and the interviewer, Gardiner Morse, asked Prof. Daniel Gilbert about the possible ways to measure happiness. The Prof. answered that it is similar to the way that the eye doctor measures your sight, for those who have glasses, by challenge-response "protocol". First, the doctor tries one pair of lenses and then asks the patient about the feeling; afterward he tries another pair, and so on and so forth.
    Therefore, to answer the question what is happiness, we need to answer what is a feeling in general, such as eye-sight.
    Another interesting approach to this question is how happiness controls our body. Meaning, the muscles on our face are controlled by happiness, and the shivering or the vibe we feel when we extremely happy are also controlled by happiness.
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    Mar 3 2012: ''Happiness is what destroy the world and at the same time what builds it '' It's a pure contradiction .
  • Mar 3 2012: i feel like the word has been applied to so many feelings/ states of being that it's become virtually open to almost any positive emotion or state of being. Granted, it does have a basic meaning, but as shown in this threat, the word is interpreted on all different levels and ways.

    One important thing I came to realize is the purpose of emotions. In fact it was one of the most enlightening things ever. To communicate to others, motivate, and communicate to self.

    Happiness as an emotion can therefore be pretty well quantified. But in the meta sense, well, that's up to this thread to figure out.

    *Sorry for my somewhat negative tone, I have a bit of a headache.
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    Mar 2 2012: For me,it's a sign that i'm following the path i'm supposed to in life.Everytime i lose happiness (i mean as a general state of grace,we all have our ups and downs) it means that i do something wrong and i should change it.
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      Mar 4 2012: This is interesting. So it seems that you are attempting to navigate some type of highway of destiny , but, you have to make the right moves for this destiny to prevail. Hmmmmm so if there is a path you are supposed to follow .... like the real way to go... but you can get it wrong..... doesnt this set you up for a life of worry? One would expect so. But.... and this is where it gets freaky... I have experienced strange things in my life. I believe I developed the power of positivity to a real high in my thirties where I could believe something would happen and it just did! I took it that these coincidences where simply signs that I was on the right path in my life. Im still hoping at the age of 47 that natures idea and my idea of my destination are in sync. Happiness for me is related to the future self I have prescribed for myself, the futurre self I sooooo want to be my destiny. Im probably setting myself up for a suicide! lolzzz! Im already on anti depressants!
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        Mar 4 2012: Everytime i do little steps towards the goal i think i am supposed to achieve and yes,if i get it wrong my life will be miserable, i'll lost hope and i'll die spiritualy dead.Generally i don't believe in coincidences and luck at all,i believe that everything happens for a bigger reason.As for your experience,i think you attracted those 'coincidences' with your positivity-your energy in simple words!As for Happiness i do not endorse the future self idea in the way that i believe the destiny is already there,we just have to find the means to get there (that's Free Will in my opinion).So, a scenario trying hard to reach my future self (a self that i would think would be me,i wouldn't know for sure anyway) would possibly stop me from living every day and every moment of my life at full.
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        Mar 4 2012: Dear Basil,
        I sincerely hope you are not setting yourself up for an adverse action/reaction in the future!

        I agree with Manos, that living every day...every moment is where I experience happiness/contentment.

        I do not agree that "if I get it wrong my life will be miserable". I think that's where we set ourselves up for disappointment/discontent/unhappiness. We may have a wonderful plan for the future, and if it doesn't go as planned, what do we have left?

        Happiness/contentment is an underlying feeling we can have in our heart and mind always...regardles of the twists and turns of the life experience. I believe that life is about learning, growing and evolving as a human being, so whatever is happening in my life (cancer, near fatal head/brain injury, etc.) I am happily, contentedly willing to open my heart and mind to whatever I am learning in the moment:>)
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      Mar 5 2012: Dear Manos,

      what a wonderful idea to use happiness (as it truly is) as a measure of moving in the right direction. if you are doing what you love, you are happy, if you are not happy then you are doing what you don't like to do inside. there is no such thing as destiny. future is not written. we are the ones building it every passing second.
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    Mar 2 2012: Pourquoi te poses-tu la question...?
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    Mar 2 2012: For me, it's a state of being and that state of being is different for everyone. Interesting argument by Caroline West that we shouldn't use the term "happiness" as a catch-all.
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    Mar 2 2012: ... Finding joy in the simplicities. In a sunny afternoon walking to the grocery store, or seeing a dad play with his kids, or eating food at home with friends. Appreciating life's simple gifts and creations will always bring joy. Its corny, but SO true.
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    Mar 2 2012: Scientifically established - 50% of HAPPINESS is a direct result of our DNA - 10 % as a result of wealth and health ( now that is a shocker !!) and the remaining 40% as a result of attitude, upbringing etc: in short uncharted.

    'khidmat' means Social Service
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    Mar 2 2012: Happiness, like everything else, is fluid. We (should) continuously grow and evolve--which means our expectations and desires evolve. Our idea of happiness is not static--it changes...and that's a good thing--it's really the process of growth and our attitude towards it that ensures happiness. Though, not in isolation.I believe that our relationships with ourselves and others is what determines our happiness--do our relationships promote or inhibit our personal growth? If those relationships that we hold most dear sponsor our growth and give us the freedom to grow in the ways we were meant to grow, and if we give ourselves that same freedom...and if the society in which we live supports the direction of our growth---then we have a shot of finding true happiness here on this earth.

    Of course, it doesn't stop there--we have to be instrumental to the growth of order to be truly happy, we have to go beyond what we get out of the process of individuals, and consider how we contribute to the growth process of those around us. Do we support or inhibit it? In what way? Can our own growth process encourage that of another...these are the things that lead to happiness, in my opinion.
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    Mar 2 2012: Forever Happiness is all about Self Contentment, Feeling of Fullfillment. Doesnt come withmoney, doent come with sucess..
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    Mar 2 2012: easy question and easy answer
    When not thinking about the reason for happiness
    Why think about the cause of happiness
    And do not think about the cause of the sadness
    Both a sense of home is different from person to person
  • Mar 2 2012: It is a feeling, a state of being. I hope you are feeling happy right now. Happiness is contagious. Elevating the joy level of our population is my on-going goal. Seek positive. Find positive. Happy Today. Power to the positive!
  • Mar 1 2012: Happiness is 'that moment' when all you wish for or want, equates to what you have/get/achieve. Naturally, all we want is something positive! so when you talk of happiness by itself, it is defined by that one moment of this fulfillment. But looking at some kid and saying he is happy because he has that toy /he is playing with a new toy is not what happiness is. The latter is more a rejoicing of the gift/possession combined with a sense of gratitude toward the giver. His happiness was seriously short lived. However, we fail to get this right and we stay confused about the concept of ' I am Happy'.
    There is nothing to feel bad about this can find reasons to wish for something as silly as plate full of strawberries and be happy. so in effect, it is creating a wish and seeing it getting fulfilled. Once you are done with the material fulfillment with strawberries, gifts and toys you will realize that sometimes creating a wish for 'nothing' and enjoying each moment as it is, also equates happiness. Don't you enjoy sitting blank at times and feel good about it?
    Not too philosophical...but it is that simple. Unfortunately we struggle with it, not always though.
  • Mar 1 2012: do you need the answer of that five questions or just our opinion?
    to answer to these questions might be as easy as telling our opinion.

    We pursue happiness throughout life just like we live the life without knowing what it really is.
    many definitions, expressions, sayings, songs, poems about life and happiness. which one is true?
    "All of them". you might think as the answer

    "if you want to be happy, Be!" - Leo Tolstoy.
    Indeed, it is true. Be here on earth. be alive, be who you are, maybe it is the part of happiness.

    but hey, Tolstoy lived last century, we are in 21st.
    one might say: "if you want to be happy, Have"

    To be or to have, that is the question.
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    Mar 1 2012: It can be interpreted as a specific state of mind that is created by brain neuro-chemical balance of happiness including its special hormones like dopamine and lacking the neuro-electrical signals of danger and emotional alarm coming from Amygdala.

    what causes this is different from person to person but it is important to find what triggers yours. there is no unique recipe for everybody. one may achieve happiness buy marrying beloved , other may find it in creation of an art work.

    even if you find out what triggers happiness in you and you were successful in achieving it, preserving this state is another story. happiness because of its unstable nature does not seem to remain for long and soon it will be replaced by other states of mind and the next tournament will begin.
  • Mar 1 2012: Happiness is a state of being.
    Being contented to simple things and your life.
    appreciation and acceptance,
    free from guilt,pain and anger
    most importantly, being free and true

    When you are free and true,you will know
    when you have the knowledge,you will see
    when you see,you will find the secret
    the secret,is love
    love is God
    God is within us,therefore we are all connected or linked.

    To love is to have respect,dignity and most importantly
    to have humility
  • Mar 1 2012: It is all of those things. All of those things coupled with bliss.......
    True bliss is your gift to the world.
    Hard work and sacrifice are non-existent in the face of personal bliss.
    That seems both mediocre and a little campy, but the truth often is.
    I'm still looking for it.
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    Mar 1 2012: happiness is creating life energy with the things sorround you that you love and which has great importance in your life and than share this life energy together. This thing can be your partner (boy friend), your family, your pets or even non emotional living objects which contain life energy. But you have to be candid and creative with your communications with these things that you really want them make feel good means you really want to increase their life energy. So this life energy aoutomatically turn you back and make you feel happy anti aging.
  • Feb 29 2012: what is the purpose of looking for the definition? there are variety of those feel it. now I feel better than when I had more money and good position in past time.
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      Mar 1 2012: I totally agree with you. although definition of happiness may cause or be the cause of an anthropological research, it is important to actually create the sensation and live with it.
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    Feb 29 2012: There are over 7 billion people out there - and each and every one of them could tell you their definition and views on happiness.
    The funny thing is how extremely diametrically opposite those views can go - for one person just being alive or trying to save lives can mean being constantly happy, and yet another person can find happiness in hurting people.
    My opinion about every possible emotion that a human being can go through is... that it is always up to us, and how we want to interpret those emotions and later on accept them.
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    Feb 29 2012: What you see on a child's face....
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    Feb 29 2012: Lauren, To your question ... Yes. Things that bring me happiness may never register on anyone elses scale. Sun rises, the sweet inocent smile of a child, being near my wife, the inocent love of a grandchild, helping others, knowing who I am, satisfied that I have given my best, this could go on forever.

    Happiness in internal. I can, without shame, cry at a tender moment, laugh with joy or even at myself. What makes me happy may result from a memory or the moment.

    I wish you happiness in any form you find it.

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    Feb 29 2012: Absorption in what you are doing, sometimes referred to as flow.

    In that state no space is left for negativity. The sad thing is that it's not till the absorption has gone that you realise you have been happy.
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    Feb 28 2012: Happiness is an emotional experince that most often is influenced by a mixture of attitude, but to a greater extent by outside forces. Joy, by comparison, is a state of being. Both are positive and can do much for health and well- being.

    Happiness is that positive state when things are going well: example, heard a funny joke, kids are behaving, spouse is openly affectionate, co-workers respect your work and boss likes your ideas. This all goes out the window when your spouse is giving you the raised hand, the kids are rebelling, your co-workers think you're stupid, your boss steals your idea for his own, and the joke isn't funny because it's on you. You can still have joy, but you sure ain't happy!
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    Feb 28 2012: Hi Lauren...I also asked a similar question in : How do you A) Define HAPPINESS and B) Sustain it? There were some very interesting responses that you may want to look at...

    With a smile,
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    Feb 28 2012: Happiness is an emotion experienced when one has enough of the stuff one wants to outweigh the unhappiness caused by the stuff one wants but does not have. The emotional intensity is directly proportional to the ratio of stuff possessed to stuff longed for. Stuff can be physical, emotional or imaginary. America's government considers the pursuit of happiness to be an inalienable right of all its citizens.
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    Feb 28 2012: I think that a sustainable feeling of happiness can only come about if it includes the acceptance of sadness.

    It is the presence of sadness that makes the happiness more profound and pleasurable.

    It's a bit like light and dark - we can only perceive one in the presence of the other.

    Or in music - the silent passages are just as meaningful as the louder ones.
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    Feb 28 2012: Its the chemicals jumping around. The more the merrier. Just a matter of what gets them flowing.
  • Feb 28 2012: I agree.

    It is a feeling comes from within.

    Yes, I know, sometimes material things do bring some of this out, but it doesn't mean that it should go when material things are gone..

    "Be happy."
    A popular phrase. But let's think about what it suggests. It suggests that you are in control of happiness. You "can be happy".
  • Feb 28 2012: It can be an attitude. I think that in many cases, even when things seem to be really bad. we can freeze. And we can choose to be happy. Meditation can be a way to get there.
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    Feb 28 2012: I can only answer that question from personal experience,from an individual point of view.

    Happiness is the predawn hour when the world is just about to wake,i don't know why,maybe it's body rhythms but i always get that "Whats today going to bring" feeling.