What exactly is happiness? Am I happy? Are the people around me happy? Fyodor Dostoevsky worked: “A man is unhappy because he does not know he is happy.”
Happiness… we all want it; for most of us, it is the meaning of life… ..to be happy. However, how we experience happiness and achieve it is very different and subjective. Precisely because of this, we can say that happiness has different definitions. The definition of happiness that we know is this: “Happiness is a state of mind characterized by love, joy, and contentment.” If we listen to philosophers, happiness is “a state of complete satisfaction and absence of all desire.” Is that really so? Happiness is relative; even great thinkers interpret it in their own way. The United Nations has declared March 20, the first day of spring, as the International Day of Happiness to emphasize the importance of happiness and prosperity for us humans.
Explanations of Happiness
Let’s go a little over the history of the interpretation of happiness or the description of happiness. We will find out how different opinions were about it. Greek philosophers, for example, believed that you come to happiness through moral action. This means that virtues such as reason, justice, and modesty should lead a person to a state of bliss, contentment, and happiness. Epicurus (the Greek philosopher after whom his philosophical system is named) believed that enjoyment on earth was the greatest good. This is what people should strive for and subordinate to all other values. The greatest evil is pain, and it is imperative to avoid it.
Am I Happy According to the Christian Definition of Happiness?
Medieval Christianity believed that happiness is unnecessary and that we experience true happiness in the afterlife, that is, after death, when we become closer to God. But this happiness also depends on how we have earned it during our lifetime. This means that happiness “in this world” is irrelevant to Christianity. Only the deeds bring us post-mortem bliss and happiness… and paradise. Modern Christianity, however, believes that heaven and hell reflect the state of the human soul, which built them for life and earned them, either by good deeds such as goodness, justice, and mercy or by bad ones. When we look at these principles, it is clear that all people strive for happiness, regardless of obstacles in life. The greatest virtue in Christianity is love, and happiness is subordinate to it, which means that it is not happiness that is most important but that we love someone. Christianity also explains that bonding to material things that we believe will bring us happiness is meaningless and does not allow us to do so in the long run. Only love for others, and God makes us happy.
Some Thoughts of Philosophers About Happiness
If we take a look at the thoughts of philosophers: Immanuel Kant believes that happiness is not the most important human value but the fulfillment of the moral law… which brings him very close to Christian philosophy. According to him, this would mean that if we had to choose between personal happiness and moral requirements, the latter would be more critical, even if they would not bring us a sense of happiness.
The Buddha, however, said that the cause of our unhappiness, unrealistic desires, and unacceptable suffering, when we stop attaching ourselves to material goods and things, we will stop suffering and become happy. This sentence has some truth, but… we cannot live without desires, even if they make us unhappy. Just what a life it would be… without desire.
In Greek mythology, the god of fortune was Kairos (which means “right moment”), who was the youngest son of Zeus. He is portrayed as a naked young man who moves quickly and inaudibly among people and, at the same time, allows them to touch him. He who tries and succeeds will be happy. Kairos invites people to courageous deeds and, therefore, the “right moment” because it is lost forever if you do not touch it when you have the opportunity. So… happiness is not always a matter of fate, but it depends on ourselves… whether we dare to capture the “right moment” or prefer to miss it. And one more thing… .. we can’t always be happy. If we were always happy, we would not know how to devote ourselves to any other feeling.
How Do I Recognize Am I Happy?
Is this a moment you need to know how to recognize? We are happy when we fall in love when we graduate, when we get married, and when our child is born. Some are happy when their bank account increases; the higher the sum, the happier they are. However, this moment does not last forever, it fades, and only satisfaction remains. And what we then feel every day is not happiness; it is satisfaction. However, because we currently live in a world where it is essential that you are happy in every way, and therefore we seek it, we forget about other people and their needs. Because we are so narcissistically focused only on our pursuit of happiness, we are very superficial in genuine contact with other people. In this way, our happiness will be short-lived. Because loving someone, we respect them is definitely part of our happiness. And happiness is black and white… in addition to white, there must also be black. Fortunately, there is no recipe or formula; it all depends on us. We cannot and should not expect to be always happy or to be made happy by others. In this way, we become frustrated and unhappy.
Am I happy? Do I love someone?
If we want to be happy, we must first love each other; we must not have unrealistic desires and expect others to appreciate us more if we do this and that. This is not right; let’s prefer values that mean a lot to us… of course, material goods are also essential… we just can’t do without them. But it is not the most important thing that we put all our work and effort into expensive cars to be happy. And sometimes, very little is enough to make us happy and content… we just have to pay attention to it. Happiness is our choice, so let’s be careful.
“Happiness requires freedom; freedom requires courage” (Author unknown)