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Author Topic: Happiness  (Read 4570 times)
Finn
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« Topic Start: December 03, 2007, 10:15:49 pm »

What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?
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« Reply #1: December 03, 2007, 10:46:08 pm »

What is happiness?

<snippage>

I'll start with a Buddhist proverb: "There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way."

And I'll say this (because it came up earlier today, elsewhere): IMO it's erroneous to equate "happiness" with "success." Definitions being what they are, I personally am quite happy, but I'm not sure I could be called "successful." I have a roof over my head (it leaks), food in the cupboards (not what I *want* to have, but what I *need*), a dependable car (2007, way better than the 1981 I was driving this time last year), and an amazing daughter I'm raising on my own (mostly, her father's in NY and has been since before she was born; my sweetie has two of his own, one my DD's age, one four years younger). Happy? I surely am.

Am I *always* happy? Hell no. There are times I'm utterly unhappy. But the pendulum always comes back. It can't help itself.
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« Reply #2: December 03, 2007, 10:52:04 pm »

And I'll say this (because it came up earlier today, elsewhere): IMO it's erroneous to equate "happiness" with "success." 

I wasn't equating the two in my question (or I wasn't meaning to), but you're right. Too many people do.
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« Reply #3: December 03, 2007, 10:57:48 pm »

And finally, is happiness a choice?

Brilliant question. And I would say that yes, happiness can often be a choice. I don't mean that you say you're going to be happy and, magically, you suddenly are.
I mean it in more of a psychological way. You try and have a positive outlook, you try and see the glass half full, and when something does go wrong you deal with it, you don't hide in a corner. I think that you can strive for happiness and sometimes just the striving itself can grant happiness.
Unfortunately this isn't to say that I don't believe life can deal you a bad hand, because I do. Sometimes you can strive for happiness each and every day, and it doesn't happen. Whether this is because of your circumstances, or your mental state, can be argued and personally I have no answer to it.
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« Reply #4: December 04, 2007, 06:32:04 am »

What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?

I think there's a difference between happiness and joy.

Happiness, to me, is the fleeting sensation.  It's what you feel when you get a high score, when you get something you want, etc.  It's wonderful, don't get me wrong - but it's fleeting, and it's something you always have to work at.

Joy is longer-term.  It's a way of looking at the world and your life, it's a way of being in the world.  It's knowing that you've got what you want most, and being content with that.

Happiness, to me, is the jumping up and down thing.  Joy is the slow smile that just can't seem to go away. Cheesy

And yes, joy is a choice, to an extent.  Especially because if it's a choice you make (as opposed to, say, success .. or even happiness), you make choices more likely TO bring you joy.
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« Reply #5: December 04, 2007, 07:40:59 am »

I think there's a difference between happiness and joy.

And I agree whole-heartedly.  This popped up in my novel - one of my ancillary characters shocked me by uttering it, but she was right.

I have learned to find joy in birdsong, a cool breeze, snow, sun, a foal's whinny, the smile of a grocery clerk.  There are still anxieties to deal with, but I'm a totally different person from five years ago.

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« Reply #6: December 04, 2007, 07:49:50 am »

And I'll say this (because it came up earlier today, elsewhere): IMO it's erroneous to equate "happiness" with "success." Definitions being what they are, I personally am quite happy, but I'm not sure I could be called "successful." I have a roof over my head (it leaks), food in the cupboards (not what I *want* to have, but what I *need*), a dependable car (2007, way better than the 1981 I was driving this time last year), and an amazing daughter I'm raising on my own (mostly, her father's in NY and has been since before she was born; my sweetie has two of his own, one my DD's age, one four years younger). Happy? I surely am.
Am I *always* happy? Hell no. There are times I'm utterly unhappy. But the pendulum always comes back. It can't help itself.

 Smiley  Totally agree. Being content with who you are, what you have, what you can (cannot) achieve equals a peace within. To me that is happiness.


I think there's a difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness, to me, is the fleeting sensation.  It's what you feel when you get a high score, when you get something you want, etc.  It's wonderful, don't get me wrong - but it's fleeting, and it's something you always have to work at.
Joy is longer-term.  It's a way of looking at the world and your life, it's a way of being in the world.   Cheesy
And yes, joy is a choice, to an extent.  Especially because if it's a choice you make (as opposed to, say, success .. or even happiness), you make choices more likely TO bring you joy.

I would define it the other way around...happiness is long term, joy is of the moment - but no matter how you define it, I agree that a happy/joyful state of mind is a choice. 

I know many cynical people who always look on the gloom and doom side, don't vote, don't fight for changes, don't recycle, don't look for a better job or follow a dream, etc etc. because they think it is all futile anyway.  I also know people who have a very negative outlook and seem to have nothing but bad luck come their way, it's almost as if they seek it out by putting themselves in negative situations. AAAhhh! Both these types make me want to run screaming from the room!

I also know the Little Miss Sunshine people who are constantly brimming with happiness, and never have anything bad to say and always see the best in people and situations - well, that isn't realistic either. (And can get just as annoying)

I guess I would say that to me, looking at things honestly as they are and having a realistic outlook gives me a sense of balance and makes me feel harmonious, which I equate with happiness/joy. 

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« Reply #7: December 06, 2007, 07:27:07 pm »

What is happiness?
It is indeed quite difficult to define happiness, without using synonyms such as joy, pleasure, etc. (And imo, happy/joyful is the same difference!) To be happy is truly an intangible thing, and like Starglade mentioned, is not interchangeable with what most people call success.

Quote
Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?
I think it is possible to be happy over the long term. Little dips occasionally are completely necessary, however, because sadness puts happiness into relief.

Quote
And finally, is happiness a choice?
Practically *everything* is a choice. Wink
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #8: December 08, 2007, 02:47:04 pm »

What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?

I think happiness is a by product of heath.  Be it mental, or physical.  When one has their ducks in order, happiness just occurs.  It's when stuff falls apart, be it bad seams, or fragile fabric then unhappiness follows; be it through sorrow, anger, stress, whatever.
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #9: January 11, 2008, 08:04:47 pm »

And finally, is happiness a choice?

I think happiness can be a choice, but it's a choice you have to know how to actively make. For some people, doing what needs to be done to reach happiness - whether it's a mental action or a physical action - is confusing, hard to figure out, and generally discouraging. I've been through many hard times where, despite wanting to do what was necessary to be happy, I didn't KNOW what was necessary.

And as a side note, I think it's quite possible to be content even while feeling a bit of sorrow. I think some things that hurt us will never completely go away, but joy can permeate even those sadnesses.
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« Reply #10: January 11, 2008, 08:10:21 pm »

.
Practically *everything* is a choice. Wink

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« Reply #11: January 11, 2008, 08:54:22 pm »

What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?

Happiness can be a goal in life, and can be something fleeting.  I suppose it depends on what type of happiness you are after.  And you have to realize what makes you happy for the moment, then what makes you truly happy.

I think happiness is a state of mind, so yes, I do think that happiness is a choice. F'ex you would say to yourself "Today, I am going to be happy no matter what happens", or "Today, I will find happiness within myself".

I hope this makes some sense Smiley
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« Reply #12: February 21, 2008, 01:16:40 am »

What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?

For me, happiness is an active state of being. It's what I feel when I am able to express my basic nature. It's also a matter of quieting the negative self-talk, especially when things get in the way of me expressing myself. That said, the main thing that gets in the way is my own perceptions and choices. My fears of other's possible reactions, or my lack of willingness to accept the consequences of self expression. I know that the opinions of others and such externalities should not be a source of happiness or sadness, they are truly matters of indifference, but I am not a sage that can respond as I know I should at all times.

Cheers

BGMarc
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« Reply #13: February 02, 2009, 09:26:52 pm »

I'll start with a Buddhist proverb: "There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way."
I like this very much, and it seems in line with my understanding of Aristotle's take on happiness, which I tend to agree with.  Aristotelian happiness (eudaimonia in the original Greek) was a constant process of pursuing happiness.  Since, according to Aristotle, the "achievable" form of happiness was permanent, one could not truly be judged "blessed" or "happy" until after their deaths, for the "Happy" man could still suffer some tragedy and fall into misery.  It was only possible, then, to pursue happiness, and live as best one could, and the man who did not stray from the path (or was not forced off by circumstance) in the end would be deemed happy.  It is by remaining on the path, by keeping one's spirit, by doing good, and in all ways seeking to be happy that one experiences happiness.  By this measure, true happiness is no fleeting emotion, though the emotion may be a part of the path.  Also by this measure, it is not a choice, but a series of choices, for the path never ends, save with death.

On the whole, it is similar to his [Aristotle's] thoughts on Justice, where Justice is defined as the pursuit of Justice.  A man is not deemed justly punished based on the punishment he receives, but based on the careful pursuit of those administering the punishment to try to punish in proportion to the wrong done.  The US legal system would, I think be deemed Just because it guarantees the right to a fair trial by Jury, and the right to be represented by an attorney, and overseen by a judge, with respect to evidence.  It is the process of the trial that makes the justice, not the sentence passed.  Similarly, Happiness is not what one feels, but what one does to achieve Happiness.
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