It seems like an odd question, but is it? Do you know how to define happiness? Do you think happiness is the same thing to you as it is to others?
What’s the point of it all? Does it even make a difference in our lives?
In fact, happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives, and it can have a huge impact on the way we live our lives.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence (…) Happiness depends upon ourselves” — Aristotle
When asked to define the term, people emphasize different aspects of this elusive state. Indeed, happiness is somewhat ambiguous and can be defined from different perspectives. Some people, especially those who are highly committed to their religious faith, view happiness in ways that emphasize virtuosity, reverence, and enlightened spirituality. Others see happiness as primarily contentment — the inner peace and joy that come from deep satisfaction with one’s surroundings, relationships with others, accomplishments, and oneself. Still others view happiness mainly as pleasurable engagement with their personal environment — having a career and hobbies that are engaging, meaningful, rewarding, and exciting. These differences, of course, are merely differences in emphasis. Most people would probably agree that each of these views, in some respects, captures the essence of happiness.
Happiness is an enduring state of well-being involving satisfaction in the pleasant, good, and meaningful aspects of life.
· The 7 Habits of Happy People
· Acts of Kindness
· Exercise and Physical Well being
· Spiritual Engagement and Meaning
· Strengths and Virtues
· Positive Mindset: Optimism, Mindfulness and Gratitude
4 LEVELS OF HAPPINESS
Aristotle distinguished between four different levels of happiness.
1. Happiness level 1: Laetus. Happiness from material objects
Happiness at the first level is simply about sensual gratification based on things / something external. This kind of happiness can be intense but is short-lived.
People focusing exclusively on level 1 risk to hit a crisis where life seems shallow and without meaning. In other words, there is a limit to the pleasure you get from a new car, a holiday, a nice meal etc. if this is the ONLY source of happiness. As long as you don’t forget the other levels there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of level 1 that life can provide!
2. Happiness level 2: Felix. Ego gratification. Happiness from comparison: being better, more admired than others etc. You feel this type of happiness when you for example win in sports or get a promotion.
Everyone likes admiration and winning to some extent, but people varies a lot regarding how strong their competitive nature is. For some it’s everything, for others it’s just a very minor and very short-lived pleasure. Happiness from continuous comparison with other people is unstable because no one (or very few people) can win in all domains of life all the time. In case of failure, focusing too much on this level can lead to frustrations and a sense of worthlessness. Excessive focus on comparison and self-promotion also risk to alienate the people around you and can lead to self-absorption, jealousy, cynicism, and the oppression of others.
Happiness level 3: Beatitudo. The happiness from doing good for others and making the world a better place.
This level of happiness is based on the human desire for connection, goodness, meaning, compassion, friendship and unity. Some has summed it up as simply: “Love!” As this level we move away from ourselves to focus on the well-being of others. In essence our own happiness depends also on the happiness of others.
Level 3 happiness is more lasting and, for most people, provides a deeper feeling of meaning than level 1 and 2. The limits of level 3 happiness can be said to be human imperfections. Nobody is perfect and human relationships involve disappointment, jealousy, and the risk to be hurt. That’s part of life.
Happiness level 4: Sublime Beatitude. Ultimate, perfect happiness
Level 4 happiness is the most difficult to describe. It involves a search for fullness and perfection. It has to do with finding the right balance between the other levels… and then some. Psychologists have labelled this desire for ultimate happiness a call for connection to the larger universe or a sort of transcendence.
Some fulfill this desire through spirituality or religion, others through philosophy, art, or scientific endeavors to find answers to some of the big questions of life, human existence and the universe. There’s no definitive or universal answer. You have to find your own calling!