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What Is Happiness and Do We Cause Our Own Happiness

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By lucypope1572
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What is happiness and do we cause our own happiness?

What is happiness, how do we know when we have achieved happiness if it is not measured. If it is not profitable then why is it so important to so many people? And if it is not tradable then how do we achieve it, do we cause our own happiness.
So what is happiness “The quality or state of being happy. Is the dictionary definition but then what does being happy mean? Happiness is arguably the strongest and most powerful feeling we can experience but, how do people understand happiness? Philosophers have an understanding of happiness and have boiled it down to two reasons hedonia and eudaimonia. Hedonia means happiness is the polar opposite of suffering; the presence of happiness indicates the absence of pain. Because of this, hedonists believe that the purpose of life is to maximize happiness, which minimizes misery. Eudemonia defines happiness as the pursuit of becoming a better person. Eudaimonists do this by challenging themselves intellectually or by engaging in activities that make them spiritually richer people. The main distinction between these two is that hedonia uses the idea that happiness is achieved by external things whereas eudaimonia believes that happiness comes from within us.
Let’s take a closer look at the first idea. Hedonia which states that happiness is achieved by external things, such as things we want or already own. A flash car, a three story house or having lots of money, after all what person does not experience positive emotions at the thought of winning the lottery. One example which proves this theory is a survey carried out between people in poverty and millionaires. Each person was asked to rate their happiness on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 meaning they weren’t happy at all). Poverty stricken participants rated their happiness on average as a 2 whereas the millionaire’s scores were between a 5 and a 7. “Money frees you from doing things you dislike. - Groucho Marx”. Now this study may show you that yes money can bring happiness, but many psychologists believe that you will grow tired of money and what it can bring you because people have an amazing ability to adapt to their situations which means we would quickly grow accustomed to the life of luxury. So if money can’t buy happiness then what can?
If money can’t guarantee happiness then what about success, say in a job or your goals. Success in a job is different for everyone but often it will always link in with a person’s goal in life, like the question were asked when we were little “what do you want to be when you grow up”. While yes most of us arnt doing the job that we wanted when we were young we still have a goal to attain our ‘perfect job’. It’s our purpose in life. The purpose is what causes us happiness. An example of this would be Charles Schultz an American cartoonist who after finishing his well know comic strip ‘peanuts’ died shortly after, without a purpose he was lost. To many people purpose means what they were put in the world for. This makes us happy? Can this also mean we cause our own happiness?
The eudaimonia approach to happiness shows us that happiness comes from within us, much more like a choice, like Buddhism. Which sees the pursuit of happiness as our life goal and teaches techniques of mental development to achieve this. Rather than external stimuli. The Dalai Lama, goes on to describe that “on its own no amount of technological development can lead to lasting happiness. What is almost always missing is a corresponding inner development.” Meaning again that happiness comes from within us. By reading this quote it may also show that even though happiness comes from within us, we have to learn it the “inner development” part. This displays that because we have to learn to be happy and chose to be happy, we may cause our own happiness.
I read an article once on happiness from the perspective of a psychiatrist who said the question he gets the most is ‘when am I going to be happy’ this may show that in many people’s opinions happiness is something we don’t cause ourselves and that maybe we are just the subjects to it, it is a feeling beyond our grasp. “Happiness has more to do with broadening your perspective” rather than “trying to annihilate anxiety and other disturbances.” Says one psychiatrist. He also added that we tend denigrate the pursuit of happiness like it’s something shallow or superficial. This may show that we denigrate it because it’s not something that we have power over and that we can’t cause it.

In comparison to this there is another article called “12 questions to ask yourself about happiness”. One of the questions was what makes you happiest this question alone shows us that yes we do cause our own happiness. To add to this the purpose of this article is possibly to help the reader become happy “it's great to aspire to happiness, but it's not a plausible goal unless it's a measurable one”. Which goes on to say “Here are some questions to ask yourself to gauge your levels of satisfaction, contentment and overall happiness.” question 5 of the same article is are you only happy when you buy something, the advice given on this page tells the reader not to associate happiness with this “ Be careful about thinking that such acquisitions (new car or dream vacation) bring contentment with them.” This statement displays that again happiness doesn’t come from external stimuli. Furthermore the last question on this article is “what’s stopping you from being happy” From appearance this could mean that if we removed what we don’t want in our lives it will make us happy. Which links back to the quotation from one psychiatrist of ‘annihilate anxiety and other disturbances’ would this in turn make us happy? Would this in turn mean we cause our own happiness?
“Being happy with who you are and what you have, is a decision that has to be consciously made”. The first bit of this statement “what you have” shows us that its external stimuli making us happy which I have shown doesn’t cause happiness “money can’t buy happiness” instead happiness comes from within us like the quote from the Dalai lama, the ‘decision’ part to this statement.
In conclusion the idea that there is no straightforward, clear-cut way in which happiness can be defined was explicitly highlighted. Which answers my first question on what is happiness. Furthermore while not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, all experts agree that we can all learn to be happy. It is my belief that the answer to my question “do we cause our own happiness” is yes because we all do what we think makes us happy, as Lincoln said “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.…...

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