Happiness 101: What Happiness Is

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Every Significant Religion Out There

Happiness is a mental state of well-being

  • Happiness requires self-awareness
    • Without being aware of your emotional state, you won’t know what you’re feeling
  • According to philosophers, there are three Happy Lives
    • The “Pleasant” Life – as much positive emotion as possible, which you have no direct control over
    • The “Good” Life – an engaged and constant flow of new and worthwhile life experiences
    • The Meaningful Life – knowing your strengths and contributing to a larger purpose
  • Happiness is a personal choice, not a circumstance
    • You are the leader of your own journey, and you are solely responsible for your happiness
      • This also applies to others and their happiness
      • Nobody else is responsible for your happiness
    • Difficult things happen, but it is your choice about how they affect you
      • This doesn’t mean you have to ignore your feelings, all of your feelings are genuine and deserve acknowledgement
        • However, you are responsible for every feeling you express, and those expressions affect your emotional state further
        • e.g. a bickering couple will become very pleasant as soon as someone knocks on their door
      • There are clear statements and thoughts that show you’re not taking responsibility for yourself
        • “I just can’t…”
        • “X is holding me back”
        • “If I get X then things will be okay”
        • “I have no other choice”
  • Happiness is also a moral obligation
    • By being unhappy, we are destroying others’ lives
      • It is a miserable and difficult life to be around unhappy people, which makes happiness morally wrong
  • Most of the difficulty in choosing happiness is connected to the need to change
    • Change requires a lot of self-discipline, and starts on the inside where nobody sees it
  • Happiness is an intentional focus on good things
    • True things, especially philosophies and good values
    • Noble and honorable things like the power of friendship
    • Morally pure things like caring for orphans
    • Beautiful things like a sunrise
    • Happiness intentionally chooses to NOT focus on a few specific things:
      • Yourself in comparison to others in status or accomplishments
      • The way things were better in the past
      • How much better things will be, since that’s not guaranteed
      • How much better things could become
      • What you don’t have or haven’t attained
  • Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily mean that it ignores bad things
    • Instead of saying “things are good”, true happiness says “things could be worse” or simply “I am okay”
    • It takes honesty and creativity to find ways that the situation could get worse
  • Happiness requires self-acceptance
    • Not placing conditions on your behaviors or personal state to receive self-acceptance and self-love
    • Not using “if/then” clauses to make conditions for accepting and loving yourself
    • Risking being open and vulnerable to who you are with no preset limits or expectations
    • Giving acceptance and love for existing rather than doing
    • Giving respect and latitude to be yourself rather than being what others desire you to be
  • There are many things that can provide a short-term pleasure, but are not able to provide long-lasting happiness
    • A nice living space – though it gives satisfaction in the house, it does little to improve overall happiness
    • Physical possessions – the rush comes in acquiring, but goes away after having it for a while
    • Career successes – the benefits come with their own costs of additional responsibilities and many sacrifices
    • Physical pleasure – the rush comes more than almost anything else, but is fleeting with age and very temporary
    • Relationships, both romantic and friends – there is value to them, but they only stave off unhappiness
    • Safety – it is comfortable to stay at home or not go somewhere, but it won’t give new answers to unanswered questions
    • Blamelessness – to be seen as a victim can garner sympathy, but tends to lose friends in the long run
    • Any other kind of success – success cannot lead to happiness, but happiness is necessary in order to have success
    • Any other good experience – though experiences are great for enjoying life, they are also guaranteed to end

Most happiness comes from learning positivity

  • Positivity is the ability to see the good side of things through one of the following:
    • Ignoring or invalidating the bad events occurring, which can actually reduce self-awareness in the long-term
    • Focusing more exclusively on the positive elements
    • Finding positive elements that come from negative elements (e.g. difficult workday comes from having a job)
  • The way positivity is formed is based on the way general and specific assumptions are made
    • A general statement will forbid universal disagreement to it – “Mondays are always bad for me”
    • A specific statement is clarified as an exception to the rule – “Today, my day was bad”
    • We can’t avoid assumptions, and it’s our decision on whether we want to err on the side of good or bad, which is a battle between desire and fear
  • Positivity creates meaning and purpose in a person
    • Every single human being needs to feel significant, connected and belong somewhere
      • Positivity guarantees a feeling of significance
      • Positive people are more easily connected with others
      • To be positive will inspire others to include someone into their lives

Too much unhappiness runs the risk of sabotaging many things you currently have

  • The brain has been proven to deteriorate from negativity and usually forms into a combination of three base behaviors
    • Fight – excessively angry, overly emotional, heated, agitated and unable to stay still
    • Flight – withdrawn, distant, self-unaware, little to no emotion or energy, depression
    • Freeze – paralyzed, unable to do anything without extreme difficulty
  • The body’s healing processes and immune systems are less effective
  • If you can’t accept yourself or the state of things, then your state of mind will suffer
  • Unhappy people end up oblivious to what they do to themselves
    • Inability or unwillingness to identify feelings
    • Valuing productivity over self-reliance
    • Dependence on others to feel self-worth
    • Fear of being vulnerable
    • Fear of failure
    • Tendency to set unrealistic, unattainable and overly idealized expectations to be “good enough”
    • No freedom to self-express or experience the natural consequences of your own choices
    • A constant attitude of “I’m not good enough”
    • Exaggerating reality to the point of delusion
  • To be self-rejecting leads to self-destructive behaviors
    • Fear of taking a risk
    • Inability to trust
    • Insecurity, low self-esteem and low self-worth
    • Fear of rejection
    • Inability to forgive self and others
    • Self-critical and self-deprecating
  • Relationships become strained when someone is perpetually miserable
    • Poor relationship skills and failed relationships
    • Legalism becomes confused as the means to being loved and accepted
    • Inability to establish intimacy
    • Constant need for approval
    • Can become withdrawn and isolating to avoid rejection and non-approval
    • Living to constantly please others instead of taking time for self-improvement
    • Feelings of being misunderstood, not approved of and defensive

There are many benefits to being naturally happy

  • Self-discipline is easier
    • You can manage your emotions more clearly and stop your inhibitions
    • You have an increased ability to learn new ways of living
  • You see the world in a better way
    • You have a natural sense of self-value and worth
    • Time becomes a valuable resource that can be used for a greater goal instead of a measurement of how long until the next painful event
    • Your relationship with God and connection with the supernatural grows naturally and organically as opposed to a religious dogmatism or shame
  • You make wiser decisions
    • You naturally know your feelings and draw on them in major decisions instead of them sabotaging the decisions from feelings that seemingly come from nowhere
    • There’s more willpower to respond to things instead of reacting, do the necessary research and be willing to accept uncertainty
    • Your ability to come up with more creative solutions is improved tremendously
  • Hardship is easier to handle
    • You can persist in setbacks and channel emotional energy toward worthwhile goals
    • Changes are seen as opportunities instead of struggles
    • There’s a proper response to sorrow, but you naturally come back to a genuine and deep center of joy
    • You’re less likely to get diseases
  • Your daily life gets better
    • You have more energy throughout your day
    • You are more focused on what you are doing and are more productive
    • You learn skills and knowledge faster
    • Your life expectancy increases
  • You get along with others better
    • You will feel that others will respond to you with
      • Kindness and gentleness
      • Approval of you for who you are instead of what you do
      • Listening to and understanding you
    • You can recognize others’ feelings as appropriate and empathize properly
    • You can express emotions honestly in appropriate settings
      • There will be no need to act in any way just to please someone else
      • You will feel free to open up your feelings with no fear of rejection or non-approval
    • There’s no fear of being vulnerable to the end of having open and honest relationships with others
      • You have no fear of backlash from others if you make a mistake or fail
      • There’s no need to use emotional blackmail or guilt trips to get your way
      • Feelings of warmth, being cared for and being nurtured
      • You feel free to be yourself
    • You are able to respond to both praise and criticism with grace and tact
    • Your friendships become much more meaningful to you
      • You are able to offer yourself to others as a worthwhile overflow of your wellness
Next: Happiness 102 – When You’re Unhappy