The Source of Happiness
Where Does Happiness Come From?
I imagine everyone reading this has realized that they do not put ‘happiness’ into new cars, stereo systems and new clothes at the factories where they are made, yet we are clearly happy when we acquire these things. Where does the happiness come from? From ‘things’ or the act of possession or possibly somewhere else?
The quest to answer this question has vexed philosophers since the dawn of human thought. There are three major schools of thought: hedonism, eudemonism and theological.
All three have good points. The responsibility to answer the question of where happiness comes from falls upon you alone, as many of your most important decisions in life will be based upon your quest for happiness.
Pleasure, Hedonism and Eudemonism
Hedonism says that pleasure is satisfaction; that happiness comes from pleasure. There are different types and degrees of pleasure that can be derived on the physical, emotional and intellectual planes of life. Pleasure can range from indulging in a slice of decadent chocolate cake to listening to music. This philosophy was codified by the Greek Epicurus.
Eudemonism represents the philosophy of Aristotle and Ayn Rand and is exemplified in their writings. Here the idea is that happiness comes from fulfilling one’s innate capacities. Happiness comes from reaching our highest potential, from developing our talents to our fullest capacity.
Feels Good to Be Humble
Finally there is the theological approach to happiness. This philosophy says that happiness comes from embracing and living our lives guided by higher virtues such as humility, compassion, unconditional love, self-giving and all the others that various religions and spritual paths extol.
A good friend of mine read my rough draft to this and responded “…to me it all boils down to ‘giving…’’ Now its your turn, what does happiness mean to you?