Defining Happiness

Much of what I write here is likely self-evident to many, including you, but, sadly, based on extensive discourse with others, 99.9% of us have not addressed this topic sufficiently to resolve it; so, it remains life’s biggest riddle – the thing that all of us seek from life, and the seemingly most innocent and simplest goal of all, but, ironically, by far the most illusive:  Happiness.  What is it?  How can we attain it?  Can there be any conundrum more significant?  A rare few of us possess it by dint of genetic implant, and those fortunate few sail through life seemingly untouched by most problems, but, for most of us, it is a lifelong battle, and, oddly, one that we rarely tackle head-on.  However crucial it is to our mental and physical survival, we tend to take it for granted, or, worse, ignore it altogether.  How can we seek a goal that we have never defined?  Admittedly, there are myriad definitions of happiness and surely an infinite number of ways to achieve it, or at least to capture snippets of it, but, still, most of us have to wonder:  “Why does happiness remain so illusive and such a mystery?

As a youngster in my twenties, I gave little thought to the concept of “happiness”.  I seemed happy, more or less, and I was too busy doing all that I needed to do, but, after I completed my schooling and was practicing law and having children, as more problems arose, I began to muse on “the meaning of life”.  At age 35, I was confounded by a comment of my oldest son, then 12 years old.  When I asked him what he wanted from life, he replied so guilelessly,

“Oh, I just want to be happy, Dad.”

His retort was at once obvious, disarming and frustratingly confounding.  I asked him how he defined happiness, and he could not, but, upon enigmatic reflection, neither could I.  This disquieted me and propelled me into researching it.  I resolved to dissect the evasive condition of “happiness” and to possess it for myself.  Indeed, Socrates taught us that we should begin all discussions by defining our key terms, because, absent definitions, we may not even be discussing the same subject.  So, let’s try to define it.  My beloved dictionaries advised that happiness is:

“good fortune;   prosperity;   a state of well being and contentment;  and joy”.

These definitions beg the question.  “Good fortune” suggests luck.  “Prosperity” implies money.  “A state of well being,” presumably, means good health, and “contentment” implies “not wanting anything more than one has”.  Is happiness luck?  Or money?  Or not wanting anything?  (Interestingly, the latter is Nirvana, the goal of Buddhism.)  Disturbingly to me,  these dictionary definitions told us, in essence, that happiness is “feeling good”, but they did not explain WHAT would create a “good” feeling!  Suppose I felt depressed; what could I do to supplant depression with joy?  THAT was The $64,000,000,000,000 Question.  So, our   coveted dictionaries did not provide the answer.

Years of reading and contemplation, life experiences and observations, have led me to an answer, with seven parts, that has saved me, and, perhaps, it will help you.  I do not claim to have eliminated depression OR to have achieved a state of ubiquitous “happiness”, BUT I have found a system of seven parts that has greatly enhanced the level of my happiness at most times.  Any one of these seven steps may work, by itself, for most, and there are surely many paths beyond the seven that I here discuss, but my seven, I respectfully submit, are universal truths that will work for 99% of us, and most of them are plagiarized from minds far greater than mine.  What are these seven steps?

Very recently, I was persuaded to publish some of my ramblings as E-Books on Amazon.  My first book (or, more aptly, chapbook) is on this subject.  As circulation, not profit, is my motive, I put only a token price on it.  Anyway, if you wish to read my observations on Happiness, go to Amazon: Happiness in Seven Steps by Lee Lovett.