What is the definition of happiness?

〜taking scientific approach to happiness〜

This article is related to the following story. It may be better for you to read it before you read this article.
Don't aim for HAPPINESS

Hey you! Yes, I am talking to YOU, who just opened this page.
Did you think that you will find the answer to the question what "happiness" is for you, here in this page?

Well, I am sorry!

You cannot find any of that here.
You should never entrust a complete stranger to give you the answer to such an important question about your life.

Well, so much for that.
Today's subject is what "happiness" for you.

Great men of the past usually put so much thoughts into these significant issues, so let's start by looking at some examples.

Here is a summary of what some of our predecessors said:

Zeno of Citium (a philosopher from Citium, Cyprus island, B.C. 300)

Happiness consists of the state of apatheia, that is, a state of being a rational being, by completely controlling our passion, and becoming "one" with the Universe.

Epicurus (an ancient Greek philosopher, B.C. 300)

Happiness is a state of ataraxia, that is, pleasure in mind (stable mind, a state of mind in the absence of pain and confusion)

Ancient Chinese "Renjian xun" (From "the Huainanzi", 2nd Century B.C)

Life is like the story of the old man who lost his horse on the border.
(Inscrutable are the ways of Heaven; You never know what will be fortunate or unfortunate for you.)


Everyone is a sinner.
Happiness is not achievable through efforts toward personal fulfillment.
Only the blessings bestowed by God can bring happiness.

Abraham Maslow

Human needs are ordered in a hierarchy.
Only upon satisfaction of physiological needs, e.g., those for food and sleep, human motivations move to a higher stage, e.g., esteem needs.
The need for "self-actualization" is at the highest level.

OK, I sort of got it.

Curiously, it seems that there are not too much in common among what they said.
It seems that they are records of abstract ideas appeared in their mind, recorded in a hope to convey something very important, but it is hard to get a solid understanding of them.

What I, Fully Hatter, want to know is not what the "happiness" means to anyone else.
What I really want to know is what is happiness means to "me" who have nothing to do with anyone else, and who is living in a completely different age.

Considering these things, I think it's a good idea to start from the "scientific facts".
If we don't take this approach, we will end up arriving at a very ambiguous, unrebuttable conclusion.

The scientific facts revealed by the study made by David G. Myers are follows:

  • Financial well-beingness does not have much correlation with happiness (in countries with some degree of affluence)
  • People who are married, have active religious faith and higher self-esteem, who are more optimistic, and who are outgoing tend to be happier than those who are single, who lack religious faith, who have lower self-esteem, and who are more pessimistic, and introvert
  • Gratitude tends to improve one's happiness
  • Kindness tends to improve one's happiness

Aren't these pieces of information quite meaningful?
In consideration of the fact that the great men of the past have left different definitions of "happiness", it should be undeniable that these scientific facts are quite powerful.
Doesn't it feel like we are starting to get grasp of a vague image of what the "happiness" is, just by looking at these scientific facts?

Now, I want to talk about what I think about "happiness".

I use the following "scientific facts" as the basis of my statement.

  • It is by a slightest chance that the human species have survived until today
  • People make completely different choices depending on under what circumstances they feel "happy"

Based on these scientific facts, I concluded as follows:

For us human beings who are living this age to think that we can answer a question of what the "happiness" is, it is like an attempt to do calculus without mastering additions and subtractions.

The fact that the human species have not gone extinct is just by a miraculous chance, and this miracle is largely dependent on the circumstances under which we feel happiness.

We eat what we think tasty.
We approach people we like. We live in a place where we feel comfortable.

People's choices are largely dependent on this navigation system called "happiness". What if this navigation system is broken?

Humans will go extinct instantaneously.

For example, what if humans felt happiness under the threat of a lion?
The lion will enjoy us as a great feast, and we will go extinct sooner or later.
As another example, as soon as we start feeling happiness in pain, we will start hurting ourselves and die out soon or later.
As still another example, as soon as we stop feeling happiness in having our meals, we will stop eating, and starved to death.

We can say that "happiness" is like a crystal formed in our long history, that is, a crystal formed for the purpose of preventing our species from going extinct.
It's not anything light, like being "good" or "bad".
Happiness is something upon which our survival or extinction is dependent.

Even if you feel happiness in something that you don't feel "right", it might be a kind of "happiness" required for the human species to survive.
If we take away the "happiness" from the human species without much thought, we might go straight to our extinction.

Conversely, the "happiness" some people experience may not be the real happiness.
What if there is someone who believed that attainment of some "enlightenment" is the "happiness" and guided the entire humans to his "enlightenment", and the humans ended up going extinct?
If this is the case, it can be said that this enlightenment was not the real happiness.

Even without complete understanding of fundamentals like how our eco system works, how the natural selection takes place, or how our brain works, we humans can never say that THIS is the correct definition of the "happiness".
What we humans living the modern world can do is maybe to just let our imagination run, like "the happiness I am feeling now might have this kind of meaning".

If you agree with it, send it to a friend or share it on SNS!

Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

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1. Leelu
[2022/10/25 10:02:09 JST(UTC+09:00)]

Happiness is qualitative not quantitative.

Comment here, and Fully Hatter will reply with affection.

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