The question ‘what is happiness?’ has been asked many times throughout history. However, the answer remains elusive. Many people agree that happiness is a state of the spirit, a happy disposition or an inner sense of wellbeing. However psychologist and social scientists have sought to define happiness much differently, often with disappointing results.
The word happiness is typically used in the context of emotional or mental states, such as pleasant or positive feelings ranging from elation to extreme happiness. Happiness is also used in the contexts of life happiness, subjective well Being, eudaimonic, flourishing and overall well being. The dictionary definition of this word also makes reference to contentment, enjoyment, cheerfulness and happiness. The state of happiness, as understood by most psychologists and social scientists, involves the feeling of worth, of being content, that something is right and that there is something more out there than what we have here. According to this view, happiness makes us fulfilled and that there is some kind of ‘balance’ in life, which can be described as a happy medium between the pressures of modern living and the joy of living in a natural environment.
However there are many other definitions of happiness and they differ because they relate happiness to different human needs. As an example, happiness could be associated with the promise categories of material possessions, companionship, affection and time, while others relate it to the achievement category of success. In general, then, there are six basic human needs that are included in defining what is happiness for each individual.
The first two human needs, as suggested by the definition above, are pleasure and commitment. Pleasure relates to the sensual aspects of life, which includes things such as food, drink, clothing and other pleasurable experiences. Commitment is related to forming long-lasting relationships and responsibilities, which could be family, friendship or work. Satisfaction, on the other hand, is related to achieving goals and achieving satisfaction. Finally, the sixth basic need, time, is associated with our ability to enjoy life, which can include opportunities to travel, to do things we love and to spend leisure time.
So, what is happiness then? To answer this question, one must speak not only to the definition of happiness but also to the human needs that make us tick. The second basic need, for example, makes us want to eat, sleep and breathe. Satisfying this need would then lead to a fulfilling and contented life, which would ultimately lead to happiness. On the other hand, achieving this goal would then lead to the third basic need, which is to live well. This then would guarantee the fourth basic need, which is a sense of accomplishment and the fifth basic need, which are personal fulfillment and the sixth basic need, which are social fulfillment.
Happiness therefore is when your life fulfils your personal needs and your basic emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. Happiness is therefore not just about experiencing pleasant feelings, but having positive experiences and outcomes. A happy life is therefore all about having as many pleasurable and rewarding moments as possible. It makes us feel good, see good and do good, whether physically or mentally.