Is Happiness a “Thing” or a “Feeling”?

Now that I’ve explained that Be Alive In Five is a guide to happiness and a tool to help you choose happiness, ask yourself this question once more: “Am I happy?” This question is a tricky one. In order to answer it, we first must answer the question: WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

According to The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, happiness is defined as a noun, “the feeling of being happy”. That isn’t very helpful, is it? Upon looking up the word ‘happy’ in the same dictionary, we are told that happy is an adjective which means “feeling, showing or causing pleasure or satisfaction”. Somehow these definitions seem a bit vague. In my opinion, these standard definitions give more questions than answers.

Is happiness a “thing” or a “feeling”? What is “true happiness”? Has the definition for happiness changed over time?

Further research on the definition in specific reference to the philosophy of happiness gives us another word, “eudaimonia”. Eudaimonia is a Greek word which is often translated to English as the word “happiness”. Eudaimonia differs quite a bit from happiness as it is defined above, adding some clarity to it’s definition. Whereas in English, the happiness definition references a subjective state or measure of the quality of one’s life, eudaimonia’s definition refers to the experience of a life course which is objectively desirable in and of itself. This definition describes what Socrates considered to be the highest degree of happiness, or “true happiness.”

So, now that we have this improved definition of happiness, let’s put it to use by reading a bit about more about Socrates:

Socrates was a Greek philosopher (469-399 B.C.), widely considered to be the first western philosopher to develop a philosophy of happiness. In this philosophy, he states that the highest good achievable by any human being is happiness. Socrates’ philosophy also states that whatever action a person chooses in life, this choice is motivated by his/her desire for happiness. He furthermore declared that knowledge, virtue, and wisdom were all the same, since people choose an action according to what they think will bring them true happiness. Therefore, according to Socrates philosophy, the more a person knows, the greater their ability to reason out the correct choice and to choose those actions which truly bring them happiness.

From Socrates’ philosophy, I learned that knowledge is a key to finding true happiness. And that the knowledge that is most important in finding happiness is self-knowledge. In my book, Be Alive In Five, I tell you how I got to know myself and found true happiness. By sharing what I have learned, I can show you how to explore the knowledge inside yourself. By using the helpful exercises I discovered along my journey towards happiness as a guide, you should soon be upon your own path towards true and lasting happiness.

©Christina Florence – August 2010

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