Definition of Happiness

Whenever a person is asked to define happiness, one of the first things that would naturally come to one’s mind is that it is subjective. I would, however, boldly attempt to define happiness objectively. Here are, in my humble opinion, 3 elements that make up the definition of happiness:

1.       In order to be happy, one must live up to his own principles of life. Principles are just a colloquial way of stating philosophical and conceptual standpoint that one believes in. These principles exist in either one side of the axis or another. They are definite. For example, if honesty is a principle that one holds dearly to, then he would be “unhappy” if he goes against it. It may not always be moralistic, as one may not believe that honesty is the best policy. While this may sound simplistic, one may not always act congruously with his own principles. There are always external and internal factors that deprive us from the choice to opt for what we truly believe in, such as peer pressure, family, and even financial situation. This is why not everyone is happy with their wealth, as it may have cost them to compromise on their own principles.

2.       Have short term and long term goals. Once again, this is not an abstruse concept. Yet, ironically, many actually underestimate the power of goals. If we take a look at any game, there is always a goal. By achieving those goals, we achieve “happiness”. These goals may not even be moralistic. This is why little children who do not yet comprehend their calling, find joy in video games that artificially set goals for them, be it to complete the game or achieving a new high score. Having said that, short term goals would merely lead to short lived happiness. A long term goal without some short term goals will only cause a person to burn out as he would not be happy until the goal is reached. Hence, it is important to have both long term and short term goals organized in order for one to be happy.

3.       Minimizing the effect of negative emotions. While we are inherently emotional creatures, we have a choice to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The former has already been explained above, but what can we do about the latter? It is a common advice to always ask someone not to get angry when he is. However, the advice is only in colloquial terms and cannot be taken seriously in its literal sense. Emotions cannot be nullified when it is triggered. However, it can be channeled or acknowledged for subsequent actions. There is no use asking yourself not to be afraid or angry when you are. Instead, either channel them to a positive avenue, or acknowledge them while changing the course of your action. By doing so, we could be happy despite our inherent nature to have all kinds of emotions.

To sum it all up, for one to be happy, one should maximize pleasure, minimize pain, and do the both congruously with one’s principles of life.

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