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Thread: Happiness

  1. #1

    Smile Happiness

    A couple of weeks ago Radio National's" Background Briefing" programme centred on happiness and included "expert opinion" plus controlled trials of various events and their resulting effect on the subjects' happiness. Some of the results were surprising and interesting.

    The topic may be a bit abstract for this forum, but I thought it would be interesting to know what makes members happy.

    How do you define being happy?
    What is the difference between happiness and contentment?
    What makes you sad?
    What makes you angry?
    Do you have an expectation of being happy, or would you concur with Thoreau's suggestion that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation"?

    There are plenty of thinkers on this forum. Any contributions to the above?

    Best wishes to all


  2. #2

    Default Re: Happiness

    Great topic Julia. Even for a strict rationalist, what better way to establish priorities?

    How do you define being happy?

    Well I could say something mushy like waking up to exchange smiles with the love of my life every morning... but that's not a very abstract definition is it. Maybe it's something to do with being aware of the small moments of pleasure that are about within just about every day. Tiny triumphs, silly jokes, small shared memories... that sort of stuff.

    What is the difference between happiness and contentment?

    Erk!! Um!!! Happiness is contentment with bubbles?

    What makes you sad?

    My mother's ageing; memories of people I've loved who have died; relationships that go bad; people abusing public resources, including trust; knowing that my singing voice probably won't last as long as I will.

    What makes you angry?

    Abuse of public resources, including trust; telemarketing (a special case of abuse of public resources); telephone menu and voice activated response systems (ditto); deliberate cultivation of confusion; people who undermine confidence and call it teaching or being realistic; a government that actively promotes fear and divisiveness.

    Do you have an expectation of being happy, or would you concur with Thoreau's suggestion that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation"?

    I believe that happiness is largely a matter of paying attention. Of course, everyone has times when sorrow or disaster are simply overwhelming and and the only sane response is rage and grief. But even then there are usually tiny moments when the sun breaks through, and I think that looking for them and paying attention to them as they come is a good way to ensure that desperation isn't lifelong.

    Hard questions; do you have answers?

    Without music, life would be a mistake

  3. #3
    Rotaredom wayneL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Default Re: Happiness

    Yes interesting topic Julia.

    The problem is with language. Words are so incapable of describing "feelings".

    I looked up the dictionary description of happiness:


    hap·py Audio pronunciation of "happiness" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hp)
    adj. hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est

    1. Characterized by good luck; fortunate.
    2. Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.
    3. Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase.
    4. Cheerful; willing: happy to help.
    1. Characterized by a spontaneous or obsessive inclination to use something. Often used in combination: trigger-happy.
    2. Enthusiastic about or involved with to a disproportionate degree. Often used in combination: money-happy; clothes-happy.

    [Middle English, from hap, luck. See hap.]happi·ly adv.
    happi·ness n.

    Synonyms: happy, fortunate, lucky, providential
    These adjectives mean attended by luck or good fortune: a happy outcome; a fortunate omen; a lucky guess; a providential recovery. See also synonyms at glad1

    [Download Now or Buy the Book]
    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


    n 1: state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy [syn: felicity] [ant: unhappiness] 2: emotions experienced when in a state of well-being [ant: sadness]

    ================================================== ===

    Doesn't really cut it does it.

    My own feeble description: Constantly creative (in the broadest sense) yet lacking in expectation....well I know what I mean anyway LOL.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Happiness

    Hi Julia,

    I prefer to use the word "fulfillment", being fulfilled is "feeling the emotions of success", in this very moment for what I have already achieved, of my current actions, in the realisation of a project, and in the realisation of my dreams.

    I feel contented is a term that describes the emotional state of a person who does not desire success, and is accepting of current circumstances, even if they are painful. I feel that fullfilled is a term that descibes the emotional state of a person who desires success, is not accepting of painful circumstances, and takes action to attain pleasure.

    Painful circumstances usually make the average person feel painful emotions, however I never use my phsysiology in a way that would have me feel pain, I am always aware and in control of my breath, posture and movements. I also never focus on painful emotions such as sadness or angriness, so I never feel them. I ask myself better questions, use better words, and interpret painful circumstances and emotions as an oppurtunity to take action to change and progress.

    To feel "the emotions of success" is a decision I have made, I value pleasure, I value life, I value love and warmth, appreciation and gratutude, curiousity, excitement and passion, determination, flexibilty, confidence, cheerfulness, vitality,and contribution, and believe that I deserve total fulfillment, to make real my thoughts through action, and to live life with purpose, today, tommorrow and forever, as should everyone else.

    Jesse Livermore

  5. #5
    Happy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    NSW, Australia

    Default Re: Happiness

    Make the best out of every situation, think positive, eat and exercise well, sleep enough, as we will be long dead, (maybe except of those who believe in reincarnation and of course if there is one).

  6. #6

    Smile Re: Happiness

    Many thanks to those who have replied so far. Ghotib: I especially like the definition of happiness as "contentment with bubbles". I smiled all afternoon.

    Having started this thread, I guess I should make my own contribution.

    I think happiness varies according to one's stage in life,circumstances and expectations. For me these days it can be:

    an unexpected moment of perfection, a sudden awareness of the setting sun casting a pink light over a flat sea where I'm walking at the water's edge. The only sound is the soft lapping of the water.

    the first daffodil pushing through after a freezing winter. Walking through acres of daffodils in Hagley Park, Christchurch, NZ with cherry blossom not far away.

    remembering an "I love you" from a 7 year old stepdaughter who vowed a year before that she hated having a stepmother and would never like me.

    watching my 2 year old German Shepherd bounding up a hill or out into the sea after a stick, after she lost most of her puppyhood to a bone problem which prevented her from most walking and all running. Just seeing her pure joy in living makes me happy.

    What makes me sad:

    my father committing suicide because he just didn't know how to talk to anyone, me included.

    lost opportunities and relationships which failed from lack of honesty and insight on both sides

    failure to support others when they needed help. It's easy to always be too busy to notice a need.

    our apparently infinite capacity for self deception and reluctance to communicate honestly and without arrogance and "puffery". (not sure if that's actually a word.)


    Jesse, I don't think I agree with you here. For me, it's more an acceptance of some of life's inevitabilities, that despite my best efforts, I haven't achieved all I would have wished, but that I can still find pleasure in what is. I think it means to me an acceptance of not having to strive all the time.


    I don't get angry about much as distinct from being intensely irritated by electronic voices and "press 1, 2 or 3 etc. when I want to talk to a person, by shop assistants who, when you are clearly waiting to be served, say
    "You right there?", by tradespeople who promise to come and then don't even have the courtesy to phone to say they won't be there, and all the other everyday minor things we all endure.

    What makes me angry to the point of wishing all things bad on the perpetrators are abuse of any kind, particularly sexual abuse of children by a trusted family member (I experienced this as a child), abuse of power in a political, personal, financial or emotional sense where a bullied person is left feeling bewildered about why they feel so bad. And above all, cruelty to animals. I am a dog lover, have had German Shepherds all my life, and am completely incapable of understanding how anyone can torture, neglect or in any other way abuse a creature who offers such pure and uncritical love and loyalty.

    I do hope some more members will post their thoughts on this subject, and much appreciation to those who already have.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Happiness

    When I started reading this thread I thought that money might be mentioned at some point. To my surprise I am wrong.

    Happiness is being able to have what you want...for me, it can be something as simple as the latest playstation game, or something as big as a nice house or car. Happiness is also being able to give what you want - nice jewellery for my girlfriend, beer for your mates, holiday for your family, etc. etc.

    Its all about giving and getting - which means the more money you have to enable this, the happier you can be. Thats not to say that rich people are happier than poor people, because many rich people don't know how to use money to maximise their happiness.

    Just my thoughts...for me, the difference between happiness and content is the difference between a 15%p.a. return on the market and a 100%p.a. return on the market. Easy money should make anyone happy.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Happiness

    Quote Originally Posted by Julia
    What is the difference between happiness and contentment?
    Hi Julia,

    I would suggest that "Happiness" is usually based on external circumstances, such as one's apparent level of success as visible in the external world to others. This is observed by people saying, "I am happy because of [such and such]"

    "Contentment" on the other hand, is an internal state of being. It's about how you feel on the inside, regardless of what you have and what is going on in the world around you. A content person needs no justification to feel that way - they just have an underlying sense of inner peace.


  9. #9

    Default Re: Happiness

    I think that security is one of the things which contributes greatly to happiness.

    Security as in having a modest house owned outright rather than a mansion founded on debt. Having a stable relationship with someone you love rather than an affair with someone who looks like a model. Having a secure job on reasonable pay rather than anything "casual". Knowing that you won't starve or be homeless even if you did lose that job. Knowing that if you get sick, you will be taken care of whether you can afford to pay or not.

    Unfortunately society seems to have moved away from these things in recent years all in the relentless pursuit of a small nominal increase in GDP. According to one survey that I have seen, the time in the past 100 years when people were happiest was 1957 and it's gone steadily downhill ever since. We have more in an economic sense, but are less happy.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Happiness

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf1976
    I think that security is one of the things which contributes greatly to happiness.
    Most definately, attainment of the most basic human needs, of certainty, variety, significance, and connection (love) is nice, but it is the needs of growth and contribution that are the most important to fulfillment.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Happiness

    In the light of a long weekend with possibly a shift in thinking away from the stock market for a few days - and with quite a few new members since we focused on this thread - I thought I'd try reviving it in the hope that some of our newer members might be happy to offer their thoughts on what constitutes happiness.

    On another thread this week, a member mentioned the SBS programme Insight last Tuesday on "Happiness" and in particular the conclusion drawn by the programme that an essential factor in achieving happiness was to feel a part of one's community or group.

    Do you agree with this?

    If so, what does being part of a community offer you?

    If not, where is your source of happiness?

    Don't be shy about posting - there are no wrong answers!


  12. #12

    Default Happiness

    What makes real happiness ?

    Not wealth.

    Not ....well I'm not sure but a stable relationship must rate up there somewhere.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Happiness

    Mr B, we have already had multiple discussions on this subject.
    Here is just one of the threads:


  14. #14

    Default Re: Happiness

    I've spent a lot of time pondering this over the years and I'm pretty sure the answer is beer.
    Don't take investment advice from seafood.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Happiness

    Preferably consumed on the back of a boat on a hot summers day in good company.
    Don't take investment advice from seafood.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Happiness

    Quote Originally Posted by cuttlefish View Post
    I've spent a lot of time pondering this over the years and I'm pretty sure the answer is beer.
    Nominated as post of the year

  17. #17

    Default Re: Happiness

    Quote Originally Posted by Julia View Post
    Mr B, we have already had multiple discussions on this subject.
    Here is just one of the threads:

    Multiple discussions , just another days work!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Happiness

    music, coke and women

  19. #19

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GE & NG
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Happiness

    Quote Originally Posted by MrBurns View Post
    What makes real happiness ?
    Serotonin... depressing isn't it?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Happiness

    The mind is geared to produce 'happiness' with certain chemical reactions and the stimulation of dopamine, serotonin, and few other chemical reactions.

    Apparently, cigarettes work a lot on dopamine as a reward, and a new drug helps target that to help people quit, example Champix.

    Btw, my brother smoked 4 25 years, how 40 with 3 kids, and has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, with is metastatic, had a golf ball of cancer removed from his stomach.
    Last edited by weird; 9th-August-2009 at 02:12 AM.

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