“What is your major desire in life?” is the most popular question people ask themselves and others. The majority would answer that it is happiness. Although it sounds simple and understandable, it is impossible to measure contentment and describe it precisely. The paper highlights the major characteristics of happiness, its constituents, and personal perception of it.
To understand what makes happiness, it is necessary to analyze the nature of this state. Feldman views it as the biggest “attainable surplus” of please over the sufferings and pain. However, it is difficult to measure what such a “surplus” might be. The sensory intensity of strong and vivid pleasure may better define happiness. Overall, it is not an unambiguously single pursuit of happiness. There are multiple ways of becoming happy because there are different things in various places, societies, and cultural contexts that can bring this feeling.
Happiness may be viewed from three perspectives. First, a person may be happy during a stretch of time. An individual’s happiness during a span of time can be treated as the sum of the person’s “happiness levels” for the various moments and events. Feldman concludes that sheer happiness in life is contentment for only the certain interval. Second, a person finds a sense of gratification in a definite domain of life such as work, relationships, and marriage. Happiness may be guaranteed only if events associated with that sphere give rise to a sufficiently greater predominance of pleasure over sufferings. Last, contentment in life in general constitutes the abovementioned factors and is long-lasting.
The process of reaching happiness should not be an overwhelming task that takes all energy and time. Concentration on contentment is self-defeating when aiming at pursuing this feeling prevents one from becoming pleased during the process. Thus, such striving cannot be called happiness because too many efforts and deprivations in the name of illusive happiness cannot in reality make a person truly content. Moreover, when an individual does attain what he/she has been aspiring to, he or she may understand that it does not bring pleasure and every effort has been in vain. Therefore, it is improper to set the personal happiness as the ultimate and overriding goal because it is the process of doing what one wants and enjoys.
In fact, many simple, positive, and healthy activities and occupations may promote wellbeing. To feel happy, sometimes it is enough to take time to experience simple pleasures such as cooking and reading books. For others, happiness can be found in simplifying the life. Making time to relax, reorganizing the home, and developing healthy routines may bring a sense of contentment. Although each person finds happiness in different places and things, there are a number of common attributes that make people happy. For example, meaningful experiences, good relationships with friends and family, and practicing gratitude and generosity bring value to the existence and enhances contentment from life.
According to the people interviewed, happiness is more a sentimental value that cannot be bought. However, one respondent confessed that he would not have enough money to set the price for buying happiness. Everybody shared that family is the most influential part of their lives that can both motivate to pursue wellbeing and signify contentment. In fact, happiness may be found in mutual love, realizing the goals, receiving education, and having a good family. In addition, interviewed people make others happy, treating them with respect and love.
In order to become happy, a person develops the range of prospects towards a unique, balanced, and happy life. It means that no one else may define happiness for another person. Nevertheless, government should foster and even expand the possibility for everybody to pursue happiness. The documentary Living on One Dollar demonstrates what happens if the government does not wisely assist people in earning money necessary for basic needs. Although people in rural Guatemala are willing to study and work hard, they are not provided with the corresponding opportunities. As a result, they cannot be fully happy when they are sick and their children are starving. However, friendly relationships among community members and readiness to help in the times of need are important factors of being content.
Despite the fact that people have a general notion of what can make them happy, many of them adopt lifestyles that contradict the possibility of becoming pleased. They have too rushed lives, stressful work, and are excessively focused on things that do not really matter. Nowadays, people follow the variety of “get-rich-quick-schemes” and practice proliferating consumerism, viewing it as happiness. In fact, unhealthy and overwhelming lifestyles make individuals mentally and physically unwell, which definitely cannot correlate with happiness. As a result, people are caught in the vicious circle when they lose and overlook real happiness in the attempt to achieve the things that they think can bring them contentment.
Although many people view money as the core attribute of real happiness, the satisfaction of possessing much is relative. In fact, very wealthy people do not experience bigger happiness compared to the moderately rich. It means that the amount of money does not influence the degree of contentment. For everybody, happiness covers three assets such as shelter, sustenance, and security. Nevertheless, even a rich person may be miserable because of the fear of losing everything. This theory explains why poor people feel relatively happier compared to the wealthy. The destitute adapt to their conditions, change their behavior, and try to benefit even from the meager state of living.
Another characteristic of happiness in money relates to its unpredictable nature. For example, the life of David Siegel and his family from the film Queen of Versailles proves that even the richest person may become poor in a day and vice versa. Having lost his money during the crisis of 2008, David became totally unhappy, which now significantly influences the relationships with his family. One day, he was highly influential and affluent; and the next day, he is deprived of the usual lifestyle and his dream of building another Versailles. Similarly, his wife worked as a waitress and a worker in hospice to sustain herself in her youth and could not imagine that in a few years, she would have everything.
The notion and measure of happiness vary from country to country, as it is demonstrated in the film Happiness. Moreover, resources and potentials available within society also shape the sense of contentment in an individual. In general, happiness can be defined as psychological, physical, and socioeconomical satisfaction in different realms of life within varied cultural contexts.
As for me, happiness is a combination of non-materialistic things. My major source of present contentment is a loving family. It can truly inspire me to realize my potential and achieve serious goals. Moreover, having somebody whom I can grant all my love and care is crucial for me to be happy. I would also like to receive a better appreciation of my skills, strengths, and abilities. I believe that I can achieve it having a job where I can do what I am passionate about. I cannot imagine sitting at home and relying on others. I am content when I work and feel that I can somehow be useful for the community. It means that I would not work only for money because simple income cannot make me happy. I aspire for work that would give me the feeling of satisfaction and potential for further development. In brief, happiness plays a decisive role in all my goals and priorities because it directs my efforts to the attaining of satisfaction from everything I do.
The presence and care of close people can constitute happiness. It is invaluable to feel when another person sees that somebody needs and takes care of his or her. Warm and loving attitude is impossible to buy. I do not believe in prosperity as an invaluable attribute of happiness. In terms of money, real happiness means having enough to provide basic needs. Having too much entails additional stress, fear, pressure, and responsibility. Other aspects of happiness are simplifying the life and finding pleasure in everyday events. In addition, communicating with friends and family and valuing what one has are the perquisites for gratification.
In fact, happiness is not caused by external circumstances; it is created through the interpretations of events and attitudes. A person may be naturally happy if he or she possesses such internal personal characteristics as optimism, integrity, humor, as well as the desire for achievements and activity. Such people are always satisfied because they do not need to have a material proof for their contentment and with their abilities, they can create happiness around them, utilizing basic things.
In conclusion, happiness is the main indicator of self-realization and success. Some people may find contentment in materialistic things, namely wealth, whereas others are satisfied with everything that cannot be bought. In general, happiness is an individual matter defined in accordance with an individual’s preferences, experiences, and aspirations.