Tuesday, May 16, 2017

True Happiness (part 2): "What Is Happiness, Anyway?"

We talk and hear much about happiness today but what is happiness that so many are eager to pursue it? What is unhappiness? How does one know if he or she is unhappy if one does not know what happiness is? What words or terms come to mind when thinking of happiness? Delight. Joy. Freedom from care, pain, sorrow, want. Contentment. I don’t like how the dictionary defines happiness: “the state of being happy.” That doesn’t tell me what happiness is.
  • Is happiness a destination or a by-product? 
  • Is happiness a choice?
  • Is happiness good health? 
  • Is happiness a person? or people? 
  • Is happiness a warm donut? A warm puppy? A Warm Gun?
[Original song from The Beatles' White Album]

In Book 3, Prose 2 of Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy,” The Love of Wisdom (“philosophy”, personified as a lady in white) defines happiness as “a state which is made perfect by the union of all good things.” A much better definition. In other words, happiness is attaining the highest good. Written in the 400’s AD, Boethius reveals the question of happiness is an ancient one. Mankind across time in every culture has been pursuing happiness, each one on his or her own path to find it.

If The Love of Wisdom ("philosophy") is correct, then it would be right to say that mankind has a built-in desire acquire happiness, apprehend of that which is truly good. The problem is that man gets lost when he considers the many possible paths. Which should he choose?
  • Does money bring happiness? 
  • Or admiration or perhaps places honor? 
  • Maybe happiness is found in power. 
  • Or in fame, glory.
  • Or in pleasure. 
Whatever happiness is, mankind has been looking for ages and each man or woman has his or her own desire, their own reason for wanting it. Whatever happiness is, that pull that makes us hunt it down is powerful. It is a force of nature. We may disagree on what happiness is and we may disagree on how happiness may be secured, but we all agree that happiness must be so incredibly good, some kind of "highest good," that every person should have it.

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