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Defining Happiness

“I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness. “The Dalai Lama

Defining HappinessIntuitively, I believe the words of the Dalai Lama to be the truth.

Happiness like love is something we all experience. We know how it feels.

There’s an old joke about defining art, “I don’t know what it is but I’ll know it when I see it,” or in the case of Happiness, I don’t know what it is but I’ll know it when I feel it.

Yet, a problem remains with this as a definition, because it is not a definition.

For example, no matter how eloquently I describe the “wetness” of water, without having the experience of “wetness” you cannot know how it feels, and secondly, how “wetness” feels, once you experience it, is going to be unique to you.

Further complicating the definition is that each experience you have of “wetness” is unique. The “wetness” you feel as you dive into a wave crashing on a tropical beach seems very different from the bone chilling “wetness” you feel during a polar plunge.

These three things; that you cannot know how it feels until you’ve had the experience, that how it feels is going to be unique to you and each experience of it is, in and of itself, a unique experience, sums up the problem of defining happiness.

Quest for a Definition

Robert Holden Defining HappinessWhere does that leave us in the quest for a definition of happiness? Is there no way to define Happiness?

Yes and no.

Yes we can define happiness by examining its component parts; Inner peace and joy, Contentment, passion and pleasure, fulfillment, confidence and self-respect and self-realization.

No, because the actual experience that is created by the cause, and makes up every experience of happiness is, like the experiencer, unique. As a result there is no “true” general definition of happiness because the only the real definition of happiness is one created and experienced by you.

Another factor that must be considered in trying to divine a definition of happiness is that we humans are multidimensional.

The Multidimensional Definition of Happiness

From the moment as human beings we began to realize that we could have thoughts and feelings about our thoughts and feelings – and that this ability to judge and make choices allowed us to choose things that make us happy -we realized that we were no longer stuck in the single dimension of the physical world.

We discovered that as a species we are complex and multidimensional. Paradoxically this multidimensionality can be experienced in a single dimension, for example the level of thought, or simultaneously at all three dimensional levels – existence, consciousness and bliss or body, mind and spirit.

It turns out that the experience that we are all seeking – the experience that’s our evolutionary motivator -laughter, happiness and bliss – is multidimensional.

Laughter Happiness and Bliss – Three Dimensions of Joy

Laughter is, most often, the physical expression of happiness and joy. Laughter flows both ways; it can be either the cause or the expression of happiness and joy.

Happiness takes place at the level of thought. It’s here in the mind, the intellect and the ego where judgment and choice are made.

At this level we are sometimes taken in the opposite direction of our true desire, which is thinking and believing that something outside of ourselves will bring us happiness, a process known as “object referral.”

Even when we come to realize that our happiness is not “out there” but is only found within, we discover that our desire for happiness is only the beginning of our journey.

Bliss or enlightenment is our true and natural state, the ground state of our being. In this place we are self-referenced, it is the place where the experience of joy has and needs no cause. It simply arises. It is the place of peace, harmony, joy and love. It is our true home.

Defining Happiness is Personal

A predominate belief in the field of psychology has been that happiness and joy are fleeting experiences, temporary states of well-being. At the level of the mind, the intellect and the ego, when happiness is looked for in outside circumstances, it most certainly is.

There is a greater experience of happiness, an experience that sets you free, which can only be experienced now and only by you. That experience is the essence of happiness – it is love.

It’s your intention to love that is the key to laughter, happiness and ultimately to your freedom in bliss.

How is happiness defined?

The ultimate definition of happiness is You.


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