Happiness: what a beautiful word. Have you ever wondered where it came from? Have you ever wondered what this means to you? Have you ever wondered why we are all looking for her? In these lines, you can discover your own answers to begin to find out how happy you are.
The concept of happiness
From the founding of civilization to the present day, many people have reflected on this construction that we call happiness, so that, as Elsa Punset aptly writes in Bones, the study of happiness “rather than discovery, it is a “reunion” with the thoughts and conclusions of other humans before us.
Other humans who were and are thinkers, explorers of different cultures, artists, poets, neuroscientists who study the brain, philosophers who “love knowledge”, sociologists who analyze society, anthropologists who compare cultures, psychologists who, if “the study of the mind,” They try to scroll the mental web that is the logos or knowledge of human happiness.
Its etymological originTherefore, it also depends on the observed civilization. On the one hand, it is related to the Greek root eudaimonia (eudaimonia) which literally means “good fortune”.
If we break the word down into its two elements: me, which means “good”, and we give it, which means “divinity”, the key to happiness was placed by the Greeks in the one who has a good spirit, or who is in a good mood.
It is the same for Anglo-Saxon countries by appealing to the concept of “favorable luck”, as in the sense of happiness, which comes from Happen: arriving by chance. Or we can also understand in German, Glück, de Gelingen, which literally means “to have a good success”; Note that in English Luck (or Good luck) is equivalent to the Germanic word Glück. Interesting, isn’t it?
The mental side of the happy person
From a cognitive point of view, happiness can be described as a series of thoughts on our emotions which produce in us an inner, deep and lasting well-being. The same definition of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), we might think, confirms the above:
joy; from the side. congratulations, -atis. F. State of pleasurable spiritual and physical satisfaction. F. Person, situation, object or all of them that contribute to being happy. F. No disadvantages or obstacles.
At present, this has generated a recurring confusion between the terms eudaimonia and hedonism (Hedoné-ἡδονή), since, as positive psychology states, the finality of human life is happiness, sometimes misunderstood as pleasure, (Cfr Bé, 2005; Lozano et al., 2016) in Colmenarejo Fernández, R. (2017). And I say wrongly because pleasure does not equal happiness, but pleasure by definition must always be relegated to a part of our complete happiness. I will develop this idea in my next article.
And maybe it is that the purpose of human life is not to live happily, but only to live. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to understand pleasure as a means and not as an end? The difference, then, is that while hedonism focuses on immediate pleasure, which we might now call joy, udaimonia is the constant fullness of life, which we might now call happiness.
Happiness is something everyone thinks about but not many people study. While we may never agree on the exact definition of happiness, it is rather one of those things that you can’t define, but when you see it you know what it is. And the reality is that each individual, depending on the culture in which he finds himself so desperately immersed, and his personal experiences, form a lifelong conception of his own happiness.
During my research on the subject, I realized that the pursuit of happiness is a very relevant thing in our current society because it involves many people, and most human beings want to be happy.
At the time of writing this article, I have a sample of 275 people aged 7-108. With 66% women and 34% men, the vast majority of Spanish nationality. 50% live in urban areas and 50% in rural areas. The current occupation is to study or to work, or both.
The key question
The first question I ask someone who wants to know how happy they are is: how are you?
Overall, most people say it is “good”. Okay, people are fine, but being well doesn’t necessarily mean being happy. And the results show that 9 out of 10 people will tell you that they are looking to be happy. The remaining person thinks so too, but won’t tell you.
But what is happiness? Fernández-Berrocal already wrote in his article that “the attempt to answer this question may seem pretentious and it is natural for the reader to think about it, because even the one asking the question shakes his hand while writing it”. I think the same is happening to me.
But I don’t mind and shouldn’t worry about it. Because what I am proposing (and perhaps this is the key to the necessary paradigm shift) is wondering how happy people are, instead of wondering over and over again what happiness is. In this way, it is only by changing what is passive for what is proactive that we will come to understand happiness as a personal decision and not as an object that can – or debated – be achieved.
The message is clear: the study of happiness and all that it entails is a subject of great importance to the human species. If we live happily, we live longer and better. Ultimately, you will find that while thinking about happiness is in the hands of a few, the pursuit of happiness is universal.
- Colmenarejo Fernández, R. (2017). The problem of happiness in Aristotle: answers from Francisco Suárez and Martha Nussbaum. Annals of the Francisco Suárez Chair, 51, 27-27.
- Julián Pérez Porto and Maria Merino. Published: 2009. Updated: 2009. Definicion.de: Definition of happiness (https://definicion.de/felicidad/).
- The five thieves of happiness. John Izzo, 2017 (Urà).
- To take the online happiness quiz, enter the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/gMHJcbvLRRiQCrew2.