The Types and Meanings of Happiness
Every day we go about our lives, each of them different, each of them identifying with a sort of roller coaster of emotions, but all have the same goal. Everyone is looking for inner happiness. Some spend their whole life searching for happiness and others simply find it. “Happiness is a strong meaningful word that contains between it letters a lot of human’s way of life, disappointments and rejoicing.” (The Pursuit) Webster’s dictionary states that happiness is “ a state of well-being and contentment.”
But it is actually much bigger than a simple dictionary definition. That’s why humans must never underestimate the power of intangible feeling. Is happiness found through an acceptance of what one already has? Or is it found through a search for more?
Happiness is achieved through the search for more. Naturally, humans are genetically driven to want more. More land, more money, more sex – history has proven this time and time again. Take for example shopping, which is sometimes referred to as retail therapy. There is an aspect to shopping that’s not therapeutic at all. Shopping for some does indeed provide comfort, but it also stimulates the desire to have things, and being in the state of desire isn’t always necessarily a comfortable place to be.
Naturally, we don’t desire what we already have in our possession. American companies and corporations tend to promote desire, and we as Americans tend to idealize desire, but desire is actually a condition of wanting and emptiness. Desire is restless, and when we desire it’s hard to focus on much else.
In German neurologist Sigmund Freud’s “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” Freud studies the idea of nirvana and concludes that the great calm that follows from no longer wanting can only be stopped by death itself. Freud states, “desire has an ulterior motive that lies well beyond acquisition, which is precisely the peacefulness of nirvana. What we desire when we desire is not climax and crescendo, but the relief to which they lead.” (Freud 104) If you translate that into shopping terms it is suggesting that our desire is not the objects that we buy, but the relief that comes from actually buying the things and no longer having to desire them.
This fact can also be compared to the common saying that if you’re doing what you love for a living that you’ll never work a day in your life. How can one be satisfied with what one has, is just a boing desk job? While a artist or architect who has a passion for creating things are always reaching for the next project, eager to move on to another piece they can be proud of, always searching to pursue the thing that makes them the happiest.
Another reason that happiness is found through a search for more is because it’s the chase that’s the fun part. Some people just aren’t satisfied with sitting around. It’s the active search for an object or place of desire that provides happiness to the person. As the philosopher Souza said – “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”
The search for happiness is the greatest motivator of mankind. Without that motivator, our society would not be what it is today. It would be so different that it couldn’t possibly be imagined by anyone. The importance of the pursuit of happiness is reiterated in the U.S Constitution. “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; …” The fact that this statement is in the constitution stresses how important the drive to be happy truly is for people. Not only is it important, but as American citizens, it is a God given right.
There are more than one types of happiness. Material happiness come from the possession of material objects, but emotional happiness strings from people or events that influence the way you feel about life. In order to achieve emotional happiness you have to go out and find these people, places, or events in order to make you feel the way you want to feel.
And Material happiness is like the new iPhone coming out, once it does – your old iPhone becomes not good enough, and you’ve got to wait in line for seven hours at the Apple store to get the band new one – but either way to achieve either of these types of happiness you’ve got to have the pursuit of whatever “it” is.
Unfortunately, when happiness is our end goal and we approach it this way, it may lead to less happiness because the more we value happiness the more likely we are to expect happiness and to set higher happiness standards that are difficult to obtain. But humans crave challenges in life, and debatably thats what makes us human.
We have the ability and motivation to better ourselves and challenge ourselves and thats whats separates us from being animals. As author Sarah Fenerty said “There is no perfect recipe for attaining a state of happiness.” But the pursuit of happiness is what drives us to keep going, even if things get tough. Happiness is found in a life journey through the search for more.
“Declaration of Independence: Rough Draft.” Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Fenerty, Sarah. “Happiness Is the Journey, Not the Destination.” The Daily Quirk. N.p., 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Sigmund Freud. 1922. Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” Sigmund Freud. 1922. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“The Pursuit of Happiness.” The Pursuit of Happiness. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.