What is happiness? What are the elements to call someone happy? How do we measure happiness? Many people think that happiness is enjoyment, that being happy is being in a state of enjoyment. When someone enjoys watching movies, he or she thinks or feels that he or she is happy. When he or she enjoys being with his or her friends, he or she feels that he or she is happy. But, is happiness limited to enjoyment? I think not. Happiness is not limited to enjoyment. It is more than enjoyment. Happiness is a state of well-being.
What makes someone happy is his or her contentment and fulfillment. Being contented with everything makes someone happy. Fulfilling he or she wants makes him or her happy. Happiness in life depends on one’s desire. But this desire is not temporary. This desire is something that the person really wants. What one really wants is to live well. Living well is being in a state of contentment and fulfillment. All human actions are geared to this desire to live well, to be contented and fulfilled. Borrowing from Aristotle, it is the end of human actions. All actions are made because we want to be contented and fulfilled. All of us want things. Yet, the things themselves are not what we want to achieve. It is the contentment and fulfillment that we want in these things. We value things because of the contentment they can give to us. Having the things we want, therefore, makes us happy.
But, happpiness is yet more than acquiring what we want. This is because happiness is not dependent on things. When these things don’t exist anymore, we may become unhappy again. That’s not happiness, per se. Happiness does not change. When we are happy, we are actually living well. Living well does not include unhappiness. Contentment and fulfillment, therefore, do not depend on material things.
To make things clear, there is a measurement to gauge if one is truly happy. Before one dies, on the death bed, one may ask a very fundamental question: Am I happy with all that I have done while living in this world? Of course, it’s very subjective. But the point of the question is to ask if someone is really happy. Yet, even while one is healthy and young, one can still ask: Am I happy? This question will lead the person to examine his or her life. “I’m happy” is a phrase I think that fundamentally encompasses the meaning of living well.