The word happiness has the most ambiguous definition I have ever encountered. When exactly do we say that a person is happy? Epicurus maintains that anybody can be happy regardless of one’s economic status. He agitates for friends, freedom, and an examined life as the components of true happiness and exposes material possessions and financial wealth as wrong places where one would look for true happiness. Michael Norton argues that spending money on someone else rather than on oneself is a means of buying happiness (Ken par. 3). He adds that spending money on oneself makes that person neither happy nor unhappy; it has no impact regarding the happiness level on the individual spender.
On the other hand, PBS site defines happiness as a combination of pleasure-“feel good”, engagement- living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies, and meaning- “using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose”. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement means leading a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning implies using our strengths to contribute to a larger goal. Seligman adds that all three are crucial, engagement and meaning make the greatest change to living a happy life (Ken par. 6). However, in the poem, Richard Cory, material possession turns out to be non-aspect of happiness.
All the descriptions of what happiness is are possible recipes for happiness but there is something unique about happiness (Michael par. 11). For instance, you may find that a poor person is happier than a rich person and vice versa depending on whether either has achieved their objectives in life within their varied spiritual, political or economic contexts or not. In conclusion, happiness is a derivative of achieving one’s goals in life regardless of economic status; it has a direct correlation with the intent of everyone’s life objectives. One of the philosophers once said that unexamined life is not worth living, and the question is that to what extent is the examination of life worthwhile.
A person may have wealth, friends, and family yet he is not happy. I tend to think that happiness is a unique feeling of satisfaction that a person derives from achievement of his targets or when events occur in line with his expectations. For instance, during a football match, a football fan may be unhappy if his team loses while another fan whose team has won the match feels very excited (Ken par. 9). A Christian may feel happy for the sole reason that he recognizes the Lord as his savior and that is exactly what triggers his feelings of happiness. In the academic environment, a bright student may be so sad because he has failed to score an A grade in mathematics, yet an average student who scores a C feels very happy. So then, what exactly is the meaning of this term, happiness?
In conclusion, in my own experience, I would say that happiness is the inner feeling of satisfaction and excitement that every person derives from meeting his targets or finding that events are favoring his predictions and expectations. All the definitions in the factual summary are peripherals of this definition. Happiness goes beyond riches and poverty, it is a reflection of the inner feelings and expectations that either ignites or extinguishes it.
Ken Burns. This Emotional Life: Happiness. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. < http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/happiness/what-happiness >
Michael Norton: How to buy happiness. Nov 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. < http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness?language=en >