What Is Happiness?
What Is Happiness?
Neal Tadken ( Associate Rector for Pastoral Care) gives expert video advice on: How do you define happiness?; Does everyone have the ability to be happy?; Who are the happiest people? and more...
How do you define happiness?
I think that happiness is a state of experiencing love through connection, while fulfilling purpose.
Does everyone have the ability to be happy?
I wish I could say that I thought everyone could be happy. Sadly to say, I think there are some people who are just so wounded that it would take some pretty miraculous things in their life to take them to a place where they could explore happiness in their lives. You know the world is a brutal place and we can be brutal people. There may be people out there who have been so damaged by the brutality of other people that they are not open to happiness.
Do you believe the average person is happy or unhappy?
It seems to me I have been reading news reports and studies that people are generally unhappy. So, I think I might go with that. I think I might agree that more people are unhappy than happy.
How does culture affect happiness?
Well I think the very nature of a consumerist society affects happiness - where in order to perpetuate our economic system we have to continually create more things to sell all the time, and then therefore market to people. And the way you market to people is either to create the need among them, tap into their most insecure sides, tapping into the holes in their lives. So they get more focused on the holes and what they think is going to fill that. But the more and more people try and fill themselves with stuff, product, technology, whatever it is that people are selling, I think it could easily create more despair than happiness.
What part does money play in happiness?
I think money plays a very small part in happiness. Of course it's easier to be unhappy when you have a lot of money. I mean, you can have an easy life and still be very unhappy and you can probably afford more distractions, and put off dealing with your unhappiness. But I've also read of studies where they have found that poor struggling single women have a higher happiness index than a C.E.O. of a fortune 5 hundred company. There's a real disconnect between money and happiness. Now, if your entire life is focused on survival then, money is going to increase your happiness crush more than if you have more money than you know to deal with and you're still lost.
What role do sex and romantic relationships play in happiness?
I think romantic and intimate relationships can and do play an important role in terms of our happiness and so much as a marriage becomes or a committed relationship becomes a laboratory for working out all those issues in ourselves; that keep us from connecting to others as well. If you can really enter into a healthy relationship with another intimate where you can be really focused on the good of the other and put aside the ego and have someone who is going to hold you on account of that because you've taken a vow or you've made some kind of promise to each other then it is hard to get away with stuff when someone gets to know you really that well and can call you on your stuff and say, you know, you're fouling me right now. And so our romantic relationships which end up not always being romantic, the romance helps us fuse more with that person, but the real work happens, when the romance is not around 24 hours a day, but it does give us the energy and the focus to hopefully enter in and stay connected with another human being in ways that you can't do with everyone.
What role does suffering play in happiness?
One of the reasons that I think the happiness that comes from being a service, is so important, is because sometimes our happiness comes through from the fact that we are in solidarity with someone who is suffering. And when we see them rise up, above the suffering – thought the suffering – and to a place of healing or wholeness or justice or whatever the issue is that is holding this person down… we get a glimpse of the blessedness and “wow” what joy that is.