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Is There Such A Thing As Happiness?

Question:

I am wondering, is there someone In this whole world who is actually happy, and satisfied with everything they have? Or, am I searching for something that does not even exist? I know there is a happy moment but that just fades away with time. Then, the sadness seems so much bigger. Sadness is easy to find, but happiness isn’t and, personally, I haven’t found it. Therefore, I am asking, is it really there?

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Answer:

You are asking one of the great existential questions that has plagued philosophers and psychologists for all of time, “Is there such a thing as happiness and, if the answer is yes, what is it?”

The answer to the question is, I believe, rooted in the other great existential question, “Is there any meaning to life?”

Some of our great psychologists and psychiatrists, such as Rollo May and Irwin Yalom, state that it is vital for each person to find meaning in his or her life. Further, that meaningfulness relies upon human relatedness and interaction. All of us need one another and find fulfillment knowing that we have an impact on others.

In my opinion, the word “happiness” lacks any real meaning. You are right in saying that we have moments of elation or excitement but they fade. Rather than relying on a vague and fleeting concept like “happiness,” I believe it makes more sense to speak of feeling balanced, free of the types of depression and anxiety that are long term and chronic. Having said this, it is necessary to be aware that emotions go in cycles. Therefore, we have our ups and downs including the sadness of loss, sickness and other crises.

In essence, the ability to work, have deep relationships and to play, all constitute what may be called “happiness.”

I am making a guess but your email carries with it hints of chronic depression. If that is true then, it would be a good idea for you to seek psychotherapy. Perhaps you life feels empty and meaningless. If so, psychotherapy is a good idea.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • Cathy

    I read an article about Brad Pitt and they asked him if he were happy and he said that he did not look at it that way but looked at it as to whether he was satisfied with his life. Yeah, he has money but he is really doing something with his life. The kids, showing up after the hurricane to see what he could do, things like that I am guessing make him feel "satisfied" with who he is and with what he is doing with his life. Isn't what would make you feel satisfied in your life what it is about rather than being "happy". I see "happy" as moment and "satisfied" as enduring.

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