Theory of Happiness
The concept of “happiness” has a multifaceted structure and it is difficult to systematize its content. To me, there are highlighted 4 major possible meanings of the term: 1) the favor of fate, luck; 2) state of intense joy; 3) possession of the highest good, the positive balance of life; 4) a sense of satisfaction with life. However, these four values are the most common, but none of them individually or all together does not exhaust the meaning of the concept. In addition, for each item, one can find a counterargument, proving that happiness does not necessarily have, for example, success or a positive balance of life. Every individual can bring a different understanding of the concept of happiness, form his/her own theory of happiness, then again all of them have some similarities.
Manifestations of Happiness
Happiness can be seen as a kind of motivated activity. As a motive, happiness exists as something self-evident, if not always aware of background activities, to varying degrees (depending on the person and the circumstances of life) defining life strategies in a complex manner (sometimes extremely conflicting ones) pervades the entire individual system of values. With regard to the mandatory characteristics of happiness, it is quite conditional. The pursuit of happiness is a natural desire, determined by the nature of a human being. Singling out these three “images” of happiness, people must be aware that, in its real, concrete being happiness exists as a complex “alloy” of assessment, command, motivations, which are specifically expressed in the language of emotional and psychological human machine.
Happiness as an ethic category. Happiness can be regarded as a complex interaction of objective and subjective, which has various manifestations. Any individual’s idea of a happy life, no matter how peculiar it may be, is not free from social influences, which impose a significant imprint on the entire system of valuable orientations of the person. The presence of social, i.e. objective traits, in relation to an individual determination of personal ideas about happiness and their implementation does not mean a fatal predetermination of human destiny. Different people behave differently even in similar social conditions, showing the ability (or inability) to maintain their personal autonomy, independence.
Overcoming oneself is a way of self-realization and this process is rewarding, but difficult, that is why is not valuable by many people. Orientation on “other” must not become an end in itself, impeding preservation of individuality and transforming human existence in a continuous “self-restraint.” The ideal combination is the harmony of objective and subjective, personal and social, but even in the presence of such a facility in the consciousness of the individual can hardly expect it simple, painless approval in practice. Different versions of disharmony, preventing, as a rule, to achieve happiness are determined not only by the characteristics of the individual but also adverse social circumstances of life. History of ethics leaves the humanity with a number of recommendations to achieve happiness in a destabilized environment. Many of them are quite relevant today.
The Purpose or Result? Happiness is often associated with the process of achieving a significant purpose or with its outcome. Both are equally important, but the individual characteristics of different people are often determined by their “bid” on just one thing. Many, for example, are consumed with a desire to get the result immediately, seeking any possible means to speed up the process of achieving and experiencing negative feelings at any slowdown. Others, however, are trying to delay the process, because (consciously or unconsciously) they are afraid of disappointment of reaching the goal. Indeed, the anticipation is sometimes a more pleasant exercise, especially for people with a strong imagination. Some people do not think about the strategic goals of life (either because of the primitiveness of their spiritual organization, or because of the perception of life as a process in which setting a goal is meaningless, and the like).
Happiness like an Emotional Experience. Happiness is a very “multicolored” emotional experience. Based on the positive (in general) assessment of one’s life, it includes a variety of emotional states, including negative. The identification of happiness with pleasure lasting continuously confuses the person setting to “sheer bliss” and distorts the system of values, generating, as a rule, a disappointing life.
Complexity, inconsistency, and multidimensional nature of human life is the basis for the diversity of its emotional perception, which intertwines joy and sadness. Deleting suffering from life is impossible, so the pursuit of happiness implies probably a willingness to suffer and have a correct attitude towards it. Since suffering has many faces, it is hard for people to classify it, highlighting, for example, the destructive and constructive suffering. These names may not be entirely successful, but they allow one to put a real problem. In fact, a destructive suffering destroys the most important value for the subject, makes a positive evaluation of their lives it impossible (temporarily or even permanently). The constructive suffering, by contrast, can enhance and enrich the feeling of happiness. The forms of both kinds of suffering and their measure is essentially determined by the individual characteristics.
The problem of happiness, unquestionably, is not confined to aspects outlined here. It should be noted that there is certain quantitative happiness, so to speak, the parameters. At various points in life, a person can feel either very happy, or absolutely miserable, or be somewhere in the middle between these two extreme states. Even the “first approximation” to study the problem of happiness allows people to see that this notion represents an extremely complex, multifaceted experience, in which contradictory unity combine subtle nuances of the individual perception of the world. Nevertheless, we can talk about some of the grounds of individualized perception of life, or, in other words, the conditions of happiness.
Conditions of Happiness
Happiness is most frequently associated with the ability of the individual to self-realization in various areas of life, making the spectrum of conditions of a happy life quite wide. The combination of these conditions, their subordination and significance can be defined as both objective and original subjective factors. Ethical traditions stand out as an essential condition of happiness of its foundation, bearing as it were timeless, “eternal” character. The same individual value orientations of the structure and content of happiness
It makes sense to elaborate on the conditions of happiness that are meaningful to the greatest number of people. For instance, optimal material needs have long been considered a condition of a happy life. The presence of material well-being, a certain feeling of existence for the majority of people are very important and are a prerequisite positive assessment of life. Poverty, hard work on the production of sustenance, limiting spiritual needs and their feasibility, often are perceived as determinants of unhappiness.
In the history of culture, there is a different attitude to the sphere of material being represented by the principle of austerity. Austerity requires renunciation of external goods, suppression of sensory needs to achieve more important goals. The forms of asceticism and thus more important goals offered to them are determined by the socio-cultural factors and are quite diverse, but they are based on a single basis - absolute spiritual significance, the implementation of which is possible only by eliminating the corporal. Despite the fact that the austerity limits the usefulness of a human being, it expresses a very important idea of the priority of spiritual values.
Given all this, it can be argued that the satisfaction of material needs should not become an end in itself, and as a condition of happiness is to be seen in the context of the chain of command values of a higher order. Installation on the paramount importance of spirituality, the relation of spiritual and material goods as the goals and means of activity is a strategically correct life orientation, which distortions prevent the achievement of happiness.
Telling the truth, happiness is also associated with self-realization, a disclosure of one’s internal potencies, spiritual wealth. Since the real spiritual wealth of the individual depends entirely on the wealth of his real relations, insofar communication is one of the main conditions of happiness. Nevertheless, not all communication has a positive value, and not every loneliness is a negative value. In order to play the role of happiness conditions, communication must have certain quantitative and qualitative parameters. Defining them is a special task analysis.
Having the highest moral values depends on people much more than they usually imagine. Human beings are constantly exposed to the temptation to explain their unhappiness, senselessness of existence, the lack of freedom only by “objective circumstances.” The tragedy of human existence, defined - indeed objectively - the inexorability of death, the inevitability of suffering, and disharmony of society cannot be eliminated, but one can “enlighten” it, soften, spiritualize. Ethics and psychology have always tried to help a person in solving this - the most difficult - task in life, offering a variety of options for building a meaningful, happy life. However, whatever model of happiness, freedom, the meaning of life we may be attached to, they can purchase individual value for an individual only when multiplied by moral creativity. Life wisdom associated with the ability to exercise the freedom, to create and implement individuality (not to the detriment of others). To do this, the main case is sparing neither time nor mental energy.