What Makes A Person Happy? Essay

1564 words - 6 pages

Everybody wants to be happy. Parents want their children to have a happy childhood and a happy life, people wish newlyweds a happy married life, and when someone passes on, they say, “S/he had a happy life,” as if that is comforting to those who are already missing the person and who are very unhappy. Why is happiness so important to people? Perhaps it is because humans are competitive by nature and one person exaggerates his/her happiness so that others are envious. Maybe it is because humans like to be distracted by a story and if they can believe someone actually achieves perfect happiness, then they can hold out hope for themselves. What is happiness exactly? No one knows because everyone defines it differently. In general though, happiness is an overall feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. If that is the case, then happiness seems easy enough to achieve, but whether humans are actually capable of realizing they are in the state of happiness though is another issue.
Just about every important event in life is presented as a milestone on the road to happiness. Childhood is supposed to be a happy time where the child is protected and kept from fear and danger. Getting one’s driver’s license is seen as a step toward that child’s independence, his freedom, his happiness. Graduating from high school and going to college or entering the work force is another step toward independence, freedom, and happiness. Getting married is usually done because the person one chooses as a spouse makes them happy. Having children makes a person happy usually, hopefully. The career one chooses makes one happy hopefully, or at least it makes one flush with cash if not happy, perhaps rich is the next best thing. Looking forward to retiring after working 30, 40, 50 years should also result in happiness. Finally, looking back on a successful life, full of accomplishments and children who make one proud to be their parents are all ingredients to happiness. Yet, so many other things fill in the gaps throughout a lifetime that surely those big milestones are not the only aspects of happiness there are.
Philosophers would say that happiness may not be all that humans think it is. In fact, some philosophers say that it may not even be key to living a satisfactory life. Some philosophers look at happiness as a state of mind, which then is a psychological matter. Others define happiness as being in a state of life going well. Dan Haybron of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, “’Happiness’ . . . concerns what benefits a person, is good for her, makes her better off, serves her interests, or is desirable for her for her sake. To be high in well-being is to be faring well, doing well, fortunate, or in an enviable condition” (Haybron). So happiness to philosophers who look at it in this second definition of the word see happiness as a state of being well off in a financial sense because there are no money worries. Also, one has found love because they are well-off in...

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