When we seek to be happy are we being selfish ? When we seek to raise our level of happiness in difficult times is that wrong or perhaps even immoral ?
The idea of seeking Happiness can be a source of contention, often misunderstood and seen in a very selfish light , I think the key here is to clearly define happiness. I also think that we have a difficult time separating the concepts of pleasure and happiness in our brains, once again the English language can take some of the blame. Consider the various uses in the English language of the word pleasure
noun – a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
adjective – used or intended for entertainment rather than business.
verb- give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to.
“Pleasure” clearly has a mostly selfish connotation. Now how about Happiness ?
noun- the state of being happy
“Happiness” on the other hand is as pure and clean as it comes ! I’ll be very honest, before I started writing this, that correlation would have never occurred to me in this way ! I think when a lot of people hear someone say they seek to find and share “happiness” the meaning gets lost and interpreted as selfish
Happiness is an inner resource, you may recall in one of my last posts (The Happiness Bank – Be A Happiness Ninja) I alluded to “banking” happiness in our brains, the notion that levels of happiness can literally be stored for future use. Banking happiness means building up your inner resources to be used for yourself or shared with others as needed. Happiness simply cannot exist, much less grow in a selfish environment. Selfishness never leads to Happiness.
Have you ever contemplated (before now) the meaning of the word happiness and how it relates to the way you think about the concept ? My experience while writing this was that my brain actually had a hard time coming up with a meaning that wasn’t really the descriptor for something else ! Look again at the dictionaries definition
noun- the state of being happy
Seems so clear when I read it but definitely not what my brain was coming up with!
Slightly different way to think about happiness, we have all but eliminated the notion of happiness being selfish but, with all the negatives going on in the world, the constant bickering, all the news stories with varying degrees of sad news, is it selfish, wrong or in some way immoral to seek happiness ? Pursuing personal happiness is actually a selfless endeavor. In a world filled with negatives we need people to be happier because happy people help to make other people happy! When people are happy their best traits shine through, the things we need most in bad times, patience,generosity, forgiveness, energy, lightheartedness, productivity, helpfulness, likability, creativeness, resilience, friendliness, health, and an interest in others. In this light it almost seems immoral to not strive for happiness and is in actuality the least selfish thing we can possibly do 🙂
Or if your into quotes, this one sums it all up quite nicely
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”