The Truth of Happiness
Definitions of happiness from historical global great minds:
Aristotle– The goal of life is the pursuit of happiness. What constitute happiness? Virtue, a fair degree of world good, a good mind (achievement), and friendship. Plato and Socrates shared similar viewpoints.
Chuang-tzu– Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
Spinoza: a transition, the power to maintain one’s being.
Hegal: The history of the world is not the theater of happiness. Periods of Happiness are blank pages in it.
Schopenhauer: Happiness dies when it is not shared. We can never have lasting happiness or peace. The wise man seeks not pleasure but freedom from pain and care.
New Testament (founding document of western civilization) mentioned happiness just 6 times and never in a happy context.
Donald Trump: Happiness is momentary, doing things positive and achieving goal.
Other sayings from not so well-known individuals:
The greatest Happiness for a thinking man is to fathom the fathomable; and quietly revere the unfathomable.
A large income is the best recipe for Happiness.
Man’s happiness is the result of man’s effort.
That action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest Number.
The reality of happiness
I Ching (hexagram 58, pursuit of joy): key conditions for joy: financial independence, education, sharing spirit, friendship. Summing up these attributes, Work before play! A man’s happiness is the result of his sown effort.
These attributes were very close to the ancient Greek philosophers. That was exactly how Chuang Tuz got inspired to remark: Happiness is the absence of striving for it.
When people try to be happy for the sake of being happy with drinking and excessive eating without working, they will end up in sorrow.
In essence, I Ching practically covers the viewpoints of global great minds over history.
How to evaluate the validity of such attributes? We follow reality; we look for the happiest people in reality to see how they measure up to these attributes.
During the 1980-90s, Icelanders happened to be happiest people. What are the attributes?
Good education, high income, strong community spirit, open-mindedness to
pursue opportunities and meet challenges. They all fell into the frame of I Ching truth and other great minds who revere the truth.
However, the happiness index among the Icelanders declined during the last ten years or so, following the deterioration of their land quality and other resources; it finally fell to a chasm in 2008 following the financial tsunami. Conclusion: Financial security is the key to happiness.
(Note: the same survey showed poor countries stay in the bottom rank in happiness index)
In recent years, Denmark has risen as the happiest country. Reasons? Its citizens are comprehensively provided with free medical care, education all the way to college, and other unemployment benefits. Again, financial security stands out as the key to be happy.
One can argue that many wealthy people are miserable. Evidently, money does not buy everything but without money, no one can buy anything. We have to remember also that given the identical condition/circumstance, no one is equally happy. Our DNA comes into play! People in both Iceland and Denmark share the ethnic traits of Danes, hardy, courageous, content folks who conveniently survive hardship even though they are the richest in the world.
(This is the summary of a chapter in Succeed Naturally, the I Ching Way)