1. Happiness is… What do I need to be happy? Are all who have that, happy? Can I be happy without those things? Why do we want happiness?
If my basic needs are met, why am I not happier? If all my needs/desires/goals are met (Alexander), why seek escapism?
2. Happiness is a sense of well-being; unmarred by anxiety, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, despair, discontent, dissatisfaction, loneliness.
Enhanced by: joy, peace, contentment, +relationships, fulfilled desire, pleasure, possessions, power (security/significance), success, love, affection.
Enduring happiness is developed by training/disciplining the mind and emotions; it's transitory if relative, or circumstantially/emotionally based.
3.Truth (what best explains all the facts) is sought by senses (Soph & Aris), reason (alone: Soc & Plato), or Revelation (Jew, Christ, Islam)
Greek Philosophy rejected myth, but affirmed an Ultimate Reality responsible for the unity and order of the universe. Relative vs Absolutes.
4. Sumerians: literature marked by uncertainty, anxiety, depression, despair. Gilgamesh was a depressed escapist. (and he was part god)
Egyptians: find immortality and peace by becoming part, or as one, with the perennial cyclic rhythms of Nature sacred-texts.com/bos/bos446.
Persians: (Zoroaster) by good thoughts/words/deeds support, good/bad god, resulting in radiating happiness to others, peace on judgment day.
Sophists: relativistic accumulation of power, pleasure, and possessions, by any means, to satisfy instincts and passions (animal)
5. Socrates: Senses suspect; Universal values discovered by reason, shape human character to achieve moral excellence, the purpose of life.
Plato: Evil is a lack of knowledge; if we find good, we will do it. (Goodness is absolute). Need virtuous habits and mental powers.
Problem: man is innately and environmentally evil; Hierarchical (and even evil) values obscure and blind us to good.
6. Aristotle: Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue (passions governed by noble objectives). Golden mean. Passion ruled by reason. Eat how much? Habit of: Courage (coward-rash); Liberality (wasteful-frugal); Pride (vain-humble); Temperance (abstinence-abuse of pleasure) etc “The duty of the state: provide citizens with material goods as individual and collective defense and security, the possibility of self-development, which would not be otherwise available. But above all it is to direct men to the attainment of happiness through virtue.” radicalacademy.com Prob: Need training in self-control/discipline to act according to knowledge to choose what is best (mean); passion; no mean (promise)
7. Epicurus (Hedonism): Sole good=Pleasure, not sensual gratification, but freedom from pain & worry, reason & withdrawal of friends
Prob: no service of the state that made life possible (soldier gets drunk); self-centeredness is hollow; inadequate to explain sacrifice
Zeno (Stoicism) Highest good=Virtue, live reason & will in harmony w/ divine will (nature); Vice=desire/emotion contrary to reason.
Submission to/acceptance of divine will gives inner peace, living above circumstances as one serves the divine spark in all mankind.
Prob: Fatalistic predestination lessens +action; indifference to externals lessens love; passion repressed
8. OT You control your happiness: God reveals Himself as the God who loves to bless (Genesis 1:27; 12:1). By actively seeking what God wants, and then pleasing Him we get in a place of blessing (Abraham leaving Ur). Psalm 1 “Blessed/happy is the man who…does not….but his delight is in…” cf Joshua 1:8; Dt 10:13 “commands for (our) good” Psalm 23 LORD is shepherd, I shall not want.
Solomon (Ecclesiastes wisdom literature) pursuit of power, pleasure and possessions independent of God is vanity. Pick your consequences.
9. Christianity shift your values in accord with Truth and love (doing what is in another’s highest interest); Matthew 5-7 Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes=blessed; Philippians: Joy results for choosing what is right/best (OT wisdom=choosing right objectives & right means of obtaining those objectives); Suffering meritorious 1Peter 3:14; 4:414; James 5:11; Passion is good if channeled correctly.
10. Islam Submission to the Will of Allah (God) and his prophet Muhammad (five pillar ritual) brings paradise
Sura 5:69 “ If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: But many of them follow a course that is evil. Sura 30:15 Then those who have believed and worked righteous deeds, shall be made happy in a Mead of Delight”
11. The Pursuit of Happiness -David Myers “We've also pondered things that do enable happiness:
- fit and healthy bodies; realistic goals and expectations; positive self-esteem; feelings of control; optimism; outgoingness;
- supportive friendships that enable companionship and confiding; a socially intimate, sexually warm, equitable marriage;
- challenging work and active leisure, punctuated by adequate rest and retreat
- a faith that entails communal support, purpose, acceptance, outward focus, and hope.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
- What makes you happy and why? How does happiness differ from pleasure (external, momentary, sense)?
- How is it that something that once made us happy (bicycle, school, job, spouse, etc) can lose its appeal or even make us unhappy?
- If happiness is not something which randomly alights on folks, how can you make the bluebird of happiness a constant companion?
- Accept or Reject: My highest happiness always lies in the direction of obedience to the revealed will of God?
- What can you start doing to discipline your thinking and emotions so that you insure your future enduring happiness?