What is Happiness?

What we are talking about when we say “happiness?” Happiness means many different things to many different people. Happiness is a higher-level pursuit or achievement. Several authors and philosophers have captured this concept:


Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk with a degree in Molecular Genetics, and author of the book Happiness says “Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that pervades and underlies all emotional states and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way.”


Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”


Gandhi also said “Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.”


Robert Ingersoll stated “Happiness is not a reward – it is a consequence.”

Deepak Chopra said “Happiness is more than a mood. Its a long-lasting state that is more accurately called well-being.”


Wayne Dyer, a self-development author and speaker, explains that “Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think.”

Margaret Lee Runbeck, another author, wrote “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”

Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle proposed that “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”


George Sheehan, a doctor and author, wrote “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.”

And finally, John B. Sheerin said “Happiness is not in our circumstances but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are.”

They all describe happiness as something that is within you, something that you create, rather than something that comes from external forces.

What is happiness?

  1. Happiness is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
  2. Happiness is a sense of inner peace vs. external restlessness.
  3. Happiness is an on-going state of well-being vs. a fleeting experience.
  4. Happiness is a state of mind, rather than an event or activity.
  5. Happiness includes bad as well good experiences.
  6. Happiness is internal and not a victim of external experiences that we can’t control.
  7. Happiness is created, not received.
  8. Happiness is within our control.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How to get Happy – 4 Concepts connected to Leadership and Success

Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success.   I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.


Your first test on happiness:

  1. Do you want to:
    1. Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
    2. Experience happiness as a state of mind?

If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever.  However, if you choose B, then we, the team at, have a lot to share that may be helpful.


Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities.  This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well.   Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.


Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.

The first concept is understanding the difference between Pleasure and Happiness.   Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time, or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise,  finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life.  The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short-term at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.



The second concept is taking control of your life.   George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “  Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions?  Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?


The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships.  Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad?  Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to?  The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.


The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning.  The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on?  Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do?  For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits.  Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.


In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:

  1. Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
  2. Take control of your life and your happiness.
  3. Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
  4. Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.


As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.


Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired.   It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits.    It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis.   Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at

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