Life and philosophy are fundamentally intertwined. Philosophy arises from the organization of knowledge. It originally involved teaching, learning, schools, and so forth, but modern people tend to believe it`s now about abstract questions of metaphysics, and impractical problems to which nobody has any solutions. Not true.
Philosophy is a way to place a context around random information. It`s a way to make organization out of the chaos of daily life, observations, thoughts, problems, questions, and goals. It includes the nature and meaning of terms we hope we understand, but upon further examination, we discover are empty words: like "happiness."
Happiness differs from joy in that happiness is a moving (dynamic) event. You move through days with happiness increasing or decreasing according to....something. Joy is a momentary (static) event; a reaction to....something.
Ayn Rand proposed, and I concur, that happiness is made up of a handful of specific "target" activities. The closer we come to gaining or accomplishing those goals, the more happy we are. The less we achieve in those goals, the less happy we are. Those areas of interest include:
* Productive work
* Human relationships
* Interaction with art
* Creative outlet
* Sensual intimacy
These aren`t the only areas, but we can each break down our daily life and ask specific questions about each target. For example, "Was I productive today? Did I accomplish something?" "Did I interact with anyone today and was it good or bad?"
If the answer is yes, we can almost (not quite) assign a number value to the yes, no, maybe, not sure, responses. Same with each other area. By averaging out the results to each question, we really can come up with a quantifiable sense--almost a number--of just how happy we are.
The problem is that everyone claims they want to be happy, but almost nobody knows how to define that state. How do you know if you`re happy or unhappy if you can`t state what it is you`re trying to be? It`s like "success," where the best people come up with is that success differs for each person. So what? That doesn`t help anyone determine if they`re successful or not. So they toss it into the grab-bag of "feelings," and leave it as an entirely subjective mishmash.
Philosophy ought to be involved in pointing out pathways, asking real questions, and offering at least some kind of objective solutions. It isn`t about sitting in some dank classroom, yammering about the difference between "thee and thou," or how many angels fit on a pin. Philosophers ask questions about "what if," and scientists, inventors, business people, and everyone else go out and try to make it happen. Philosophers are supposed to challenge the status quo, "activists" go out and change the world. Philosophy is supposed to offer a sense of certainty and understanding, not promote uncertainty and confusion.
Happiness, joy, and success, all are words. The realm of human understanding that deals with words is Semantics, a division of philosophy. Without words, we can`t think...we can`t retain our thoughts. And without definitions, words have no meaning. Consider Helen Keller and her inability to even define her sense of "I" without language.
And so, happiness is a judgement or evaulation of where you stand in relation to the various themes of life. Joy is your response when you encounter the ideal. That ideal is your own interpretation of an ideal, but when you encounter it in the real world, your response is in that moment. Happiness is an active attempt to change the world around you. Joy is a passive response to the changes you`ve made or that you encounter.