I think what you`re saying is similar to the philosophy (that I find the most harmony with) of Victor Frankl. It`s not what happens to you, it`s your response to it (at the risk of sounding "PC" and cliche). Happiness therefore is a DECISION. You decide-- long before the nervous system transmits electronic impulses-- to be happy. It`s a state of being. A personal way about you-- the anecdote for this is (again) every miserable person you`ve ever known.
There`s also a distinction between doing the right things and being happy, vs. being happy and doing the right things. For example, another cliche is to be happy via an "attitude of gratitude" but perhaps it`s that happy people have that attitude FIRST.
When you get right down to it, I think happiness has everything to do with the ability / willingness to choose it. The choice precipitates, in my mind, the attitudes, etc.
OR, maybe happiness is a self-fulfilling cycle?-- you choose to be happy, so you do things in a good spirit, and have a good attitude, and those things in turn produce results or stimulus that reinforce the choice / attitude so that perhaps happiness DOES result from outside stimulus-- with the catch being that unless the individual chooses to start the "cycle of happiness".
Hmmmm. This is good food for thought though-- great thread.
OK, so I had a wonderful Cuban meal next door and I might have had an extra Mojito tonight, but...what??? I don`t get it.
I would say that while it`s not exactly my own view, that a critical component of happiness is finding meaning in suffering. I`m 36 (on Tuesday), healthy, I have a good marriage-- healthy wife and son, I have all the money I need-- my circumstances are wonderful and I`m grateful for my current blessings, I`m also mindful of times past when things weren`t so good.
My stress level was higher, and there were moments of frustration, but it would be inaccurate to say I was unhappy.
Suffering in life is the norm-- it`s good times that are the exception. This is why I think if you can`t find meaning in suffering, you have no hope of ever being happy.
One of the characteristics of GREAT people (if not happy people) is that they STICK in tough times. If happiness becomes your idol, your holy grail-- and you add to that a definition of happiness that is dependent on circumstances-- you will flit off in search of it at the first obstacle, difficulty, or sign of struggle.
In a more controversial, and non-PC aspect of my opinion-- I would say it is a character flaw to be in constant search of "happiness" in some magic circumstance. Horribly "judgemental", I know. But the fact is if I know this about you- how can I trust you? Can I marry you, or partner with you in business, or even just have a semi-meaningful friendship? Sure-- if things are hunky-dory. But when the proverbial excrement hits the proverbial fan-- you`re outta here. Or, you`re so unhappy as to be a basket case-- useless.
I`ve known people like this-- as I eluded to in my original post I think we are witnessing a collective generational hangover from the philosophy of "do whatever makes you happy". All of the sudden the free-lovin`, good-time-rockn rollin` generation wants what I think every human being wants-- a sense of meaning. What did it all mean? I think the conclusion has been that it didn`t mean much.
Case in point-- read the Chicago Tribune Profile on Judy Mayotte today-- headline: "I`ve Always Been Lucky".
Dig into the article you find that she works with refugees in Capetown, South Africa. She was pushed out of her troubled home as a child, became a nun, and an international expert on the displaced. She was stricken with polio and learned to walk again, after leaving her order to marry the love of her life- she was widowed, she became an acclaimed producer, and author.
You know what she said when a relief pilot misdjudged an airlift of emergency food while she was working in the Sudan-- dropping a 200 lb bag on her leg, breaking it in 10 places, and jamming her knee into her femur so that her leg had to be amputated? "Fortunately, the leg knocked off was my polio leg".
I don`t know about you, but I can count a half dozen people I know that a) Haven`t done a 10% of the real, actual work she`s done; and b) who would have been down and out if any ONE of the tradgedies that have befallen her had happened to them.
Read the article and you find she`s quite happy.