Yes, but what _is_ happiness, Darius?

You have written a beautiful meditation on happiness Darius and I agree with you that it is not about genes or predetermined happiness, and that it can be contextual and we can be happy if we want.

One of the things we need to discuss here is the notion of happiness that is often discussed as if happiness is a “way” to do something else, or the utility of being happy. The elephant in the room is what is happiness? There seems to be no consensus as to how we define happiness? The greeks would have you believe that it is eudaimonia, i.e., if you are “innately good”, you will be happy, a sort of self fulfilment. Most behavioural studies would define happiness or measure people’s happiness from self-reports. Indeed our nursery rhymes would exhort children to do actions if _they knew_ they were happy (“If you are happy and you know, clap your hands” kind of notions). The point is, how do we know we are happy?

You have not touched that either here, and a conversation on that note is due, Darius. Without knowing or defining happiness, achieving _that_ remains ephemeral.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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