What is happiness?

(I originally planned to make this a long and detailed article on a bunch of topics which are all related to “happiness”. Unfortunately I ran out of time, so this is not a complete article, but rather just a collection of links to other articles and the books that I found helpful. I might write a lot more here in the future. )

Basically, whenever you read words like happy, blissful (particularly in Eternal Blissful Life), content, high (mental) well-being, etc…, you should think of these words as a good combination of the explanations in the following Wikipedia articles:


I also thing this Wikipedia article on “Contributing Factors to Well-Being” is also well worth reading.

My view on happiness is mostly formed by this book Positive Psychology in a Nutshell – the science of happiness  by Ilona Boniwell, which I can highly recommend. The content of this book is basically the Wikipedia articles above, plus some practical hands-on advice on how to improve your well-being.


The definition of “happiness” is tricky and the links above only represent our current best guesses. I am pretty sure these definitions will change and improve in the future as we make progress in psychology and our understanding of different states of consciousness.
In his books, Sam Harris provides a nice analogy between the concept of “happiness” and the concept of “health”. It is really hard to define what it really means to be “healthy”. Is it merely the absence of diseases? What if you are completely “healthy” except minor inflammations in our body (which we all have constantly at every given moment)? Does being healthy also mean being fit, having lots of stamina? Right now, you would probably describe a 60-year old man who runs a marathon and does not have any illnesses as “healthy”. But in the future you might be considered not healthy because you can’t run a marathon at the age of 200!
However, just because the definition of “healthy” is fuzzy and will probably change over time and based on the context, that does not stop us from having a useful concept of health and an intuitive understanding of the word. And we can make true statements about what contributes to health and what does not.
Exactly the same kind of “fuzzy but still useful” applies to the word “happiness”.
Ultimately, my definition of happiness is “the best possible and most all-embracing definition of happiness that one can, all things considered, come up with.” Humanity is probably not yet able to articulate this “perfect” definition yet.