A ​Hierarchy of Happiness

‘Was chatting with a friend about happiness some time ago. So I thought to reflect on why we get happy, and why our happiness might persist. This piece tries to addresses the first question directly.  

I identify four kinds of happiness, speak of a happiness personality test, and end with a hierarchy of happiness (Maslow style). I’ve used happiness here as the pleasant emotional sensation or feeling that comes with, and because of gratification or the anticipation of it.  

The happiness for enjoyment:- Because of activity and participation; as getting a fix. E.g travelling, dancing, knitting, drugs, sex, drink, sports, games, marriage, etc.  

Could she still be happy without enjoyments?  

The happiness for possession:- Because I received, have, or own some one or some thing. E.g, cars, connection(s), gifts, girlfriends, friends, boyfriends, experiences checked off the checklist, celebrity status, spouse, friend, degrees, trophies, houses, etc.  

Could she still be happy without possessions and enjoyments?  

The happiness for events:- Because something that pleased you happened. E.g. birthdays, weddings, news of passing exams, visitors, and general good news, D. Trump wins? etc.  

Could she still be happy without pleasant outcomes, possessions and enjoyments?  

The happiness for achievement:- Because I finished or was rewarded. E.g. degrees, awards, promotion, meeting goals, hitting targets, putting your kids through school, marriage, wedding, etc.  

Could she still be happy without achievements, pleasant news, possessions, and enjoyments?  

Looking at our happinesses, which of these four has supplied most of them at various periods in our lives. 

According to your lifestyle, if you were to rank these in order of power, permanence, or personal significance, how would you arrange them — top to bottom. That tells us where we are, in a way. Or, perhaps, where we might want to ‘improve.’ Like a happiness personality test.  

Why did we order them the way we did? Nature, or nurture? I’d say that nurture started it all, with ‘life happening’ as an accomplice, and volition plastering it on nature. 

Finally, considering the foregoing, and following the pattern of Maslow’s hierarchy or needs, here is my hierarchy of happiness. (First choice: PosEvAchEn; second choice: PoAchEvEn.) The first choice, in order of need:  

Possessions:- Happy for what you have, that you have, or that you are. 

Events:- Happy that some thing happened.  

Achievements:- Happy that you made something happen.  

Enjoyments:- Happy that you participated in something that tickled you.  

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The Happiness of Commitment

One of the purest, or truest, expressions of love is commitment. What’s romantic in the modern sense about commitment? Sounds dry compared to passion, and laughter, and fun, and ….
It says in a way that love may not be sweet all the time, but still pleasing, regardless. It agrees that feelings matter, but are not everything. Inside commitment, we find care, respect, knowledge, and responsibility. Foundation for a lifetime of bliss; happiness, if you will.

‘Spanked my children sometimes, yet they run to me every time. Sometimes I feel that they see much more than I could, or would, having grown up and all. I want to be as a kid again. Their eyes are one with their hearts. And the light of love comes out of them so bright that I wonder; I could almost cry for joy for the sight of such beauty. Love is beautiful. I am happy for it.

They see me or their mother changing their diapers in the fellowship of the perfume of ‘pu.’ They see love. We instruct, correct, train, shout, ground, support, hail, carry … And they see love. We go out and come home: it’s all love. I am happy for it.

It was exciting when they met; they could barely keep away from each other for any length of time. They tied the knot, children followed, …. He owned her; she owned him; both of them slaves to their commitment. Where is the love? It is here, in who we are now. I am happy for it.

If we let go of some joys, it was to great joy because it came out of love. We have a new happiness despite the daily grind. It has come with its own excitement and reward. You will see it clearly if you want to be one. It will be ‘easy’ because you are one; there shall be no regrets. Perfect love, the great book says, sets all fears aside. … For you did not receive a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of wise discretion. [1 John 4:18, 2 Tim 1:7]

The boring and the bored might just be the same person

Many seemingly boring things and ambiance are not boring by themselves: the sheer delight a kid might have playing with an eraser might point at this. So if you find someone, or some activity, or some scene etc, boring, it could be more from you than anything else.

Lazy-bored, scared-bored, clueless-bored, nothing-to-do bored, alone-bored, uninterested-and-would-not-try bored, …. The boring and the bored might just be the same person.

Consider one of the most boring places to be: prison, in solitary confinement. (Norway did well for Breivik by providing books and a gym so that he is as under house arrest in prison.) Could one actually spend a whole week there alone without idling, feeling bored. Yes? No? Unreasonable? How about a day then.

Pause.

A lot of us were taught that our emotions needed to be massaged from the outside. And that if that wasn’t the case, that the external stimulus was boring. Yet if our minds read some things differently (wisely, correctly, perhaps) we could be happier and less bored in the same situation. And such that some of the things that we had craved to relieve loneliness and boredom would seem less necessary.

So when boredom comes, is it us or is it not. Either way, we don’t need to stay there, and we don’t need any extreme sports either. Shouldn’t it be that there’s a lot more to life and happiness than externally driven thrills. But then, living without some excitement from outside? That seems unnatural.

3 Kinds of Reminiscence

Reminiscence with gratitude
Reminiscence with regret
Reminiscence with longing

Notice which one you might be doing.

Reminiscence with gratitude is great, health to your soul.

Reminiscence with regret is bitterly painful, and it might hurt your health.

Reminiscence with longing could leave you suspended without foundations, especially if it’s a longing that can’t be met; that’s not good. And if you choose to walk on the ground seeking reexperience, you chose to hold on.

Notice which one you might be doing.