General Question

marinelife's avatar

What are the components of happiness?

Asked by marinelife (57384 points ) March 2nd, 2009

If it is true (and I believe it is) that money cannot buy happiness, what are the elements of happiness? And do you believe a person can put together a happy life?

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32 Answers

LouisianaGirl's avatar

For people that say money cant buy you happiness I dont know what store they go to.

dynamicduo's avatar

Money may not be able to buy happiness directly, but money sure does contribute to and facilitate my levels of happiness. For me, at this current time of life, happiness is having time to myself and space to explore and work on things I want to work on. Having a roof over my head allows this, and I must pay for a roof over my head.

onesecondregrets's avatar

My logic is that by having money you open up the possibilities to do and have more things that can make you happy. But just money cannot make you happy, most people realize this. You need people to do and have those things that money buys with. Without relationships and love, I think happiness has a hard time surviving. Also, I think a big part to happiness is self. What goes on in your own head has a lot to do with it. Our outside circumstances matter and make a difference, don’t get me wrong but if you aren’t self-aware and happy with yourself and your life well then happiness ain’t stickin’ around either.

It’s possible for a person to put together a happy life yes, it’s just incredibly difficult I think to get a good level on all mediums. And hot damn do I envy the people who are stable enough and have the ability to accomplish this.

Dog's avatar

I think it is deeds. Deeds transcend death.

Things we do to others brings us happiness.
Things people do for us brings us happiness.
Examples: Helping my kids, caring for my pets etc.

Oh- and there is always wine and chocolate too…

wundayatta's avatar

Steel, gym mats, long florescent light bulbs, and asphalt. Mix them together, and voila! Perfect happiness!

LouisianaGirl's avatar

well sometimes money cant buy happiness to some people but to me it can!!!

onesecondregrets's avatar

Haha Dog. You couldn’t be more right with that one Doing good deeds and having them done for you, just because or because you/someone truly cares…that brings such a form of happiness. .

z28proximo's avatar

Put together a happy life? No chance, it’s not possible. And one won’t land in your lap either. The reason is because happiness isn’t truly what happens to you, it’s finding happiness in what you are given. You don’t strive to find things that make you happy, as much as strive to be happy with what you have.

My favorite high school teacher had a poster that stated this and more in the simplest of terms. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

LouisianaGirl's avatar

for a poor person on the side of the street I`l sure most likely money would buy happiness dont you think?

z28proximo's avatar

It kinda comes back to the question of if you would want a high-pay job that sucks, or a low-pay job that gets you paycheck to paycheck, but you love it! Then you have to make a sharp decision between money and happiness. 40 or more hours of your life each week will be spent at that place, no?

Dog's avatar


I know what you are saying about money- but money is just paper that symbolizes human comfort.

A ham sandwich would bring comfort to a hungry person. But they still would be lonely.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think loving connections with people is a big component of happiness.

I wouldn’t have been able to even know what love is if I hadn’t had people outside of my family of origin to love and care for me and to give me the opportunity to learn how to love and care for others in return.

galileogirl's avatar

@LouisianaGirl of course you are kidding, Think about people like the Onassis heiress who must question every person who comes close to her. Her mother was married to several men all of whom used her and left her. Evidently, the pain she felt about never being able to trust caused her death at 36.

Money doesn’t buy happiness but some frees you up to achieve your goals. Without goals and purpose in life, you can’t achieve happiness.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

have you noticed that on tv the rich people act all happy in front of people but when there alone theyre all like down in the dumps talking about how they miss how life used to be but then some enjoy it.

Judi's avatar

For me, it is found in Philipians 4:13–13
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
I respect that this doesn’t doit for everyone, but it sure does for me.

mea05key's avatar

Money brings pleasure not happiness. If one lives in poverty, its difficult for him to find happiness also. Therefore, find a balance in life and more importantly appreciate what you have and not counting for more.

jonsblond's avatar

@mea05key You make a great point. Money can bring pleasure, but not true happiness. I have known people that have great wealth, but they still strive for more. The bills get larger, the house is bigger, the dreams get bigger, it never ends. It is all about finding happiness in yourself, not material things.

nikipedia's avatar

I am not convinced that money can’t buy happiness. Here’s an article that sums up two current economic theories about relative v. absolute wealth and happiness. For a long time, it was believed that wealth alone didn’t bring happiness, but being wealthier than those around you did. On the other hand, more recent data suggests a good correlation between a country’s purchasing power and average lifetime happiness. So I think the money/happiness relationship is probably more complicated than either money=happiness or money has no relationship to happiness.

That said, what I’ve read about happiness suggests that there are (more or less) three components:
1. an innate happiness set point
2. your immediate circumstances
3. your general circumstances

Daniel Gilbert does a nice job discussing (1) in Stumbling on Happiness. He shows that if you change people’s lives in a way that you would expect to dramatically alter their happiness—either positively, like lottery winners, or negatively, like quadriplegics—they tend to return to their former baseline happiness level within about 18 months.

And I think the other two sort of speak for themselves. If something great happens, you feel happier; if your life in general is pretty great, you feel happier. I think maybe those things might be more what you were getting at, though? And I think those change from person to person. Some people like a strong social network while others are happier alone; some people enjoy being immersed in work while others feel overwhelmed; etc.

This is a great question. Please do clarify if I sort of missed what you were aiming at!

marinelife's avatar

@nikipedia Yes, you came very close to what I was aiming at. I think the data from Gilbert is fascinating.

Now, what about changing one’s happiness set point or baseline? I think the answers in the thread that talk about finding happiness in one’s current circumstances and z28proximo’s point about one’s response to events or circumstances may be the key.

I was very much struck the first time I learned of the work of Viktor Frankl, who once said, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”

That quote has changed my approach to things in life.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I would say that a component of happiness is people, the companionship of others… however there will be some rube somewhere who is perfectly happy being alone with nature. I don’t think there is any one formula for happiness as we are all wonderfully diverse in our hearts and minds. But before I start rambling.. let me think of components of happiness objectively.
My theories:
1. Companionship (whether with humans or nature)
2. Financial Security (Money can’t buy happiness. I have seen happy poor people)

Hmm.. all this is just making me think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Perhaps there’s something to it.

Trustinglife's avatar

I recommend Happy for No Reason, by Marci Shimoff. It was a New York Times bestseller, and a damn good book with lots of good suggestions. The title says it all. I sometimes ask myself, if I’m feeling shitty due to shitty circumstances, “Can I be happy anyway?”

Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.

Blondesjon's avatar

There is only one person in this world that can make you happy and that is you.

You choose what makes you happy. This seems to be an oversimplification but most great and ignored truths are. You and only you make a conscious decision about how you let reality affect you.

After you accept this everything else is really just semantics.

wundayatta's avatar

I no longer believe in the pursuit of happiness. Instead, I find the pursuit of interest to serve fairly well. If I’m interested, I don’t think about happiness, or lack thereof, and I am fine. If I think about happiness—well, that’s a pretty sure way of getting me depressed.

You know what’s really weird? I know this, and yet I still can’t stay away from questions like this one, which always mess me up. Maybe only a little, these days, which is good compared to when they really could throw me down a dark well. Maybe I keep hoping that one time I won’t compare myself to happy people, and feel bad about myself. Now, I’m going away before I really work myself into a place I really don’t want to be.

Trustinglife's avatar

Thanks for your honesty, Daloon. I wish you many things in which to be interested!!

wundayatta's avatar

@Trustinglife: In that, I am lucky. Or foolish. There is almost nothing I am not interested in. Hell, I used to think that fishing and golf were two of those things, but now I’ve had converstations with aficianados of both, and found myself engaged.

marinelife's avatar

@daloon Sorry. Of course, that was not my intention.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t think about happiness as much as I think about peace. Maybe someone else would call that contentment. For me, achieving peace with my past, my self, my current job(-lessness) situation, etc. is enough. (Therapy and anti-anxiety medication helped immensely in the pursuit of peace.) That is not to say that I am never scared, worried or sad. It’s just that those feelings are not my constant companions anymore. I guess my ‘baseline happiness level’ has improved. : )

wundayatta's avatar

@Marina: Please, don’t apologize. It’s my problem, not yours. You have every right to ask whatever question you want. I know it wasn’t your intention. How could you have known what happens to me? I will take care of myself. I have to learn to deal with this kind of stuff without it rocking me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Get a dog, Nothing makes me happier than coming home after work and seeing the happy face down near the floor that says, “Hooray, Dad’s home!”

A dog is the only creature that loves you more than it loves itself.

kevinhardy's avatar

actions towards the self that make self happy

help those that help you and actually mean it

being away from negative people

having various pets

being around supportive people

real, real helpful freinds

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

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