Thinking about the meaning of happiness is part of human nature: we all want to be happy. A dictionary (Webster) defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment: joy” and also “a pleasurable or satisfying experience”. Mixing these two ordinary meanings of the word happiness is one of the reason why happiness is not a reality for many people: happiness is both a way of living, and its outcome. Happiness is not to be confused with pleasure: pleasure is short-lived and subject to diminishing returns (we need more just to keep our pleasure level high); happiness is a choice, an attitude, a way of living.

Certainly, some external events can facilitate our decision to live happily, and some other can make it more complicated. Living happily, or its counterpart of feeling down, may be strongly present in the genetic code of some people: still, most of us are born somewhere in between the two extremes, and the choices we make are what changes our “natural” (genetic) happiness range into our nurtured (cultivated with free will) happiness range. Scientific research and spiritual traditions can facilitate our wisdom when it comes to happiness, and exercising our happiness is also beneficial.

This is an excerpt from our book: A course in happiness and well-being

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