More threads by Into The Light


What a wonderful topic, and I'll be following it with interest.

My first thought is that happiness has to be a state of mind, independent of physical influences.

People with very little material wealth can be happy, as can be very wealthy people, but neither of these physical states in themselves can make a person happy.

I think it has something to do with peace of mind, and contentment with appreciation for what we have.

Let's see what others have to say!


For me, it's a sense of inner satisfaction with myself and the world around me. It's not bliss, and it's not misery. It's something in-between the two. :)

Danny Boy

Happiness as with most emotions is very hard to define. I believe that the feeling of happiness is different for everyone yet we all share the same understanding of it.

To me happiness is: Just feeling great all over. In good health, mind and spirit.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I think Dr. Carl Rogers' concept of The Fully Functioning Person is a pretty good answer, since it embodies being at peace with yourself and the world around you:

The fully-functioning person
Rogers, like Maslow, is just as interested in describing the healthy person. His term is "fully-functioning," and involves the following qualities:

1. Openness to experience. This is the opposite of defensiveness. It is the accurate perception of one's experiences in the world, including one's feelings. It also means being able to accept reality, again including one's feelings. Feelings are such an important part of openness because they convey organismic valuing. If you cannot be open to your feelings, you cannot be open to acualization. The hard part, of course, is distinguishing real feelings from the anxieties brought on by conditions of worth.

2. Existential living. This is living in the here-and-now. Rogers, as a part of getting in touch with reality, insists that we not live in the past or the future -- the one is gone, and the other isn't anything at all, yet! The present is the only reality we have. Mind you, that doesn't mean we shouldn't remember and learn from our past. Neither does it mean we shouldn't plan or even day-dream about the future. Just recognize these things for what they are: memories and dreams, which we are experiencing here in the present.

3. Organismic trusting. We should allow ourselves to be guided by the organismic valuing process. We should trust ourselves, do what feels right, what comes natural. This, as I'm sure you realize, has become a major sticking point in Rogers' theory. People say, sure, do what comes natural -- if you are a sadist, hurt people; if you are a masochist, hurt yourself; if the drugs or alcohol make you happy, go for it; if you are depressed, kill yourself.... This certainly doesn't sound like great advice. In fact, many of the excesses of the sixties and seventies were blamed on this attitude. But keep in mind that Rogers meant trust your real self, and you can only know what your real self has to say if you are open to experience and living existentially! In other words, organismic trusting assumes you are in contact with the acutalizing tendency.

4. Experiential freedom. Rogers felt that it was irrelevant whether or not people really had free will. We feel very much as if we do. This is not to say, of course, that we are free to do anything at all: We are surrounded by a deterministic universe, so that, flap my arms as much as I like, I will not fly like Superman. It means that we feel free when choices are available to us. Rogers says that the fully-functioning person acknowledges that feeling of freedom, and takes responsibility for his choices.

5. Creativity. If you feel free and responsible, you will act accordingly, and participate in the world. A fully-functioning person, in touch with acualization, will feel obliged by their nature to contribute to the actualization of others, even life itself. This can be through creativity in the arts or sciences, through social concern and parental love, or simply by doing one's best at one's job. Creativity as Rogers uses it is very close to Erikson's generativity.

...more on Carl Rogers and Client Centered Therapy here
To me, happiness is an emotion. Like fear, like anger, like sadness. I think it isn't possible to be happy all the time. I think it IS possible to have contentment underneath the emotions and struggles of life though. Maybe a sense of peace? Maybe it is a matter of semantics. Happiness = Peace, contentment.

But I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to BE HAPPY or to FIND HAPPINESS. "If I could just be happy then my life would be perfect." "If I could find happiness, then everything would fall into place." Sometimes I have thought a certain thing would make me happy or if a certain thing happens, but it just doesn't seem to work that way.

Some people say happiness/contentment/peace is something we choose. I'm not sure. I think in some ways it's true. We have so much more power inside our minds than I ever realized.

I really like the "living in the here and now" statement. Now is all we have.

Maybe everyone has to define and figure out their own happiness. :confused: I don't know if any of this makes sense.
my initial thought was that happiness is to not be depressed. i think happiness is leading a life where overall you're fairly content. when you step back for a moment and look at the things that are in your life you think, yes, everything's pretty ok. happiness is accepting yourself, faults and good points, the whole package. those are my thoughts.
Happiness for me at the moment would be to have a little more money, no debts, be free of all illness, have a better living accommodation, having a partner/soul mate to share my life with, Im happy with some things in my life but not all, someone said happiness comes from within, they are probably right, but at the moment I need some stuff from outside to make me happy, at least I think I do. My budgies are always happy, perhaps I should take a leaf out of their book, they chirp all day, play, if something happens they might go quiet or panic a bit and then its forgotton and they are chirping again, i hope im making sense Im tired and its bedtime here:D


I am sure happiness means a lot of different things to different people. For me its a sense of well being, emotionally, spiritually, and physically for yourself and for others. Happiness for me can be sitting on a nice beach, listening to the waves and hearing the seagulls. Happiness is enjoying. Happiness is seeing people I love happy, and enjoying life. When they feel good, so do I. When they hurt, so do I.

Happiness is enjoying a craft show, a sunny day, laughter from a child, babies, puppies, etc....

Good question!
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