The Definition Of Happiness

Authored by William G. DeFoore, Ph.D.

Here is a definition of happiness that will help you to be happy. Happiness is a big subject, but we're going to narrow it down so you really get the value you're looking for.

Everybody defines happiness in different ways. We'll find a common ground here, so that we can connect with you no matter where you're coming from.

I'll offer a one sentence definition below, but first take a look at this table, to get an overview:

definition of happiness

Short Term Happiness

Now we'll break these down, to make sure it's making sense to you:

  • Short term happiness comes in spurts, and doesn't last that long. It's still very, very good, it's just that you want it to last, and you want these short term happy experiences to occur often. Some examples:

  1. Humor -- Somebody tells you a good joke, you watch a funny movie, or something just tickles your funny bone. We all love to laugh, but this kind of happiness is short term unless you have some other things going on that contribute to your overall feeling of joy and well being.

  2. Entertainment -- No definition of happiness would be complete without the mention of entertainment. A good book, sports, TV shows, plays, and concerts can make you forget your worries for hours at a time, and sometimes longer.

  3. Surprise -- An unexpected good  thing, like a call from an old friend, a raise in your wages, a new high-paying contract or an unforeseen increase in the value of your financial assets can bring a big surge of joy, and the bigger the surprise, the longer the feeling lasts.

  4. Pleasure -- A really good meal, an enjoyable sexual experience, or a much needed relaxing vacation can bring a tremendous amount of short term happiness. You want as much of those as you can get, but sometimes they are too few and too far in between.

Long Term Happiness

  • Long term happiness comes from more constant, enduring, and/or recurring aspects of your life. You really want to build as much of these as possible, because they provide your "fall back plan"when the short term experiences of joy are stretched out too far. Examples would include:

point of focus
  1. Meaning and purpose -- You really can't underestimate the value of this. Any good definition of happiness needs to include some reference to the personal passion, enthusiasm and motivation that come from having a meaningful sense of purpose in life.

  2. Fulfillment -- Another word for this might be satisfaction. This often goes with a feeling of success and accomplishment, and while this is not the entire prerequisite to a happy life, it certainly plays an important role.

  3. Inspiration -- This is where meaning, purpose and fulfillment come together with vision and personal/spiritual values. Believing that your life is serving a higher purpose can bring tremendous feelings of peace, joy and well being.

  4. Lasting love -- Now we come to perhaps the most important aspect of all. The greatest human need is to love and be loved, and when this need is fulfilled in a lasting and meaningful way, it brings immeasurable joy and comfort.

 The Definition Of Happiness

"Happiness is using your brilliant mind to inspire action leading to immediate and enduring experiences of joy, well being and lasting love relationships."

William DeFoore

The Definition Of Happiness In Your Mind

  • Your mind is the creative laboratory for both short term and long term happiness. The whole idea of creating happiness on  purpose is that it is a decision you make in your mind, moment by moment, day by day, all of your life. Let's look at some ways this happens:
brain in space

  1. Beliefs -- This includes both conscious and subconscious thoughts that literally govern your emotions and actions long term. All of your beliefs need to serve you well. Examine your old beliefs, keep the ones that work, and replace the self limiting beliefs with self empowering ones.

  2. Mental habits -- Your thought patterns determine not only your short term joy level but your state of health and the health of your relationships. And believe it or not, these mental habits are under your control. This entire web site is devoted to helping you develop a happiness habit.

  3. Attitude -- Almost nothing has more value than a positive attitude. Whether you know it or not, you are definitely in charge of your attitude, and you can direct it where you want it to go. Your attitude is actually a result of your beliefs and mental habits, as mentioned above.

  4. Positive focus -- Your focus is simply what you pay attention to. Many people don't know they have a choice, but believe me you do, and that choice makes all the difference. The practice of Goodfinding is all about helping you develop a positive focus on the past, present and future.

The Definition Of Happiness And Your Body

  • Your body is the storehouse of your emotions, including your happiness. No definition of happiness would be complete without consideration of health and physical well being. Let's look at how your body affects your happiness:

davinci man
  1. State of health -- You know as well as I do that it's much easier to be happy when you're in good health. Everything you can do to promote the robust health of your body will contribute to your state of joy and your positive attitude.

  2. Physical activity -- An active lifestyle is just plain good for you. Your body is designed to be in motion, and it's up to you to keep it moving. When these physical activities are fun for you, the benefit is increased exponentially.

  3. Daily habits -- Your eating, exercise and sleeping habits have a huge impact on your state of health and happiness. While it may seem difficult (or impossible) at times, you can definitely create new, positive, healthy habits that will promote your joy and well being.

  4. Energy level -- It is possible for you to have lots of energy on a continual basis...your body was actually designed for that. When you apply this definition of happiness to your everyday life, and begin changing your thoughts and actions one at a time, you'll enjoy an ongoing high energy level.

And as we conclude, let's hear the definition of happiness from none other than the great movie director, Alfred Hitchcock, as he emphasizes clear horizons, creativity, and the need to be kind to each other.

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