Happiness Comes From Within

I was planning to blog my own content on happiness until I came across this post: Happiness Comes From Within

I will make some comments on the blogger’s various interpretations and evaluations.

The philosopher seems to have a Cartesian (dualistic) view of mind and world and this leads to some unnecessarily complicated and incorrect explanations.

1. Happiness is not a product of our minds, rather it is a product of our experience of the world. Our experience of the world is the world. To clarify, what we perceive as the world is our world from a first-person point of view. Throwing ‘mind’ into the equation is redundant.

We can simply choose to be happy or unhappy at any moment, but cultivating character will make it easier, i.e. habitual.

2. ‘events filtered through our own values and desires’ make up experience, but experience also includes thoughts, reflections, expectations, emotions and moods. Happiness cannot come only from within if events are part of the experience that leads to happiness.

3. While the expression ‘happiness comes from within’ is not technically correct, it is true that people can choose to be happy.

It is not action (or in this case, reaction) that leads to happiness rather it is experience, with the essential element of thinking you are happy. The author is contradicting himself in assuming that a change in environmental conditions through action will be responsible for happiness.

4. The author understands ‘choice’ in this instance as a decision to take some action which may or may not ’cause’ happiness. We can take any action and afterward be happy or unhappy, it does not depend on the consequence of the action necessarily, it depends on our choice to see the world in a particular way.

5. This is too hypothetical for me to bother to comment.

6. I agree that a natural (appetite from our genes) reaction to unhappiness can be altered with practice (nurture), but I disagree that ‘situations’ cause unhappiness. Though, what exactly is unhappiness but another emotion like anger, sadness or melancholy?

7. I agree that we can adjust our ‘personality’ towards one that is conducive to a happy life, but I don’t know how hard it would be for each individual; it depends on nature and nurture (rather, nature through nurture – but this is a technical point).

A person starving to death can be happy or unhappy. This may seem impossible, but it is true. Granted though, the odds are that a typical individual will not be happy. Look for example at martyrs who have died for religious causes, some have been fanatically delighted at the prospect of death.

8. Happiness does not come from anything but our choice to experience the world with happiness.


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