The Early Concept of Happiness

Happiness

Every now and then ‘Happiness’ finds a new meaning, a new definition and a new way. Let us today discuss how happiness has evolved over the generations and what it means today.

Over the years, happiness has meant many other things, some of which are surprising when compared with our current sense of the word.

Meghan Keener

The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness began 2500 years back, in various countries around the world, by different individuals.

  • In India by Buddha
  • In Chine by Confucius
  • In Greece by Socrates, and Aristotle

There are huge similarities between their thinking, and some of the concepts they have discussed hold true in today’s time too.


Buddha

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

Dalai Lama

Siddhartha Gautama of Shakya, born in modern-day Nepal to a wealthy royal family, was raised in a luxurious lifestyle. His father made all the effort to shield him from the reality of life, but one day Siddhartha venture out of the castle walls and encountered the three aspects of life- the old, the sick and the dead. These experiences touched him so deeply that he renounced the luxury and went on in search of life by meditating under a Bodhi tree. It is during this time that he introduced the “Middle Path” of moderation — an idea that closely resembles Aristotle’s “Golden Mean.

Buddha and Happiness

Buddha beleieves that the path to happiness starts by first understanding the root causes of suffering. While some people believe this to be a very pessimistic approach, but Buddha does not leave us just to understand the suffering. Instead he teaches about the lesson of compassion and wisdom through Dharma.

Buddha elaborates this by giving the ‘The Four Noble Truths’ & The Eightfold Path to Happiness

The Four Noble Truth are

. Life is/means
Dukkha (mental dysfunction or suffering).

Dukkha arises
from craving.

Dukkha can be eliminated.

The way to the elimination of dukkha is the Eightfold Path.

Buddha describes that suffering is not permanent, instead it arises from ignorance and false knowledge.

The eightfold path is a systematic way of overcoming the ignorance, thus removing the suffering from Life. The Eightfold path is divided into three categories: Wisdom, Mental Cultivation and Ethical Conduct. The Mental Cultivation category which mentions about right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration are relevant to happiness.

Buddha Philosophy

Buddha’s idea of happiness is to renounce all material exposure as that is the true cause of suffering. Out actions are the result of our thoughts, so if one acts with a pure thought, happiness will follow. Buddhism believes in the way to happiness is through higher consciousness and mindful practice.


Confucius

He was one of the first person to mention, that the humans have the power to transform themselves into Nobel Man.

Isn’t it a joy to study and regularly practice? What’s more, isn’t it a joy to meet comrades from afar.

Confucius

He believes that learning is an important part of humans. This learning is not just restricted to books but rather social relationships. Learning more about ‘Humanity and incorporating them into our lives, fills individuals with a sense of joy


.

Socrates

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