Finding True Happiness

by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ

One of the hottest topics in contemporary culture is happiness—so much so that the United Nations declared an International Happiness Day in response to the immense popularity of Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”. The explanation for this current fixation seems to lie in the contrary phenomenon—unhappiness. Despite the fact that we have tremendous access to every imaginable form of entertainment, we experience a pervading sense of insecurity, emptiness, and malaise amid sporadic peak experiences.

The problem seems to lie less in the external environment than in the internal one. We seem, in the words of Viktor Frankl, to be suffering from an absence of meaning that pervades both individuals and societies, giving rise to a collective emptiness, loneliness, and alienation.

Finding True Happiness attempts to provide a way out of this personal and cultural vacuum by helping people to identify and then reach for happiness. As Aristotle noted 2,400 years ago, happiness is the one thing we can choose for its own sake—everything else is chosen for the sake of happiness.

Philosophical thoughts on Happiness

“Happiness is the one thing we can choose for its own sake-everything else is chosen for the sake of happiness.”

Aristotle

“In the case of those who go from one mortal sin to another, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures. He fills their imagination with sensual pleasure and gratifications, the more readily to keep them in their vices and increase the number of their sins.”

St. Ignatius Loyola

“The friendship which draws human beings together in a tender bond is sweet to us because out of many minds it forges a unity.”

St. Augustine

“The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

Viktor Frankl

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