Happiness is simultaneous success at working, loving, and creating, with the capacity for mature and flexible resolution of conflicts between instincts, conscience, important other people, and reality. Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi observed that happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Although happiness has countless meanings including well-being, quality of life, flourishing, and contentment, it is as you define it.
There are two traditions of thought about happiness. The first tradition sees happiness as simple hedonistic pleasure. The second tradition (from Aristotle and later philosophers) sees happiness as the quality of one’s life; the fulfillment of one’s human potential, or one’s ‘self-realization.’ Mill wrote that human beings are made happy by the ‘higher pleasures’—the ‘pleasures of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments.’
The Enlightenment was a reaction to religious wars and mass persecution in Europe. The Enlightenment inspired the use of such secular ideas as reason and the empirical sciences, not ecclesiastical sources, as the means to achieve freedom, knowledge, and happiness.
Education is one means by which we realize we are happy. It opens our eyes and ears, and leads us toward opportunity, enlightenment, and self-awareness. Education encourages rational, logical thought, and provides an appreciation of the sources of our happiness.
You will never become happy by pursuing your personal wants. Our lives have significance only when valuing the lives of others. During your brief life, you must live and work with others in mutual respect. If your character embraces rationality, integrity, compassion, and altruism, you will further the happiness and well-being of many.
Yesterday is a distant memory, and tomorrow is a vision of hope. If you are able to pursue hope and live well today, each day will become a happy memory.