By Dr. Joseph J. Kozma
I am no expert on happiness. I just have never been unhappy. The 56 signers of TH
E UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA thought that happiness was a desirable and achievable emotion that should transcend the life of a nation and was worth to pursue.
I have often wondered how many constitutions or quasi constitutions around the world list happiness as an unalienable right.
What is happiness?
Analysts, mainly psychologists, address that question frequently among themselves and with their clients. They want to embrace it, make it their own, share it with others and try to achieve a steady state of it.
Peanuts analyzes it this way: “I don’t want to be happy, it makes me depressed.” This nonsensical statement shows that happiness is not easy to define. It is an emotion that generates itself. Martin Seligman, a noted psychologist lists a number of outside entities or occurrences that may contribute to happiness. Money, marriage, religion, education, social contacts, health, climate and others have some statistically demonstrable influence in some people. In other words, these are uncertain influences.
If these can not be expected to produce happiness on a reliable basis, what can? Let’s look at the profile of a happy person.
He/she has a goal and is working toward it creatively. A happy person is not lazy. The goal may be life-long or temporary. In the latter case new goals are set .The great Hungarian poet Endre Ady wrote: “Happy are those who start over and over.”
A happy person is satisfied or, alternatively, bases the expectations on belief. Happiness has at least two components, outside influences and internal responses. Both are essential and “team up” to produce a happy state. Of course, during a life time unhappiness can pop up. In a happy person the balance is positive, it overwhelms everything else.
Happiness is an emotion that you create internally, you nurture and cultivate it. It depends on your genes, on your language, your habits, on the songs you sing, on your position in society, on what you believe, in how you follow the law, your creativity, and your ambitions, in what the psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi calls the “FLOW.” Of course a little luck and timing helps too. All that and some others not mentioned create your character. That is how people see you and that is how you see yourself.
In the life of a nation it is the job of the elected representatives to keep a finger on the pulse of the electorate to make sure that this (happiness) unalienable right is not stepped upon.
So, when we celebrate on Fourth of July, we don’t just celebrate the creation of a document but what it contains namely, among other things, the principle of happiness that should be evident in every phase of our lives.