Redefining happiness

I tend to be skeptical that "the purpose of life is happiness" for several reasons, the main one being that the definition of happiness is vague, imprecise, and more often than not, one tends to mean "I just want to live a pleasant life".
While this is a reasonable aim to one's life, there is still a problem with the inaccuracy of such aim: would one be willing to live in a sort of comatose state, albeit pleasant, for their entire life? Would a permanent state of pleasure be the goal of a good life? If Huxley's soma were available in our society, should we aim to use it all our time? I think not.

I propose here a definition of happiness that can be used as a reasonable goal and which captures the complexities of a "life well lived", so when I mean happiness, I can avoid the vague term we tend to use on a day to day basis.

There are three requirements that you need to achieve this happiness:
1- You must plan something for the long term, make trade-offs, sacrifice, put effort in achieving that goal.
2- Your inner values, your morals, must be aligned with your actions.
3- Finally, you must achieve the goal you set.

If 1 and 2 materialize, but not 3, then instead of happiness, you have frustration.
If 1 and 3 materialize, but not 2, a looming hypocrisy would make it harder to savor the taste of achieved goals.
If 2 and 3 materialize, but not 1, we would be talking mostly of immediate pleasures.

We can only achieve happiness, i.e. deep and true satisfaction, if there is a long term plan, sacrifice, effort, a reasonable alignment of values and actions, and a final accomplishment of the goal.

There is a problem with this type of happiness, though. If one has evil goals and values, but they are sincere, and acts upon them, then, one can be happy indeed. This means that a pure psychopath could reach this happiness via doing terrible things, and it would have been coherent with the definition outlined here.

This is why I also think that happiness alone is not enough to lead a "life well lived", because for that one would need to add a moral aspect to it, that is, not just any goal would suffice to pursue. But that is a discussion for a different moment.

Image from Pixabay

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