It is something we all want.
But what exactly is happiness? Could you describe it in one sentence?
If you’re unsure about the exact definition of happiness, you’re not alone. Many philosophers have very different ideas about what happiness is and how it can be attained.
Here are a few brief samples....
“The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.” EPICTETUS
This introductory philosophy/psychology/spirituality course will focus on the practical, life-enhancing benefits of studying the wisdom traditions of several different cultures. No previous philosophical knowledge is required. The desire for enlightenment is essential.
Since it would be impossible in seven weeks to survey the entire history of philosophy/psychology/spirituality in its approach to the question of happiness, our more modest itinerary will be influenced and determined by the personal thoughts, ideas, and interests of you and all course participants as we move along in our explorations of the idea of happiness. We will create the course together even as we engage it.
The following schedule is my idea of a path we might follow through the terrain of philosophy and psychology as we track the idea of happiness. If we stick to this trail, fine. If not, that is fine too.
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” CARL JUNG
- What is happiness? Is this a question that can be answered once and for all, definitively? Does happiness necessitate unhappiness? What is the importance of this idea? Is happiness an emotional state or an activity? Are there degrees of happiness? The question of happiness as a universal human aspiration. Does everyone want to be happy? Can you be happy alone or does happiness require others? Happiness and the desire to live the best possible life. The importance of moral values underlying the concept of happiness. The scope and purpose of the course. The importance of the weekly reflection assignments.
- REFLECTION ASSIGNMENT: The happiest time of my life was....
Socrates & Plato
- Love in Plato's Symposium
- Idealism and the Cave in Plato
- REFLECTION ASSIGNMENT: Life would be ideal if....
- “Happiness is activity. If happiness is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence.” ARISTOTLE
- Text: Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (Eudaimonia - flourishing)
- REFLECTION ASSIGNMENT: Life is most real for me when....
- " We may choose to define it by calling that man happy who knows good and bad only in the form of good or bad minds: who worships honor, and is satisfied with his own virtue, who is neither puffed up by good fortune nor cast down by evil fortune, who knows no other good than that which he is able to bestow upon himself, whose real pleasure lies in despising pleasures." SENECA
- "Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment." Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu, Chiang Tzu, and Confucius
- the concept of tao
- wei wu wei
- "The wise, of even mind, renounce the fruit of action. Freed from the fetters of birth, they attain the state that is beyond all evil." (Bhagavad Gita II. 51.) http://yogananda.com.au/upa/Upanishads_by_Shankara01.html
- "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.... We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.... Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Buddha
- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus
- To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” BUDDHA
- Zen and the Art of Happiness (2006/2015) Chris Prentis
- Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work: Seven Spiritual Practices for a Scientific Age (2019) Rupert Sheldrake
- Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being (2018) Martin Seligman (See also: POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY CENTER)