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Is happiness just an experience?How do you answer this question with clarity, precision...

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jontyjunior | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 5:59 AM via web

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Is happiness just an experience?

How do you answer this question with clarity, precision and quality using an authentic experience of nearly dying from appendicitis and now believing that happiness is accepting what life throws at you.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:14 AM (Answer #2)

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I don't agree with your premise. I don't think very many people would see a near death experience due to appendicitis as happiness, but that certainly could be an event life "throws at you."

I would consider happiness to be an emotion that is experienced in reaction to situations that a person has experienced in life. A person who has had a near death encounter may feel happiness in response to life events that may not be noted by others who have not gained a perspective of appreciation for the mere fact of being alive. Happiness may be felt in response to a positive event, in connection with the end of an unpleasant occurrence, as part of feelings of gratitude for circumstances. I don't think happiness is an experience in and of itself.

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jontyjunior | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:29 AM (Answer #3)

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I certainly see your point. Perhaps what I should have said that as a result of a near death experience you become happier with whatever life "throws at you".
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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM (Answer #4)

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I think most people who have near-death experiences do appreciate life more.  It has less to do with happiness and more to do with gratefulness.  People are grateful to be alive, and therefore more willing to face life’s challenges because now they have some perspective.  This may or may not lead to happiness!

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boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 11, 2011 at 10:40 AM (Answer #5)

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It is said that those who have a near-death experience learn very quickly, unexpectedly, and powerfully that life is not guaranteed.  Learning this, and having survived the threat, the person is grateful (for the first time in their experience) for merely being alive.  They thus have an new appreciation for something that they had taken for granted all along.   They are happy just to be alive, and no longer discouraged by small bumps in the road that are a part of daily living. For them, the near-death experience has engendered a new perspective on life.  Yes, the circumstances of the experience may have been terrifying, but the relief and gratitude more than make up for the negativity. It is the emotional equivalent of making lemonade out of a lemon.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM (Answer #6)

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It sounds like what you are actually trying to say is that happiness is a choice that can be made much easier as a result of an experience (in this case, a life or death experience).
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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM (Answer #7)

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I think that happiness comes from a sense of feeling like you have a life purpose, or that you are fulfilling your destiny.  Waiting for "happiness" as an emotion, I think can make people quite unhappy...because I don't think most of us ever get everything we are waiting for to make us happy....BUT if we feel that at the end of the day we have added to the world and made it better...I think that speaks happiness to me.

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM (Answer #8)

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The chemical reaction of "happiness," which is caused by endorphins flooding the pleasure centers of the brain... is meaningless in this context, but I thought I'd mention it.

Paraphrasing, your point in post #3 is that after a near-death experience, you are content with your life, even in harder times, because you know how fragile it is. This is a valid response and one that many people have; after the epiphany that life is something you only get once, it is easier to see even chores, or work, or neck pains, or whatever as something you have because of your life itself. This is similar to a certain type of faith-based reasoning; the philosophy "What will be, will be," and thereby refusing to be angry or upset, is something you might look into. I'm not arguing in its favor -- I firmly believe that if your situation is hard, you should try as hard as possible to change it -- but it's something that has lasted for many thousands of years.

However, don't let this take away your new-found joy in small things; coffee, kittens, slippers, junk food and TV... every moment is one we will have only once. Even we who haven't hit the epiphany yet should treasure whatever it is we have.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2011 at 1:25 PM (Answer #9)

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A film you may enjoy that deals with this topic is called It's a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart. In the film, Stewart's character gets to the see how the lives of his friends and loved ones would have been poorer without his existence. The film reminds us that a flirtation with death can not only make us see more clearly the happy aspects of our own lives but can also helps us perceive the ways we can (and often do) bring happiness into the lives of others. Having had an experience somewhat similar to yours (mine involving open heart surgery to correct a seriously defective valve), I know what you mean. I don't think I've ever felt happier or more truly alive than in the days after that successful, and the experience has also helped change my general outlook on life.  Each day is precious.  I always knew that, of course, but now I deeply feel it.

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jontyjunior | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM (Answer #10)

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Robert, I totally agree with you in that I always believed that life was precious and we should make the most of what we have. However, are we truly happy until we have an experience that makes us more aware of just how short life is and by appreciating all that we have we can feel truly happy that we have been giving a 'second chance' to be happy and know that if we go throughblife without causing any real harm we can be happy at the life we have lived.
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jontyjunior | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 6:42 PM (Answer #11)

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Does any one philosophy fit this argument? ie Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Aristotle, Socrates etc
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jontyjunior | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 6:48 PM (Answer #12)

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In reply to #5: I think this sums up quite nicely what I was attempting to get at!
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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:06 AM (Answer #13)

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Happiness is a state of mind. We have many experiences, and what makes one person happy does not work the same way with others. However, I believe that happiness is a choice. Some people can be happy with life's basic necessities. Other people can have more money than they know what to do with and never be happy.

I always figure that finding pleasure in small things, being able to laugh easily and discovering satisfaction in helping others or giving of yourself can bring surprising happiness because it's not about things—I believe life is about people.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:10 AM (Answer #14)

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Happiness is a state of mind. It comes from within, not without.

This 'state of mind' can be created without reference to the 'real' world. What does it mean to be happy? Mad people are often very happy. But they can't function in reality.

So, if we want to be part of functional society, what is individual happiness? Is it contentment? Or is it ecstasy? Because they are very different things. Surely new love is the most blissful form of immediate happiness, but it is fleeting. It weathers and fades to something less passionate. It is ecstasy to start with but it calms down to something more 'practical'. Ecstasy is not dependable happiness.

Long-term happiness is honest contentment with who you are. And that is a difficult journey. It could take more than a lifetime to achieve.

Only 'the pursuit of happiness' is guaranteed to you in our constitution.

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bhawanipur | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted November 24, 2011 at 1:21 AM (Answer #15)

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"Is happiness just an experience?" is asked to discuss as a topic of phylosophy. If happiness becomes just an experience then we will become happy at something we desires and fulfilled and unhappy because I could not get the expected result. Its not called happiness.

parents not having children of their own are unhappy and even those who have are also not happy. A person who has no money/fame at per his aspiration is unhappy and even a man having lots of maoney and fame is also not happy.

Now, as mentioned by some other posters that happiness is a state of mind. For some people it remains for a temporary moment and for some for a longer period. From this point view, this happines of materialistic world is an experience.

In reality, happiness is something different. Only a man who has realised real knowledge can experience that. He is neither happy nor sad for opposite result. He is not delighted when happines come on his way nor he is sad when the result  opposite. Because he never expects anything, what may come he is happy with it as he knows every action has its reaction. Some reactions have to be yielded.

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louhattie | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2011 at 7:20 AM (Answer #16)

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It sounds like what you are actually trying to say is that happiness is a choice that can be made much easier as a result of an experience (in this case, a life or death experience).

All feelings, happiness, sadness, attraction and more, is not a choice, you cannot choose when to feel something. Although some feelings we like to happen to us more like happines. And of course all feelings is experience.

/Lou

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