Happiness cannot exist without stability. Stability, though, is never found in circumstances outside ourselves. They are always subject to change and largely out of our control. It's created, I think, by a belief that we can overcome, or at least endure, whatever comes our way. Believing in our own resilence to withstand life's challenges keeps us on stable ground and makes it possible to find happiness in our lives, even during difficult times.
This topic reminds me of something I read for my doctoral work in educational leadership. Heifetz and Linsky, in Leadership on the Line, talk about the school environment as a crucible. Effective leaders know when to heat up the crucible in order to create a reaction and incite creativity among the faculty and staff. The best leaders know how to do this and gauge accurately how hot things can get before they need to cool down. Creative instability is sorely missing in most American public high schools.
In some ways, stability is an illusion. Sometimes things/we appear to be stable, but it never lasts long. There are too many things going on in our life/world. Look at all the people that had "perfectly happy and stable" lives two years ago who are now without jobs, without money, and at their wits ends. Stability also might put us in a position where very little is created, very few new things are tried ... not a great place to be.
I think happiness is more related to how we deal with the instability of life ... and, of course, with what makes us happy. Today many people seem to recognize that Thoreau's "Simplify! Simplify!" may be the key to happiness or, as someone else has put it, happiness is not having what we want, but wanting what we have.
I think it's also worth noting that most, if not all, great art comes from people who are less than stable. One of my favorite composers, Beethoven, left us some of the greatest music we shall ever experience, and he lived a life of great turbulence and suffering. And can you imagine Emily Dickinson writing her poems if she were more "normal" or stable?
There's much to be said for (as well as against) instability ...
Absolutely! You can't have one without the other. Why do you think there are so many people in the world who say they are waiting to get married after they have a good job? Or they are waiting to have enough money before they have children? They are working on stablity first, and then seeking out the happiness they desire. In today's economy, stability is difficult to have. Without it, as in the Great Depression of 1929, many people resort to suicide. The same is true in true life as it is in literature.
I agree with most of the above answers. I think many persons seek routine and order a form of stability which is equated with happiness or at least satisfaction in the form of having a routine by which one's life is ordered.
Chaos gives excitement and the rush of adreneline...which to some folks is the equivalent of happiness, but it is random and unpredictable. Some people are not happy unless they are overstimulated by adreneline. I think that Macbeth being a noble soldier grew bored with the lack of the rush of battle and intrigue. He murdered the reigning monarch in an attempt to take the throne.
The same might be said of Marc Anthony in another Shakespearean play. The chaos created in each of these plays gives a rush of excitement and drama to the characters. Macbeth's effort is futile, but Marc Anthony is successful.
For an emotionally healthy person, stability and happiness can certainly coexist. However, many (most?) people who reach adulthood are not emotionally well-balanced and healthy. For a significant proportion of them, happiness is something to pursue, not to enjoy. Literature is filled with characters who ought to be happy with their lot in life but who create instability in an effort to reach for more happiness than they currently enjoy. This behavior is the essence of conflict.
A prime example is Macbeth. He is a noble soldier, respected by the king and rewarded with a title. Nevertheless, his social position is not enough for him to enjoy, and he overreaches himself by assassinating the king so that he can occupy the throne.
The answer to your question depends upon two elements--your definition of "stability" and "happiness" and which author you are studying. For example, Shakespeare promotes the idea that happiness cannot exist amidst instability or chaos (i.e., Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello).
In real life, many people settle for stability over happiness. Brave New World promotes this theory. For example, someone who has lived a transient, difficult life might settle down with someone else simply to have stability. As the years go by, the person who settled for security might not be happy, might not even like the person with whom he/she lives, but might have found a type of contentment from the stability.
Personally, I believe that they can tolerate each other, but our culture often tempts humans to choose one over the other.
I have to agree that stability and happiness tolerate each other. Without the other, you can't have one. If you look at King Lear, he was the longest reigning monarch in a Shakespeare play. Until there was no more stability in his family, there was no more happiness. But, while he had one, he had the other.
A happy life and a happy society needs a mixture of stability and change. Stability gives mental security and comfort. I makes it easier for people to understand what to expect from each other. Without some minimum degree of stability this life will be a chaos, and it will not be possible for large societies to exist.
Change is essential for improvement. Unless there is change, there can be no improvement. But the change process starts with some disruption of the existing stability, and too much of this instability can be harmful. Change produces stress in people, and people have limited capacity to bear stress. Also, though change is good, random change is bad. Random change causes disruption without improvement. It may actually cause degradation of society rather than improvement. Again, people have limited ability to introduce constructive change.
The benefit as well as limitation of change in societies and organization is well recognized by experts, and for this reason a complete field of Change Management has developed to help the societies and companies to change faster and more effectively.