What Is Happiness?
Everything I write, on all topics I write about, revolves around one core concept: happiness.
All of my blogs are about this, all of my ebooks are about this, most of my business advice is about this, and my book completely focuses on this. Obviously most of my writing is geared towards men, but happiness is still the core concept behind everything I convey.
My book goes into great detail on this, focusing on specific techniques that allow men to attain not just happiness, but long-term consistent happiness, at least as much as is possible in the real world. I will not repeat all that here.
Instead, today I’m going to discuss exactly what happiness is, and how it can be measured.
Definition of Happiness
I looked up the dictionary definition of happiness the other day, and was surprised at how accurate its definition was:
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
Well done, Webster. I agree 100%. However, since we’re dealing with a simple dictionary definition, it’s incomplete.
Happiness is the combination of two conditions. Both of these conditions must be present for you to experience happiness:
1. Experiencing pleasant, positive emotions.
2. The absence of any negative emotions.
You need both of these conditions at the same time in order to be happy.
If you experience neither 1 nor 2, you’re unhappy.
If you experience 1 but without 2, you’re spastic, hyper, confused, panicked, drunk, stressed, touchy, or crazy.
If you experience 2 but without 1, you’re just “eh, okay.” That’s not happy.
I’ll shall explain.
Condition 1: Experiencing pleasant, positive emotions. This is obvious. What’s not often obvious is that there’s a range to it. You can feel mildly happy, like when you sit down on your comfy couch after a long day’s work, or intensely happy, like when you make a pile of money all at once or when you snag that amazingly hot and nice new girlfriend or MLTR.
Condition 2: The absence of any negative emotions. This aspect is a little more complicated and often forgotten. Over the years, many people (both men and women) have tried to argue with me that you can be angry and happy at the same time, or that you can experience drama from a woman while being happy, or that you can be sad while being happy, or similar.
Nope. If you are experiencing any negative emotions at this very moment, you are not happy. It’s true that you might be happy 10 minutes from now, but you’re not happy now.
Also, if you are currently experiencing something you consider negative, then once again, you are not happy. You could argue that you’re not miserable, but you can’t argue that you’re happy. Just like happiness, unhappiness is also a range. You can be mildly unhappy or totally miserable, but in either case you’re not happy.
If a woman you’re in a relationship with is screaming at you and calling you an asshole, you’re not happy while she’s doing it. You’re also not happy while you’re getting a root canal or sitting bored in your cubicle at that corporate job you hate. You’re also not happy if you’re a horny guy and haven’t had sex in six months.
Again, you can argue about the level of unhappiness you feel (a lot vs. a little), but you cannot argue that you’re happy, because you aren’t.
Happiness also doesn’t mean that you’re “eh” or “okay.” When I ask my beta male buddies how they’re doing, the answer is always something like “eh, okay.” This is not an indication of happiness. It’s an indication of the absence of unhappiness, which is not the same thing as happiness.
Degree of Happiness
I have always considered happiness on a scale from 1 to 10, as I demonstrated here a while back with several charts. The breakdown for me has always looked something like this:
10: Full of massive, intoxicating joy
9 – 8: Very happy
6 – 5: “Eh, okay,” neither happy nor unhappy
3 – 2: Very Unhappy
10 is a rare condition that isn’t sustainable. Even people like me aren’t going to be able to maintain a 10 for more than a day or two. 10 is great, but it’s not something you can sustain in the real world.
9 – 7 means you’re happy to some degree. You feel positive and don’t have any negative emotions or events that are bothering you (at least at the moment). My life averages around an 8.5 to 9, most days. I’m a really happy guy living a really great life that I love.
The “Eh, okay” people at between 6 to 4 on the scale are not happy. They’re not unhappy, but they’re not happy. They’re just “okay,” usually meaning they’re mildly bored but not necessarily unhappy.
“Eh, okay” has become the standard today with most of the adult population over age 35. It’s the guy with the bullshit corporate job that he tolerates but doesn’t hate, married to the standard overweight wife who he loves but isn’t super attracted to and who gets on his nerves sometimes, with kids and bills that stress him out a little, but who enjoys working on his car and going hunting and camping, or watching football with a beer. He’s “okay,” but he’s not happy.
Anyone at a 4 or under is unhappy. They’ve got regular emotions, conditions, and/or events that make them angry, sad, lonely, fearful, stressed out, depressed, or any other emotion derived from the 5 stages of fear.
They can take action to improve their conditions and/or re-orient their thinking, but that takes work and effort, and many of these people aren’t interested in doing this. There are also a lot of people with certain personality types or shitty childhoods who actually like being angry or upset at least semi-regularly (coughaltrightmanospherecough) and consider happy people as ‘stupid’ or ‘selfish.’
1 is rare but does happen occasionally to certain very unhappy people, and like 10, it isn’t sustainable (if you stayed at 1 too long you’d probably kill yourself).
Of course, happiness is a variable for everyone, even very happy or very unhappy people. My life is around 8.5 or 9 almost all the time, but there are times I have a bad day. It’s rare, but does happen. If this happens, for several hours my happiness may drop down as low as 4. Since I don’t like being unhappy and consider happiness my greatest objective in life, I immediately get to work to bring my happiness back up to 8.5 where it belongs, so I’m never at a 4 for longer than a few hours. Even living a few days at the 5 or 6 level feels weird to me.
The argument against his is something like, “Well, what if your mom dies???” True, if something truly horrible and outside of my control occurred like this, I might be at a 2 or 3, or maybe even a 1, for several days, if not longer, regardless of how happy and well-structured my life is. The good news is that these events are extremely rare, happening only a few times in your entire life. I mean seriously, how many times can your mom die? Once. Thus my point.
Also, the length of the unhappiness in these events is completely up to me, since everything is my fault. If my mom died, I would be very sad for a while, then I would soon return to my usual 8.5 and be fine. It’s how I am, by design. On the flip side, I know a woman whose mom died eight years ago. It took her over a year to get over it, and to this day, at every anniversary date of her mom’s death, this woman gets depressed for a about a week or two.
That’s her choice. She’s choosing that unhappiness the same way I choose my happiness in spite of these large but very rare problems.
When I got divorced, I was very unhappy for about three months, then I got over it, and I was as happy as can be, and that happiness has sustained for almost 10 years so far. My children also bounced back to happiness quickly, within a few months. On the flip side, my former wife was very unhappy about the divorce for about five years before she finally started calming down about it. Some of this is personality and temperament, but most of this is about making a choice.
Just like a happy person can be temporarily unhappy, an unhappy person who usually lives at the 3 level can indeed have days (or even entire weeks) where something good happens that temporarily shoots their happiness to 9 or even 10. Things like NRE, getting engaged, winning the lottery, or going on a really nice vacation can take even the most miserable person’s happiness levels to the 8-10 range for a while, until they fall back down to their more “comfortable” levels of regular unhappiness or “eh, okay.”
One of the biggest reasons people get monogamous is because they’re making an irrational decision in the midst of the extreme but temporary happiness caused by NRE. Since I’m already very happy as a normal condition of my life, if I experience NRE, the shift in happiness isn’t quite as massive, thus I’m able to keep a cool head (more or less anyway) and not do anything too stupid. Compare that to the man who normally lives at a 5 and then shoots to a NRE-induced 10. He’s so unaccustomed to the new level of extreme happiness, he turns into a blubbering idiot and makes all the wrong choices, only to realize it when the NRE wears off and he gets back to his usual 5. Seriously, that’s exactly where most girlfriend-boyfriend monogamy comes from.
Now we need to discuss how often people are happy. I live the Alpha Male 2.0 life of consistent, long-term happiness (as much as is possible in the real world). An Alpha Male 1.0, as I showed on the graphs a while back, is also very happy, but he suffers unhappiness more often than I do. In other words, he’s not as happy as often as I am.
I’ve had several people challenge me on this. “Who are you to say that you’re happier more often than me? You can’t measure that anyway!”
Incorrect. You can.
We could hook up several wifi electrodes to your body and my body that track brain activity associated with happiness, unhappiness, and neutral, mild boredom (“eh, okay”). Then, we could each hire a researcher to silently follow each of us around with a clipboard 24 hours a day, and have him keep close track of how often we were happy, unhappy, or “eh, okay.”
Would these methods be absolutely 100% accurate? Of course not. Regardless, after two weeks (or so) of gathering data from these two sources, we could indeed find out which of us feels happy more often than the other. Frequency of happiness can indeed be measured. The statement “Joe is happy more often than Larry” can indeed be empirically proven or disproven, at least to a degree.
This is why I make such a big deal about long-term consistent happiness, rather than just happiness. Any dumbass can be happy for three minutes…just eat your favorite doughnut. Any dipshit can be happy mixed in with regular unhappiness…just get a monogamous girlfriend. Any dingleberry can be super happy today and miserable in five years…just get married the standard way (legally and monogamously). But being happy consistently, often, over the long haul of decades, man, that’s an entirely different level of happiness. Believe me, I know.
So there you have it. Happiness is feeling positive, pleasant emotions while feeling no negative emotions, that can be measured (at least somewhat) in terms of both intensity and frequency.
Obviously, the goal is to get your happiness into at least the 7 range, and keep your happiness there (or higher), forever (as much as is possible in the real world). It’s a doable goal, by the way. I’ve done it.