I have read many books offering ways to happiness. These can be categorized in three main ways.
appiness By Description: The first of the ways to happiness
The first way is what I call the Mystic or Poetic group. These are personal accounts of people who have reached a state of blissful happiness. They then try to explain what they have experienced… and how they have reached that stage.
This leads to a poetic or mystical description that seems to its readers to be impossible or unrealistic to reach.
The problem is that the gap between the reader and the author is so great that they cannot relate to one another’s experience.
The Author tries to describe how he or she reached this state. Their way to happiness. However what worked for the Author, is not what will necessarily work for the Reader.
Happiness By Prescription:
The second of the ways to happiness
The second of the ways to happiness is what I call the theory or formula route.
In this way someone or some group has a theory or formula that they believe leads to happiness for each of us.
Every religion or philosophy is based on a theory or formula, of the best or only way to happiness. It may be happiness in another life or world… but none the less it is happiness.
All of these believe that there are certain rules or behaviors that must be observed and kept before you can be happy.
The major flaw with this, is that the theory or formula can be believed so deeply, that believers try to thrust their own beliefs onto others. The most destructive acts in our history have come about because of this theory or formula approach. Nazi Germany’s attempt to impose an Aryan race was their formula for happiness.
Many tribes, such as Native Americans and Aboriginals, have found their way of life taken away from them. All in the name of technological progress or civilization. Which is the invader’s name for their formula to happiness.
Happiness by Observation:
The third of the ways to happiness
The third of the ways to happiness is to study happy people and look for what is different from unhappy people. Then they say this is what makes people happy.
This tends to be a lot by academics and other observers or researchers.
The problem with this is that the personality traits and behaviors displayed by happy people, may be the result of happiness… not what has caused it. The fact of being happy may lead to that personality trait or behavior.
We can also see this approach used in business. When a business, or an individual, is successful, they are analyzed and observed for clues to their success. Then hundreds of writers spew out articles, reports and books advocating some new fad.
However what works for one business, worked because it fitted in with;
- their strategy,
- their employees,
- their marketplace
and all the other elements.
Along come thousands of other businesses in entirely different situations copying someone else’s tactics and then getting frustrated when they do not get the same results.
There are no ways to happiness… And yet every route can be a path to happiness. Happiness is a choice in every instant.
If you follow any of anyone else’s ways to happiness, you will always be settling for less happiness than you could experience.
Happiness is a unique experience that must be reached in a unique way. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the experience of others. However when a choice has to be made between your path, your choice and that of another, always choose your way.