Are happiness days a good idea?

I think setting aside a day to contemplate happiness is worthwhile, but with a caveat.

The pursuit of happiness is important. But… pursuing happiness doesn’t lead to happiness. What happens is people mistake pleasure for happiness, pursue pleasure and then get themselves into trouble.  Additionally, the pursuit of happiness as a goal, when you don’t end up feeling happy, can cause a lot of feelings of inadequacy.

You don’t experience happiness by seeking it. Happiness is something you experience in in hindsight: when you think about things. Mostly, we experience it when we feel like we are getting the business of living right. Helping others is one of the best ways to become happy. When you extend yourself to others in compassion, actively by doing things to help them, you are likely to experience happiness as a result. It feels really good and you feel good about yourself.

The Humanist approach to happiness is to focus on being a good person & doing good in the world. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life, that without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. By doing so, we become happy.

There is a formula to this. To be happy we need to be free. To be free, we need to have control. Freedom (and lack of stress) is a result of the amount of control you exercise over your life. In order to exercise control, you have to be responsible enough to make good decisions that benefit yourself and others. Your freedom cannot come at the expense of others.

For this reason, we Humanists focus A LOT on how to make good decisions. After all, you have to live with the consequences of your actions. The more you can make good decisions about how to act, the more control you have over your life and the more freedom and happiness you will experience. The effect is cumulative. Every good decision you make makes your life a little easier, a little less stressful and a little bit better. Magnify that effect over the myriad of decisions you make daily. Regarding your food choices or entertainment choices, and who you hang out with and whether you drive while drunk or not. And those little decisions add up to either increased levels of satisfaction in life or decreased levels of satisfaction.

This is why a commitment to self education is so important. You can’t make good decisions if your information is bad.

To recap. If you want to be happy, commit to living life fully (with all of its ups and downs). Love other people. And leave the world a better place. You best accomplish that by actively practicing compassion for yourself and others and through making good informed decisions.

To learn more - check out my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness

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