Philosophers have pursued this subject for many years. Professor Mark Kingwell a philosopher at the University of Toronto writes one of my favourite, entertaining and thorough overviews of the subject of happiness. I’m not sure he offers a definitive answer but he does offer some leads.
He suggests, “Happiness happens…on the field of human community and in the performance of actions. It is not rest and peace so much as it is the disposition to act…[and ask] am I living a life that I can judge worth living.” (1)
In working with men, especially with men in groups and group therapy, an opportunity is presented to build a human community of safety and support by sharing their intimate thoughts, experiences and feelings with other men.
My introspective and interpersonal experience with happiness leads me to conclude that happiness is found in the interplay between individual mindsets, beliefs and attitudes, and the kind of interaction with others that is characterized by being present, helpful, concerned and engaged.
Happy people seem to think that life is okay, that they themselves are okay and that their purpose on this planet is not just to take care of their own needs, but also to reach out to and engage with others in a selfless fashion.
Most of us seem to want to be accepted, respected, listened to, understood and seen for who we really are. We don’t want to live in fear, shame or guilt, or to be inappropriately angry. Perhaps, somewhere in this mix lay the seeds of happiness.
(1) p. 285, IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, Mark Kingwell