"Thanks Kane. I really appreciate it. By the way, how are you?" Yas texted me.
"I'm good Yas. Happy =)," I replied.
"I always say I wish happiness is like a tattoo; permanent."
"Ohhh… It comes and goes, I've learned."
"Yung iba kasi, maraming stock. Ayaw mamigay. (But you know, it just seems others have a huge stock of it. They don't want to share.) Hahaha."
"Yung iba naman, nasa harap na nila, ayaw pang kunin. (While for some, it's right in front of them, they just don't want to take it.)"
"Aaayyyyyy!!! May pinanghuhugutang malalim ba iyan? (Now where did that come from?)" Yas asked.
"Hahaha. It's just an observation of human nature. :)"
I think, we all want to be happy. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, no person deliberately chooses to be unhappy.
The question then is: What is happiness? What makes us happy?
In his lecture "The Four Levels of Happiness", Reverend Robert Spitzer, S.J., writer, teacher, and speaker, discussed the four kinds of happiness we experience.
1) Laetus: Happiness in a thing.
I want a vanilla almond ice cream. I bought and ate vanilla almond ice cream. I am happy.
I want the Iphone4. I bought the Iphone4. I am happy.
This kind of happiness comes from things outside ourselves and involves one or more of the five senses. The pleasure they give is immediate, direct but short lived.
After awhile, you'd want another ice cream, a newer phone.
2) Felix: The happiness of comparative advantage.
I have a nicer job than Andrew.
I have more money than Michelle.
My biceps are bigger than Miguel's
This kind of happiness involves the ego. It is a result of competition, by comparing yourself to others and seeing yourself as superior to others. The most important thing in the world (me) has been affirmed.
We all want to improve ourselves, to achieve goals and finish projects. The danger is when we believe that happiness can only be found in achievement or success; that means we will live in constant competition with other people.
3) Beatitudo: The happiness that comes from seeing the good in another person and doing good for another person.
My friend Paolo is sick. I will take care of him even if it means I will not have enough sleep.
My sister needs money for school. I will give her the money I have been saving for a new phone.
Human beings are not selfish; or at least, not all are. Some of us also desire love, truth, justice, beauty.
We find happiness in giving to another, in making the world a better place. We make personal sacrifices, forgive others, give our live, energy, money and time to another person.
But at some point, we can become frustrated. We realize we can never do enough to help, there is always more to do. We cannot be everything to everyone.
4) Sublime Beatitudo: The reach for fullness and perfection of happiness.
We all face our mortality, at some point in time. This recognition of our finiteness is what pushes our desire for the sublime, something beyond. People of faith recognize this as a desire for a God.
For others, it's a recognition of something infinite that lies beyond our mortal world. Perhaps the collective human creativity and spirit which has propelled our civilization to where it is now.
Sometimes I wonder why happiness is fleeting. Why do we suffer? Perhaps it is because most of our happiness is tied to mortal things; human gadgets, human love.