Universal Ethics > Research > Happiness

Happiness

The shortest motto I can think of that expresses the goal of moral living is this one:
Spread Happiness!

That seems pretty simple and easy, but it's not quite as simple as it seems. A person will intuitively know whether he (or she) feels happy or not, but sometimes the person may feel unhappy or depressed without knowing why. He may be even less sure about whether others are happy, or what would make them happy. That's partly because he may lack knowledge of their situation, and also because there may be variations among them of what they want.

Each person also has a limited amount of time available each week and in their lifespan, and some opportunities may bring more happiness than others. So, it would be useful not just to identify opportunities, but to rate which of them would bring the most happiness. But how can one quantify happiness? It is not something that is easy to measure, like water in a beaker.

Moreover, most people live with others nearby, and that can present both an opportunity and a problem. The opportunity is synergy, in which people cooperating together can achieve more than either could alone. The problem is if they are not seeking mutual happiness: if there is malevolent intent that is a problem for "spreading happiness." So we need a strategy to deal with that too.

You can see already that there are lots of questions to be answered, so let's get about answering them! Here are some topics that address some fundamental questions:

  1. Components of Happiness
  2. Motives not compatible with shared happiness
  3. Measuring Happiness

As you would see from reading those, there is no precise method available to measure happiness across unlimited people or animals, but we can nevertheless devise an approximate indicator of "cooperation compatible" happiness for a specific group, and there are strategies we can apply to spread happiness notwithstanding the uncertaintly. One way of applying planning and policy methodology to enhance happiness is the Pathways to Happiness method.

Also, there is much more research occuring in the modern world about happiness than there had been in the past. Here are some hyperlinks to web sites that offer information about happiness:


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