What is Happiness?

As you know, my book is divided into six galleries: each gallery presenting ideas and artworks representing a different segment of the road through life.  The reason for the book is to take the ideas of great thinkers and weave them with the works of great artists, dividing them into the six galleries.  This curating of the ideas and artworks provides a way for each of us to find which gallery we are in, how to move to the next one, and have the inspiration to keep going until we reach the end.

I have already discussed the first two galleries: 1) preparation for the journey and 2) need for belongingness or being involved with others.  Before I move on to Gallery Three, I want to mention one thing: the title of the book.

The title, Happiness: Cashing in Life’s IOUs, is borrowed from Maslow.  We all have an idea in our heads about what happiness might look like.  However, I think that the state of happiness is heavily objective – the thinkers and the artists share the same objectivity of what happiness looks like.  To say that happiness is contentment or fulfillment or satisfaction is too vague; those words don’t help.  What I realized in my research is that the state of happiness really is the redemption of all the IOUs that you collected during your life.  You did good deeds for others but you weren’t rewarded for your efforts.  You were given IOUs.  You waited and waited and collected more and more IOUs.  The day finally arrives, you are allowed to cash-in those many IOUs you collected over years and years.  Finally, happiness arrives!

 

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