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May 20th, 2010
11:55 AM ET

What makes people happy?

Happiness is something we all strive for in our lives. But is there a secret ingredient to being happy?

We asked five faith leaders of varying perspectives to answer the question, "What makes people happy?" Their answers showed that happiness comes from meaning and purpose in life. It's in your heart and soul and can come from helping others.

And if you're looking for perfect happiness, it doesn't exist. But imperfect happiness does.

- Associate Producer

Filed under: Culture & Science • Leaders

soundoff (800 Responses)
  1. umsu

    Through experience, I'll give you all a secret of happiness. Will benefit the one who applies it:
    Happiness is in Peace, Peace is in Worship which bring contentment and appreciation of God blessings, which bring Sincere Love of the Causer. Which will overflow your heart with weeping. Now you have tasted the fountain of happiness through true love.
    Oh my God what is this fountain of love that I sip but a drop and cry a river?

    May 22, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  2. noone

    He is a cheat

    May 22, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  3. Drew

    To Michael Wong, you probably consider yourself clever. You are where I was 20 years ago, before studying philosophy (and engineering) and then law. Your views are actually quite childish, reflecting the fears/cynicism of a 12 year old, and I am happy to explain why, but this is not the forum. Philosophy is rich with people far smarter than you.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:44 am |
    • Michael Wong

      Actually, I'm an engineer, with a wife and two kids, and unlike you, I actually make arguments based on points, rather than empty trash talk. Perhaps you should have also insulted my parentage, as long as you were attacking me without making the slightest effort to address my arguments.

      May 22, 2010 at 3:46 am |
  4. Krshn

    As usual, Deepcrock Chor(pa) gets it wrong. Making others happy makes on depressed not happy. People who put others needs and wants first are miserable. That does not mean that one should be self-centered or selfish to be happy. Just, as one of the others stated, both the personal and interpersonal are important.

    The more you do non-harmful things that enhance one's mood the happier one will be. Helping others can also make one feel good.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  5. munazar

    this is just thinking try to be happy if u fail try &try again you will be happy

    May 22, 2010 at 1:36 am |
  6. eissiec

    Never realized there were sooo many stupid people with so much to say about nothing. It doesn't make me unhappy just worried.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  7. Ms. Bridget Howe, Paratheologian and Writer

    Dr. Chopra, remember when you and I talked about going into the prisons? We were in Bruce Willis' Central Park West penthouse apartment? Is it time to work in the prisons, now, regarding the issue of the Death Penalty? Please advise.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  8. lance corporal

    ever see someone in a delusional state smiling happy as a lark? I have when working in a mental health facility. some of the ultra religious remind me of that, they feel the need to tell everyone that this blind faith in THIER god is the only way to happiness, so smug sooo self righteous.... and then they are shocked and offended and call foul when the non believers post RESPONSES to their condescending diatribes, and what is most galling to many of these non believers is that so many of these self professed god filled people do not live good lives, they are selfish and frequently unkind to those not of their little group, they despise difference and ACT on it, I USED to take the approach that I was one with all religions in the SEARCH for god/higher power but it has become harder and harder to be OK with what the judeo/christian/muslim/hindu religions put in to the world, I want to be OK with you but your hate TOWARD me is hard to absorb, I am a basically happy person and I think it is largely because I am thankful, even on a bad day this gift of life is a wonderous thing

    May 22, 2010 at 1:06 am |
    • Ray in Vegas

      Beautiful, awesome, relevant response. It's comments like yours that reassure me that the whole world is not in fact crazy and I'm not completely alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I too, for most of my life, have tried to keep an "open mind" about religion and others' beliefs. I too feel as if I am hated mostly in response to my efforts. Your last sentence, though, is where the real gold is. I love it: " ... I am a basically a happy person and I think it is largely because I am thankful, even on a bad day this gift of life is a wonderous thing". This issue and the postings worked me up only because I have been besieged by some really heavy, dramatic, painful stuff lately. I've had a long history with debilitating depression, but things have gotten worse lately because, even though I've made an effort, things only seem to get worse. Happiness is something I think of constantly, mainly because it has been so elusive. I am alive, though, and it is indeed a wonderous thing, problems and all. That is something worth celebrating. Thank you, again, for sharing.

      May 22, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  9. Bernadette Dwyer

    Am I the only one who is going to say money and mean it? Hold on. . . I just went back and looked and saw Gail's post. You're right Gail. So very right. I'm almost afraid to type that thought because I – as a good Roman Catholic – I am certain that God is admiring my keystrokes right now and shaking his head and thinking about tossing a lightning bolt my way. . . talk to anyone. . .their problems all stem from I'm hungry – I don't have money to eat; i'm thirsty – I don't have money to drink; I'm injured – I don't have money to see the doctor and get better; I live in squaller – I don't have money to move out; I can't get a job – I can't buy gas to drive to find a job; I can't get a babysitter to watch my kids while I go on an interview to get a job because I don't have money to pay the babysitter but I can't get a job because I can't go on an interview. . .hhmm. . .Hey God. . .are you watching your people suffer because we don't have money??? Make some more of it for us please. . .create it like you did the flood for Noah and the parting of the Red Sea for Moses. . find a modern day saint and reason/mystery and we'll follow.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • tt

      Surround yourself with people who love and care for you as much as you love and care for them, you will defeat anything life throws at you. I would never trade my love ones for any amount of money. And I mean ANY amount of money.

      May 22, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  10. rk

    this is absurd....all cnn commentary eventually becomes a religious flame war. makes sense, it has only been going on in real life for thousands of years now. people are just too blind and headstrong. oh well, different strokes for different folks.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  11. Jeff

    I know God lives!

    May 22, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  12. 2dv8

    Happiness is neither religious based for secular based, it is first a genetic make up and an environmental make up you are formed with from the beginning through your childhood. Second it is a choice you make every single day you wake up. Some have crappy lives growing up but chose to be happy, some have everything as a child and choose to throw it all away. Happiness....is what you make of it, it is your choice.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  13. Banba

    What ever this study concludes I think that it's amasing that talking about religion always seems to make people unhappy. Odd isn't it.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
    • 2dv8

      The greatest sins humans have inflicted on each other throughout history is in the name of religion!

      May 22, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  14. edmundburkeson

    It's no accident that "feeling good" is a priority to Chopra. He and his friend dyer believe that the key to a better world is "feeling good." And it has nothing to do with doing the right thing ... it's about "if it feels good, do it." Kumbya man ... and pass another joint!

    May 21, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  15. edmundburkeson

    How about a goat blood enema. This is what chopra's tradition of Aravedic medicine recommends.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
  16. Andy

    There is no formula of worldly things which will produce happiness, at least not for me. If there was, I could just keep playing online chess and be happy. But if I've already played a bunch and know there are other things I need to do, but start another game, I may feel happy for about 5 seconds. But it doesn't last. I can't enjoy it because the enjoyment is from God, and I am resisting Him.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • Wow!

      Very well said. Great comment.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  17. sunshine

    Feeling happy is mostly a genetic gift, external environment affects little to your happiness in a general sense. Put people into a same situation, you will find difference degrees happiness. Some people are always like sunshine, some people are always miserable.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  18. JT

    So CNN asks a loaded question and just assumes the answer lies somewhere on the faith spectrum? You know how many people find perfectly deep and sincere happiness in a cheese burger? or Rentboy.com? Why not pose the same question to 5 mechanics? or Librarians? 5 well-loved dogs? In all seriousness, this is a question for psychologists not faith leaders.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  19. Wow!

    If I didn't believe in Jesus, it would be an interesting question to consider why so many people wrote about his life and that the story would still be told 2000 years later. Why is our calendar based on when he was born? I would have to question why so many elements of this story still have a thread in today's world. But, I do belive in Christ, just because I have a feeling of peace when I follow the teaching he left us. Maybe that's the happiness part – because I help others a lot, and I feel free to choose between right and wrong – which are two things that seem to be the common thread in this discussion – and irronically happen to be fundamental principles of many religions. Why does religion exist anyway? And why are there so many of them? My guess is, Christ taught the basics – and some people didn't like what he taught, so changed the message and started their own churches. After a while, there were so many churches teaching what they wanted, that we get today's version of "canned" religion. I like that term – "canned" religion.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
    • David

      I liked " Canned Heat", the 60's band w/efferson airplane members in the group

      May 22, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  20. Andy

    Too little money can be discouraging, too much can be a trap which lures us away from what is important.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.