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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. Barry

    It's not hard. First one's mate! Learn to love and be loved in return – yes it takes practice – but it's life's greatest lesson. Next, put your heart into your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc. Give all of yourself; expect nothing in return. It's great! Finally, avoid people who don't like you and avoid people that you don't like. Eliminates stress and induces peace of mind. Also, remember the adage: Change the things that you can change, accept the things that you can't change, and be wise enough to know the difference.

    May 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • madhu Goyal

      Barry I think u said it very well.Also, look around and think of people of lesser god then u will automatically be happy.Hapyyness is believe and how u go around it all your life including changes.
      If you put a smile on other's face , you are a happy fellow if not u are obviously not happy.Always stick to positive thought.Stay away with negativity .Do your duty don't wait for result.Try to give love to as many people u can. Before u know it would be over. Love your family unconditionally,No ego.Happyness and sadness unseperable.Otherwise you won,t know the value of the other. Happiness comes after sadness.(Brain is complex.

      May 23, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  2. Richard

    personally, I'm pretty contented. I live by my own moral compass and I aspire to a level of success that suits me. Now, I do have my problems, like the usual: money, annoying boss, etc. but I put everything into perspective. "What would getting worked up solve?" is generally my motto. Which is not to say I don't get uspset or angry sometimes, but people should realise you won't be "happy" every second of every day. My only advice to leading a happier existance is to realise that anger and sadness have their uses just realise when anger or sadness are inappropriate fr a stuation and learn to control them.

    May 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      That's a good point. One cannot be happy all the time. If you're happy when your mother dies, I'd say you have a problem.

      May 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  3. John Richardson

    As someone who suffers from frequent heartburn, I recall with a mixture of horror and amusement Chopra's two line pronouncement in one of his books that his hospital stopped giving out antacids and starting giving out just water and the water worked better. I assure one and all that Chopra is a liar and if he did indeed make this change he is a scoundrel. Now, put a little baking soda in that water and you got something! It's simple chemistry. Heartburn is caused by acid and while you can wash some away with water, you need a BASE chemical to actually neutralize it. Baking soda in water IS cheaper and better than most other options. You want to save money and get the job done better, go for it! But DON'T make patients suffer because of your ideological idiocies and don't peddle lies, in books, on TV, over the net or anywhere else!

    May 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      How is that any more dishonest than Christians saying that prayer can heal you, or that Jesus can take away your cancer? Why is Chopra a liar for saying something that is medically unsound, while Christians are merely "misguided" at worst?

      May 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  4. Oral

    I believe that God gives you blessings but happiness is up to you!

    May 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  5. Camanay

    Altruism is really a selfish human activity. Making others happy, like gambling, fishing and other intermittent-reinforcing activities, activates our brain's pleasure center and gives us a nice warm, fuzzy feeling. So it's a chemical reaction. No need to get all religious over it.

    May 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      Sounds like someone's channeling Ayn Rand again. Sorry, but defining altruism as "selfish" because it makes most people feel good about themselves is just an exercise in absurdity, because it renders the entire concept of word "selfish" utterly pointless. What voluntary activity is NOT selfish when you use such a broad definition?

      The actual definition of "selfish" in the dictionary includes the term "without regard for others", so you're simply wrong. Altruism is NOT selfish.

      May 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  6. CA Dreaming

    Yes we did HT, didn't you read my last comment?

    May 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  7. HT

    Interesting, they didn't ask one woman for her opinion...

    May 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  8. jstsaying

    Deepak Chopra is the televangelist of the East, only instead of television he has cornered the 'self help' section of our book stores. What makes him happy is the millions of dollars he makes off of yuppies without a life. Check out the prices at the Chopra center, seriously....Tammy, Jim and Deepak.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  9. CA Dreaming

    Why are Clams so Happy?

    May 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  10. xyzzy2005

    If we live every moment knowing that life is not a dress rehersal but to do what we like to do this very NOW, we wont run after these freaks who preach about happiness for a buck.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  11. xyzzy2005

    What qualifies any of these guys to be able to speak of joy or happiness ? They are pretenders making a buck out of the joy myth while we are the fools to read their stories and CNN to publish, looking for heroes whom we think are happier or more joyful than others.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  12. aaaaaah

    I find it hilarious how everyone takes this as an opportunity to have another 'is god real and is religion necessary' conversation.

    nobody cares what your personal vue on religion is. and at any rate, you are beating a dead horse.

    fact: most religions, REGARDLESS OF THE GOD THAT IT IS BASED ON, have the same golden rule

    The rule is :::: treat others how you want to be treated, and helping others brings happiness.

    stop playing your broken record on whether or not 'God' has anything to do with it, and just BE A GOOD PERSON.

    if you need God to get you there, Great!
    if you think you can do it on your own, Great!

    PS. If you want to think God is fictional, fine. But to the ignorant dude that said Jesus is fictional, thats like saying Christopher Columbus is fictional. Factual, scientific data – There was a man named Jesus. Same guy. did he preform miracles, was he the son of God? THAT is up for your debat (in another forum, and once again – nobody really cares)
    But he was a real man.

    That is all, have a day.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • rwethereyet

      I find it hilarious that you take the same opportunity that you find hilarious and then claim nobody cares about their opinions yet you seem to think we should care about yours cuz you continue to go on and tell us anyway.
      The irony isn't even subtle it's blatantly hilarious. Thank you for describing yourself to a tee.

      May 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • Dhakir

      some of us do care

      May 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      The fact that there was probably someone named Jesus at the time proves nothing. If the real Jesus' life story diverges enough from the mythical one, then the two might as well be completely different people who merely share a name. In order for Jesus to be a historical figure, he has to have done all of the major things which are attributed to him, like performing miracles and rising from the dead. Otherwise, it's completely fair to say he was a fictional character.

      May 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • glennrussell

      You said it all. People in the future years from now will say a black man was never elected president and the video from the past is false. (Neo- Nazis etc.) – kind of like we didn't walk on the moon and there was no Holocaust though two recent neighbors of mine told me about the concentration camps. And so it goes with the nuts saying Jesus wasn't real. Is the Shroud of Turin a figment of everyoneone's imagination? Anyway, I have met lots of wealthy people, they're plenty happy not helping anyone but their immediate family and doing very little for society...

      May 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  13. Julianna Szijarto

    We are all looking for happiness.That is the ultimate goal in our life. So many ideas, concepts and manusripts around, to advise you how to find it.......?? We have a reason to complain about something all the time, so I choose not to complain anymore.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  14. rwethereyet

    What makes me happy is searing animal flesh on a grill and a nice glass of vino.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  15. CA Dreaming

    If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it fall, will it make you happy? Oh wait that's not what I meant to say. You are only as happy as your last happy moment. Nah, that's no good. How about, "Happy is as Happy Does" Yes, that's it. Forest Gump did what made him happy. We could all take a lesson from him. It's called being selfless.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Holy Cow

    I find it interesting that CNN asked (or at least posted) opinions from men who are known to be religious and/or spiritual. There were no secular opinions there (the humanist from Harvard was the closest) and there were no opinions from women. I also find it interesting that there are a lot of posts from Christians who are, once again, spouting their close-minded dogma that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and happiness. Does this mean that all followers of Mohammed, Judaism, Zoroaster and Buddha cannot be happy and cannot find their way to God. Maybe we need to watch out for Christian as well as Islamic extremism.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  17. roslynn

    Why weren't any women asked about happiness for this piece?

    May 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  18. John Lennon

    Happiness is a warm gun (bang-bang, shoot-shoot).

    May 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  19. Ali Shallwani

    If you only saw the events I am going through, you would wonder how I am even surviving. My two sisters are very sick – due to the problems that I am having. The stress has taken a toll on them. On the other hand, I am handling myself quite well. What is keeping me going is knowing that what I am experiencing is temporary – that I will survive and that I am going to come out stronger and have a better life ahead of me. Last Monday was supposed to be the worst day of my life, however, looking back, it wasn't that bad. Couple of my loved ones died – pretty bad – but now looking back, less than a week ago, I think it was the best that could have happened to them. Someone was assaulted in my family – once again, good that it happened. Looking back, that Monday might have changed my life, but it was for the good.
    So, hang in there. Time is on your side. Don't give up hope. Good days and happier times are just around the corner.
    Trust me, I have experienced it first hand.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  20. albie

    religion is responsible for more unhappiness than happiness - Falwells comments esp are just plain ridiculous

    May 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
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About this blog

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.