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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. Hombre8

    I do not need any god to be happy, I just need other people. Every day, scientists are discovering more and more how science can explain the existence of all life on earth. Religion only sets itself back every day. Please people, stop being sheep and realize that you HAVE BEEN LIED TO YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. It's hard to deny god if this is what you have been taught from the beginning, but don't you think that by now, you should be wise enough to begin seriously doubting? You base most everything else in your life around facts and evidence. Faith is self-delusion and it's just not good enough.
    However, It is always very nice to see so many non-believers on these comment pages; it makes me optimistic for the future to know that there are more that are so much closer to the truth.

    May 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  2. edmundburkeson

    If we are to follow the example of Chopra ... true happiness comes from lying to people about where true happiness comes from. Both Chopra and Dyer, the New Age gurus, will never tell you that they are feeding you Hindu mantras dressed in modern, secular pyscho-babel. They will tell you it's easy when in reality they are giving you 10 guidelines, 15 suggestions, 20 helpful hints ... by the time you get to the end of their books you will find 1200 – equal to the number of mantras – not so easy, huh? the mantras are designed to clear the chakras for the presence of the deom goddess Siva. If that's what you want to believe ... fine! But they will never tell you that. They are too busy accusing Christians of forcing beliefs on people – something which New Agers are more guilty of than any other movement. I think a little honesty is in order here Deep!!! But wait!! There is no mantra for honesty is there?

    May 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  3. r

    All these fools need to read the works of Ayn Rand.

    May 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      Why? Ayn Rand's followers are as much of a cult as any organized religion.

      To replace one prophet with another is no improvement. Ayn Rand did not just try to tear down religion; she tried to replace it with her own flawed ideology.

      May 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  4. Michael Wong

    One of the secret to happiness is understanding and accepting that all of the things other people do, even if you dislike them, are just their own attempts to achieve their own happiness.

    May 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Pam I am

      I agree. Everything, without exception, that people do can be ultimately traced to an attempt to be happy. And in how they know best at that time.

      May 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  5. CAPT. BILLY

    TRUTHFULLY HAPPYNESS IS A SAIL BOAT OR A TRAILER AND A PULL CAR AND A GOOD CAMP CHAIR.

    May 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  6. Anonymous Aurelius

    Jeez. The main question was what you think makes people happy. I agree with this cat right here:
    "Jen
    fasciniating to note that those affiliated with the church believe happiness comes from faith in God, compared with others who state happiness comes from good relationships, family, helping others etc. I think faith in God can lead to happiness but certainly that is not the only path to happiness."

    May 23, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • r

      Faith in God can lead to happiness? Do you know anything of current affairs or world history?

      May 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Lelouch

    I believe that happiness is all about perspective what may make some happy might not make the other happy i think that what deepak is trying to say is that helping others can make you and the other person happy as well it dosnt matter what ideology you are happy is left up the individual its like ZERO said the way to describe happiness would be the form of glass

    May 23, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  8. Kelly Kuykendall

    I think true happiness comes with self acceptance and helping toughs in need and also having respect and compassion for one another. I have struggled with self acceptance for a long time because I am overweight and now have realized that when people say mean and nasty things it is not my fault it has something to do with there self esteem trying to make them self's feel better, no one helped me in my moment of needing true help, so if I get the chance I will help some one else who needs some one to lean on for support, pay it forward!

    May 23, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  9. Pam

    To make the world a happy place – we should not envy others. We should strive to achieve what we want in life and not want what other people have. We should try to help those in need. Doing good for others creates a good feeling.These are some hints that will make the world a happy place and also for people

    May 23, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • r

      So you are not doing good things for others for any altruistic reason; rather you are doing good for others for a selfish reason: because it makes you feel good.

      Helping others is not a duty – it's an act of generosity and nothing more. It's too bad in this society we gauge one's value by their level of need.

      May 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  10. j.e. castello

    all people are born with a "sense" of happiness....it is like any of the other senses...more keen in some than others...but it doesn't come from anything outside of the person themselves...babies can be happy...they don't do any of the things listed here in this article...

    May 23, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  11. NOWIKNOW

    I suspect all the people here who write against Deepak Chopra are the 'Jesus is the ONLY way' believers , perhaps cuz they feel he has hijacked their cause.
    Most of what Deepak says is based on the ancient spiritual teachings of India. Which is the same as what Buddha taught and what Jesus taught. When Jesus said 'I am the way', he meant he had found the way to realizing his divinity and so could we all. Jesus taught love and forgiveness as the 'way', Buddha taught compassion for everyone as the path. Ancient Indian teachings say 'Namaste' which means 'the divine in me greets the divine in you'. To me they are all saying the same thing in slightly different ways. The key is to practise the way that they showed instead of arguing about it.

    May 23, 2010 at 8:19 am |
    • logic

      Fine, love, compassion, and forgiveness are all good. But I just don't think it is positively correlated with any religion. I don't need "faith leaders" to tell me what is happiness, because they are better at selling insurance of people's second life, a.k.a. religion. I'd rather trust some psychologists and sociologists.

      May 23, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • NOWIKNOW

      The 'faith leaders' never said they were starting a faith, that came later from their 'followers'. They were psychologists and teachers of their time, teaching psychology of the mind. The key is not to be upset about it when people want to push these teachings as a faith, and especially as 'the only true faith', the key is to find if what they said is true for yourself.

      For example the Buddha said" In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for being right". A modern day psychologist is very likely to teach the same. But it isn't true for me unless I test it out.

      May 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • NOWIKNOW

      Otherwise, isn't just accepting what the psychologists say also 'blind faith?

      May 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  12. Energizedat50

    When I attempt and succeed at doing the right thing, I experience happiness. Sometimes it's hard to know the right thing to do. That's where God comes into play in my life, by virtue of studying holy books that for me are play books that lead to a deeper and richer life. It is God's wisdom found in those holy books: The Old and New Testaments, the Tao, Gandhi, and others that provide guidance that lead to inner-peace. Religiosity is the imperfect human expression of devotion to God, which ought not to be judged so harshly.

    May 23, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  13. ZERO

    if we could happiness a physical form it would be the shape of glass because even though you don"t notice it, its still there you merely have to change your point of view and the glass sparkle and reflect the light i doubt anything could argue its exsistance more eloquently

    May 23, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  14. Charles Almon

    I generally avoid any thing with the words Deepak Chopra attached to them.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Good choice!!! His logic is very fuzzy!! Except that is when he discusses Hindu theology in academic settings. Then his logic is razor sharp and rational. His American audience is not ready for the truth about Deep. He is allowed to be fuzzy and evasive because New Agers will swallow anything as long as it sounds spiritual and belongs to – The Others – the mythical ancient lost wisdoms of the ages – which are just that – myth. There was no golden age of secret wisdom.

      May 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  15. P. Earthes

    Happiness is elusive. No intelligent person can look at this world and claim to be entirely happy, but even the most desperate people on earth can find genuine happiness.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Vincente

    Happiness is knowing that you've done the best of your ability to this point in your life. Maintaining that happiness is making sure you continue to make decisions that won't keep you from pursuing your goals. That's why I don't understand why people get married and have kids so early in life. Go out, go for you dreams, and settle down after you've lived out your dreams. Don't let anyone/thing stand in your way and make you feel like you need to sacrifice. Sacrificing too much leads to resentment when you realize you gave away your life. DO WHAT YOU WANT!!!!

    May 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • logic

      I respect your opinion but I find it a little selfish and irresponsible. Plus, how to define "so early" for marriage and having kids? 20? 30? 50? There will always be people who get married and have kids earlier than you, and there will be the ones that are later than you. You can find happy/unhappy ones in both categories.

      That day I was chatting with a co-worker. When he said "I just don't see the point of having kids", I said "someone have to do it, otherwise we will become extinct in 100 years."

      May 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      Vincente, why do you assume that peoples' dreams must be purely selfish ones?

      May 23, 2010 at 2:08 am |
  17. Kelly

    How come all the photos and quotes are men? I adore Deepak... but but really? CNN could only feature men in this article?

    May 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  18. cosmicsnoop

    It would make me happy if everyone would understand that I don't really care what makes you happy. So be happy or not, who cares?

    May 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  19. steve

    Religion is made up! Read "the god delusion" and let's talk

    May 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  20. rubydina

    Regardless of belief in some form of a higher power.

    Giving to others and getting out of ones self usually does help people feel happier and that was the main point.

    May 22, 2010 at 8:06 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.