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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. S.Carr

    Maybe tolerance is more useful than happiness. We don't have to agree on anything. We don't even have to like each other which, apparently, we don't. But we will never move forward as a species or a country until we live and let live. Don't tell me what to believe and I won't tell you. You want to practice a REAL act of kindness? Keep it to yourself.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Maggie

    Free will is a gift from God without it life would not be enjoyable or worthwhile. We can choose to aknowledge the giver and give him credit or we can choose not to. However, when I look at myself I came to the conclusion that I am too wonderfull made and too complex to be happened by mere chance. So therefore I make it my business to know my creator and give credit where credit is due. From reading the bible, I was able to find the answer to question like: why are we here? How did we get here? Why our body has the same elements found in the ground? Who is God? what is his purpose for us? why did he created us? why are there so much sufferings? why do we get sick? Why do we die? What happens at death? Why does not God intefere? Why men are unable to solve their basic problems? Why with all the knowledge men have they can not turn one grey hair black? And what is the love of God means? And guess what, even my seven year old knows the answer to these questions. God does not force anyone to aknowledge him and choose not to, he is not going to burn you in hell either because the wages of sin is death and once you die you are released for your sin.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • dhakir

      Well, you think deep. Truth is distinct from falsehood. The power of choice was given to man for a purpose. Choose right and you shall be rewarded with absolute happiness. Make the wrong choice and you will have yourself to blame, eternally. You have used your faculties of intellect, and you have seen the truth. However, there is only one truth, so we have to get it right, as we have only one chance.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mantooth

      Maggie, if you are so wonderfully made, why do you have an appendix, wisdom teeth and breathe/eat down the same tube? That's pretty shoddy design from any Grand Architect.

      Also, going to the Bible to validate God's existence is like asking Bigfoot if the Loch Ness Monster exists.

      May 21, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Dwight Huth

    Faith cannot tell a person what makes them happy. The only person that knows what makes them happy is the person theirself. If the establishment tells you that this or that will make you happy then this is called social engineering. Social engineering is where a group of people are told what makes them happy and what makes them sad just so the group leader can make a profit of said emotions. If someone tells you what makes you happy or sad then they are trying to manipulate you to be their cash cow to make money from which makes them happy with the more they have or sad with the less they have. Social engineering is also a form of communism where peoples emotions and actions are micromanaged on a minute by minute basis for the absolute control over a person or group of people.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Jack

    No one can tell you how to be happy. Only you can do it. Lots of people can tell you how to be happy but deep down in their hearts there is no happiness for their own lives! That includes preachers, counselors, religious leaders, doctors..etc...Believe in God does not you happy. Lots of people believe in God but live miserable lives: divorce, anger, selfishness... Because there is no clear purpose in life for believing in an unseen god up in the sky. Happiness is to know, to realize and to have knowledge to solve problems in your life and to help others do the same.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  5. PSG2

    I started reading these comments and couldn't even finish reading them all. Jesus is NOT imaginary people. He was a real person born of a virgin that was sent here as a sacrifice for our sins. ALL of us. YOU & ME. All of you have the right to believe whatever you like, but I could not read another post with someone calling Jesus imaginary and not stand up for what I believe. Have any of you ever heard of the bible???

    May 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • ImJusSayinn

      Im with you PSG2...I couldnt believe all the posts sayin Jesus was imaginary, but now that I look back at them they are from the same people over and over again. Its pretty sad to see, but I have nothing bad to say about them as I will not be the one to judge them in the end, God will.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • John

      Look at it this way. You believe that jesus is real. I do not believe that god exists or that jesus was a son of that god. Both of us are welcome to believe as we will, and both of us are equally right.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • David

      it's odd that every year, it's still the # 1 seller at the book store?

      May 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  6. waynebob

    Not to be argumentative, but why are so many Christians unhappy/angry/self-absorbed? The usual response to this question is that they somehow are at fault, lack faith, have unconfessed sin, or some variant on this theme. What do you think?

    May 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • Jack

      Because faith is unclear. Happiness can not base on it. Maybe dangerous to live in faith. I have known people saying they have faith, believe in God but showing no difference from those who don't believe in god.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  7. sarda

    Once you receive blessing of the God realization through a real Saint. that is when a human gets full of happiness and its never ending and no one can take away for you.. you live in this worldly world, but always enjoy whatever you do.... If you really want to follow the path of God realizatoin please visit my Guru Kripalu Ji Maharaj in India. You will be completly changed.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  8. Ralph

    you think happiness would be the opposite of what makes us sad. We need both.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  9. PollyP

    You need freedom in some degree in order to be happy.

    Our fore fathers understood that freedom allowed for a Pursuit of Happiness.

    This also applies to the earlier post about being ill. This limits a person's ability to pursue the life they would like to pursue.

    Victor Frankel understood this and found freedom (and a degree of happiness) in his mind when he was in the concentratiion camps. Powerful stuff!

    May 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  10. JDD

    Just because you don't believe in God doesn't make it so. You might pull out at an intersection believing there was no traffic, but if a vehicle is coming, your belief that there isn't one doesn't change the fact there is. Also, you don't go to God for forgiveness through Christ for happiness – He didn't promise happiness. You go to God for forgiveness through Jesus to flee the wrath to come. Like it or not, we will stand before the only true God and give an account – whehter you believe or not. If you've lied, or stolen, or hated, or made your own god – you will be found guilty. An the punishment is terrible. However, there is One, Jesus Christ Who paid your fine. You can go free. Repent (turn from your sin) and trust and follow Him.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • Jack

      Religion is based upon fear. Why a god likes to punish someone who does not believe in him? That kind of god does not exist. It is a made up god for people who like to be in control. "If you don't believe Him, you will end up in hell." This intimidation works quite often. Because human beings have no ability to know the unknown! All preachers talk well on God and faith subjects, but deep in their hearts they don't know for sure. No one knows.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Mike in NJ

      And just because I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that also does not make it so. But fear is certainly no reason to have Faith. Faith is born of Love; any other faith is false. Which is why teaching to fear God is ultimately self-defeating. So believe what you will because you will it, not because you fear the alternative.

      May you all be Touched by His Noodly Appendage. RAMEN.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Mike in NJ

      Oh yeah, and a quick Google [jesus promises happiness] got me this, so your staement is incorrect:
      "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you… If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." – John 13-17."

      And further, this.
      "(Matthew 5:3-12) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [...]. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      Do you know what "blessed" means? It comes from the Greek word "makarios", meaning extreme happiness; being in a state of bliss; being completely fulfilled, in need of nothing."

      May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • daniel tovin

      Indeed, religion is based upon fear. It is culturally constructed and therefore false. It's an us against them mentality, a complete negation of what is proven, and systemic and pervasive use of mind control. Moreover, more people have died because of their so called "god" than all the plagues, famine, and disease combined. Religion is the true evil. It is the most destructive, hateful, and hate filled phenomenon that permeates our society. Sadly, people willingly subscribe to this force of destruction, cede their agency, and ultimately loose their ability to think. If only the false notion of "god" did not exists, there would be no hate, there would be no wars, there would be no evil.

      May 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  11. GK

    I believe happiness is nothing but a state of mind. If conditioned turns into anything other than joy. Only a second of silence, ones true self, from chaos is required to realize this truth.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  12. Bagman

    Take the crap out in the morning, you will be happy.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • anne

      boy, you must have some bad stomach problems if this is what really makes you happy..:)

      May 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  13. Jesus

    I once thought I was happy. But you can have happy moments, I'm not going to deny that. But Joy, peace and love only comes from God through Jesus Christ. If I could just let everyone feel when I feel God's presence or when Jesus came into my heart nobody would change that feeling for nothing in the world.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Jack

      When you eat first piece of chocolate, you say "wow" but then after eating 10 pcs of chocolate you don't say "wow" no more. That is why when some one gets tired of doing drugs, lives a miserable life he or she found god and says "wow, I'm liberated!" but after a while nothing is especial about god. When some one has faith and believe in god for a long time, and nothing special about it. He or she "switches" to the other side for not to believe in god and he or she says "wow, I am liberated from guilt I have never committed!" It is just a matter of boredom!

      May 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • Matt

      "I once thought I was happy. But you can have happy moments, I'm not going to deny that. But Joy, peace and love only comes from God through Jesus Christ."

      Are you sure you just didn't receive a lobotomy without knowing it?

      May 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  14. sunshine

    I think we can all tell who is happy and who is not, by the tones of all the previous blogs. Good luck to all who cannot find happiness.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • NC

      well said:-)

      May 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
  15. Talon6

    I can't believe that CNN is so hard up for news to report that they would stoop to reporting ignorant nonsense like this. Must really be a slow news day.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • disappointed

      well, at 250 comments and counting, I think they achieved a pretty good reaction, don't you ? LOL

      May 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  16. Sue

    Who paid these morons to tell me (in an annoying, sickly-sweet, condescending voice, no less) what my happiness should be ?? Or that if I'm not folowing their rules and reading their books, I might be scarred irrepairably ? What a load of cr@p ! Everyone has their own definition of happiness and their own ways of attaining it. I don't need any preaching !!

    May 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • jim

      I think you may be the only person here who really has even an inkling what happiness really is!

      May 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Peace

    BS.. Happiness is all about Money for these guys! These 'Faith' leaders are happy coz they are rolling in dough telling us to have Faith!

    May 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Laura from Texas

    There are many claiming to be Christians, but they really are not. They may push their so called faith, probably based on the same instincts that sports fanatics push for their team. But there are millions of Christians who really do know the God of the bible is real, and that He sent Jesus to earth as the saviour. Face it, we cannot save ourselves. Those who do know for sure, know because they asked God to tell them truth. You do not need to go seek God in any of the religions out there. If you simply, honestly ask God, he will open your understanding. The bible is full of basic principles and one is Jesus' example that he came to serve and not to be served. This goes in line with Deepak and his principle that you can achieve happiness by making others happy. By making others happy does not mean you become a door mat. You need to use the intelligence God gave you as you do it. It is all there in the bible if you care to read it. But if you do not have the gift of understanding that God gives to those who ask, then the bible will not make any sense to you.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Zena

      That's the same comment all christians say about other christians. It's a cop-out! Why don't you just start taking responsibility for your own people instead of trying to force yourself on everybody else?

      May 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Matt

      "Face it, we cannot save ourselves."

      Save ourselves? From what? Hell? It doesn't exist.

      May 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  19. Muslim guy

    Faith leaders, but none from the world's 2nd largest faith were asked? If this article was about terrorism, they would ask every Muslim on the street, let alone a leader.

    May 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • dhakir

      You took the words right from my mouth

      May 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Angela Walsh

      Big apology for that...Please share more...

      May 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Hindu

      I think we know the answer to that already!

      May 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • mab

      I agree. According to CNN, the 1 billion muslims in the world do not count. Kudos!

      May 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Candace

      Well said, Muslim guy. Note – no other adherants to other religions were asked. Extremely one-dimentional.

      May 22, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  20. Steven Cravis

    My happiness comes from writing music – and from togetherness with family and friends.

    May 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Eve

      mine comes from my art and family..and i thought by giving to someone I love but I am the only one who gives. I don't know how healthy that is in the long run 😦 Damn my romantic fairytale def. of love and happiness~

      May 21, 2010 at 12:57 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.