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. Bronzepony

    Happiness is wanting what you have not having what you want. When you are simply content to be your self and don't compete or compare you will be happy.
    There is no greater curse than discontent !

    May 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  2. BOB

    we feel happy when we acheive something.we feel happy when we love what we do.Happiness is good healthy feeling which human beings get when they do things that are likebly to them.Please do not relate happiness through god.Money is one factor to be happy.if u do not have money people are sad.don't you agree? Thats what my personnel understanding is.Happiness can be obtained when people are in groups.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  3. Ron

    I am glad that so many people from different religious and philosophical backgrounds feel that caring for other people is our own path to happiness and joy. I hope this idea continues to be very widely known and practiced.

    If anyone is interested in a few interesting books written by people from the world of science, take a look at "God The Evidence", Glynn; "The Hidden Face of God", Schroeder; and "The Spiritual Brain – A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul", Beauregard and O'Leary. These books are thought provoking for people who are science minded. Belief and faith in God provides a context for me, explaining where I came from, why I am here and where I am going after I die. I like to be happy every day, but I feel more complete in this larger picture.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • Wow!

      Great comment!!!!

      May 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  4. Gail

    Money is the root of all happiness....

    May 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • contented

      A cold 12 pack helps a lot too.

      May 22, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  5. Wow!

    Ray in Vegas – Good thoughts! I've wondered why people are so defensive when it comes to religion. I'm interested – even passionate about my beliefs, but I'm amazed that people are so negatively charged with their opinions/beliefs. What's with that? Is it built in "fear"? Why would someone even care if another person they've never met on a post not believe in the same thing? I just think it's interesting the reactions here. There does seem to be a lot of heat.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  6. Michael Wong

    Part of me actually wishes that Jesus actually is real, so I can see him come back and witness his legions of American gun-toting war-mongering right-wing SUV-driving McMansion-owning anti-welfare followers and recoil in horror.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • David

      Micheal ,it's after 11:00pm and it's time for bedddy time and your meds,cmon now and hurry up and tuck in and don't forget your prayers,remember , were all praying for you to pull through this

      May 22, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • Michael Wong

      Ah. I see you think you can use clever mockery to distract from a point you have no answer for. I suppose you think no one will notice this obvious dodge, eh?

      May 22, 2010 at 3:47 am |
  7. Viki

    Amazing comments and so much interest !!!

    It should be evident why this etrernal quest can easily mislead so many people by any religious group (NOT ANY ONE IN PARTICULAR).

    May 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  8. Andy

    Observation tends to show us that we and everything in the universe fits together in a fascinating way and that we are all related to each other somehow.

    We know what happiness looks like and we know what we ought to do. We don't have a problem with those things.

    We have a problem with finding happiness, with doing what we ought to do.

    Our life is not an accident, it comes from God who is the source. We must be plugged into the power source to experience it to the fullest.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  9. Gail

    wealth, wealth, wealth,....climbing the ladder of materialism provides all the joy, and happiness anyone could hope for–just ask Donald Trump!

    May 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm |

    Andy, I am sorry for what I said to you it seems that you are a believer, and your last statement was right on. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:21

    May 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
    • Andy

      No problem my friend.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  11. seth

    Gail- So would you be unhappy living next to Bill Gates, because I know your not that rich.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  12. Ray in Vegas

    Why would you ask five "faith leaders" and what on Earth is that supposed to mean? Coming from a hyper-religious Catholic upbringing in my immediate family and surrounded by Evangelical relatives who are always preaching , I can tell you that relgion does not make people happy. If you wanted to ask an important question like "what makes people happy" then ask "people". Most "religious" people I know are screwed up mentally, tend to have a nasty temperament, and are far from happy. I consider myself an atheist / agnostic. Believe it or not, however, I also consider myself a very spiritual person. I think of my place in the universe and and wonder with mind boggling fascination how it all fits together and what, if anything, it could all mean. Most people who are "religous" use a set of rules either in a book or set by someone else to tell them what is right and wrong. They don't actually use there mind. What is right and wrong is usually very obvious to anyone who believes in fairness and that we are all part of the same human family. I see more kindness and fairness from non-religious people than the other way around. What makes people happy is this: feeling needed, loved, appreciated, having a sense of accomplishment and feeling physically healthy. You don't need "faith leaders" or canned religion to tell you that. Observing any group of mammals teaches us these things. It's elementary.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  13. vmitchell

    First rate fraud, peddling ancient hinduism from India as his own, making millions while not acknowledging his 'source' material – adds nonsense to make it sound 'new age' and giver westerners the pizazz they think they need.

    He is a joke and a disgrace, made into something he's not by a gullible media pre-disposed to drinking snake oil

    May 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      And that makes him different from any other religious leader ... how?

      May 21, 2010 at 10:57 pm |

    Alienprophecy, I beg you to reconsider the logic of what you are saying, the essence of it is that all is relative in the domain of morals and values to which you cannot assert to another person whether what they are doing is right or wrong. you are caught in the quagmire of relativism.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  15. Andy

    The world says the more you control others the happier and more successful you are. The Word says the more you help others the happier and more successful you are. Jesus told the rich young man, "Sell everything and give to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me."

    May 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      The funny thing is that you have not personally sold everything and given it to the poor. Yet you preach this message that you yourself haven't the slightest intention of obeying.

      May 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  16. Gail

    Need I repeat myself again? Are all you people in la la land?? What matters is getting filthy rich and shoving it in your neighbor's face. What is all this ethereal crap?

    May 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • contented

      they are all space cadets, what did you expect?

      May 22, 2010 at 7:54 am |

    G, That was your thoughtful discussion on this topic, there is no evidence for the existence of Santa. The evidence for the historical Jesus of Nazareth is beyond debate. Both Internal and external evidence is overwhelming.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      You realize that most of the "evidence" for Jesus was actually made after the fact, by Christians, after Rome turned to Christianity, right?

      May 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Beyond the Bible, where is all of this "overwhelming external evidence"???

      There is a tomb that is claimed by some to be that of Joseph of Aramathea. Claimed.

      There is a shroud kept in Turin that dates to the Middle Ages that people claim to be a burial cloth. Claimed.

      So far, we have an old book of dubious reference, a religion based on a man named James, who took over when his brother, the world's first hippie, was killed because he was a threat to the religious authorities (based on more falsehoods), who then convinced the Romans that he was a political threat, as well.

      Then we have a tomb that a church was built on that suppossedly held the body of James' brother, Jesus, who was likely stolen by friends of James to purpetuate one of the largest and most elaborate hoaxes perpetrated on mankind.

      Then we have a Medieval fraud. When does it all end????

      May 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  18. Luke

    You are all wrong. The Force is the real religion.

    May the force be with you all.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • Andy

      May the Lord be with you.

      May 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      Yes, Lord Yoda is indeed with us.

      May 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  19. NYCmitch25

    I suppose that argument is somewhat right, but really from what I've read, humans really need to have control (or the perception of that) to feel a sense of satisfaction.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  20. alienprophecy

    The first guy could be described as co-dependent. I didn't bother looking at the rest, because, if you need to read a CNN article to tell you what makes you happy, you've got problems that one article can't fix.

    Happiness, for me, is the ability to live my life as I choose, to be able to choose my own priorities and values. Happiness is freedom–so long as I'm not hurting anyone else. This means both fiscal and civil liberties (and that doesn't mean a politician stealing from someone else to give to me). Happiness is the freedom from the tyranny of other people who would try to tell me what I should be and live for. Freedom is less government and more individual.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:34 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.