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. Dale

    Take Osteen, Falwell Jr., Falwell Sr. and every other preacher of a hypocritical religion out of this discussion and you'll have a much easier time recognizing the source of true happiness. It certainly doesn't come from prosperity gospel!

    May 22, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  2. Chris

    Religious freedom is an oxymoron. I'm happy I'm no longer a part of such nonsense. Why would you ask faith leaders about happiness? "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one." – George Bernard Shaw

    May 22, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  3. Jeff Schieding

    Deepak's a fraud. Sure, he'll tell you how to be happy if you buy his book. His philosophies are based on Hinduism-nothing original so don't waste your money.

    May 22, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  4. John Lennon

    Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one

    May 22, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  5. Candace

    It would have been useful to read insights from "experts" who are not white men, save Depak. But still – a lineup of men. My grandmother, as are others, I'm sure, is quite more the experte and sage than what I'm reading here. It's such a one-dimentional approach, CNN.

    May 22, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  6. evelyn magarro

    Everything is revolved around God. If you do not have faith in God then there is no joy and happiness.
    You have to have an spiritual beliefs in order to achieved joy and happiness.
    Love one another.

    May 22, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  7. Bill

    Huh... the only people who know anything about happiness are a buddhist, a rabbi, and several southern baptist ministers. How about some non-religious repsonses? A leading psychologist? An author of a book on happiness? Heck, the local homeless guy. Why does there have to be a religious theme woven through it all? And I am a go-to-church-every-Sunday-Catholic. Come on CNN.

    May 22, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  8. njNewsReader

    It's such a scam that people make a living out of this simple common sense. And, why did they choose religious people to talk about this?

    May 22, 2010 at 8:07 am |
    • Ray in Vegas

      Yup. My point exactly! Although you said it in fewer words. (See my first post on this list.)

      May 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Service not Happiness

    What would our society look like if our forefathers (and mothers) in their wisdom would have written "pursuit of selflessness" rather than "pursuit of happiness?" The former focuses on others...the latter on us.

    May 22, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  10. Angie

    The bible is clear – your personal 'happiness' will only come once you are in heaven. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ you WILL be met with persecution, hardship, and trouble in this life. He was met with all of this and more, He was killed – for US! and He told us that we would be HATED for following Him – and you see that now- and you will see that with the respone to this post – oer just tell anyone the only way to God is through Jesus Christ – because that is the Truth.

    People confuse Joy with Happiness – and that is what most of you are doing – Joy ONLY comes from a personal realtionship with the Lord and that is a GIFT you cannot earn it.

    May 22, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  11. livingthelife

    When I became a Christian what I read in the bible didn't jive with what I thought it would be like I thought it was all about making my life easier. What it says is loving others is loving God and that love goes the extra mile and turns the other cheek. This was difficult for me at first because, I was me oriented, and sometimes it is still but I have found that loving God has made my life richer, more meaningful and happier. So it did make my life easier just not in the way that I expected. Another nice thing about it...the people around me are better off for it. Humans need humans and I have found the Christian faith to be the answer for me.

    May 22, 2010 at 6:43 am |
  12. Lankartur

    This is an old communist theory.

    May 22, 2010 at 6:34 am |
  13. Dan Low

    Strategies for Happiness
    from the Chairman and CEO of ME & Co.

    Hi, my name is Dan, and I'm the head of one of the largest conglomerates in the world. My main business is helping me feel good. My side business is helping others feel good. I get a great kickback for this ;-). As most companies need to generate profits, I generate moments of peace and happiness. In fact, « profits » are simply states of feeling good.

    ME & Co. was created many years ago with little capital, a mind, and a body – and it has grown into a huge conglomerate!

    Why am I sharing my strategies with you? To churn out more profits, of course ;-). You can share these strategies with others and generate even greater profits, er... I mean good feelings, for yourself!

    It's simple. But let me first explain that feeling good does not necessarily mean feeling happy, although when one is happy, one is obviously feeling good. Hence, feeling good can simply mean being in a peaceful or Zen state, with no wandering, mugger-thoughts attacking us.

    Years ago, I noticed that to feel good you need a vehicle. The vehicle could be an ice-cream cone on a hot summer day, a job promotion, an exotic vacation, a quiet candlelight dinner, or simply a walk in the country... There are thousands of vehicles. So I decided to invest in the companies that manufacture them by creating a holding with just a mind and a body as my main tangible assets. Of course, I also had some intangible assets, the ability to learn and appreciate, my childlike curiosity being the greatest of these intangible assets.

    This was the beginning of ME & Co. On the organization chart are shown the profits that were generated from these categories: Family, Friends, Hobbies, Projects, Work and Leisure, etc. My subsidiaries are countless. Each time I walk into a restaurant in Paris, London, or Luxembourg, I'm visiting one of my subsidiaries, which is providing me a wonderful moment to feel good with the meal I'm about to appreciate.

    This goes for the movies I watch in my cinemas, the pleasure I derive from work, the fun I have with my cat, and the laughter I enjoy with friends. They all furnish me with opportunities to feel good. You don't need many assets to churn out excellent profits. Here's an illustration: A couple living in a magnificent hilltop villa but on the verge of divorce is not producing the same profits generated by a woman in love – and living in a tiny studio! A millionnaire can suffer heavy psychological and emotional losses, feeling really bad instead of good. A penniless student can reap immense profits, experiencing great pleasure upon receiving his or her first diploma.

    So create your organization chart with you as the head of YOU & Co. Draw up a list of your subsidiaries: Family / Friends / Hobbies / Projects / Work and Leisure.

    Make a list of your tangible assets: car, home (it provides warmth, shelter, and feelings of security), computer, pets, Google, past experiences, hands and nails to relieve an itch, eyes to peep, legs to roam... List your intangible assets: confidence, patience, openness, flexibility, humor... You can always work on your intangibles by reinforcing them. If you lack patience, for example, you may want to work on this.

    If one of your subsidiaries is performing poorly, don't worry about it too much, as you are reaping good feelings from the others. However, if it continues to flounder, you may decide to eliminate this subsidiary. If your job is not satisfactory, you may decide to put it in liquidation. Those who run poor companies are those who are generating losses in terms of bad feelings.

    To be a top CEO of YOU & Co., establish a short list of criteria. How would you like to run this company? What kinds of activities would bring a good ROI (return on investments)? Review your tangible and intangible assets and consolidate them.

    Once you've been running a successful YOU & Co., it's time to share it with others, thus generating more profits, that is... good feelings! May this year be YOUR year!

    May 22, 2010 at 6:16 am |
  14. John

    its much more of a priority to tackle things and people that much more unhappy than ourselves.. come on come on how is it right that a child in Uganda can die through starvation who is only 8 months old !! and we we become unhappy about a borderline descision about a refereeing descision of wether the whole ball crossed the line or it was hand ball...People are uncaring , blind 6 oblivious to people who are really really really suffering much more.. until this great great imbalnace is sorted out i cannot never be trully partially happy.. its ludicrously in correct and lets talk buisness Humans are the worst animals on earth....ime speechless... where do you start to explain this obvious mistake .. mistake number one....

    May 22, 2010 at 6:03 am |
  15. e

    Funny that no women were asked or featured in this particular blog...Happiness is an illusion, a tale we tell ourselves but I like what one of the persons said, we can have imperfect happiness and there is a difference between happiness and joy.

    May 22, 2010 at 5:57 am |
  16. tt

    If you ask people in a third world country what makes them happy, you will find many of them would say that having food to fill their stomach and having a roof over their head is what makes them happy. Anything else is luxury to them. They keep me going, even on my worst day.

    May 22, 2010 at 3:48 am |
  17. CEL

    Why do some people sound so smug? Maybe it is the lack of emotions in the text? I dont know, but I believe happiness is a choice. I know we all have challenges in life but how we choose to handle them and how we choose to treat others can make us happy. I don't think it fair to say there is one road to happiness. And as someone else pointed out: being content with what we have sure does not hurt either. You can sit around feeling sorry for yourself or enjoy all of lifes experiences. Its your choice.

    May 22, 2010 at 3:32 am |
  18. Peter Aquino

    There are two people that can instill happiness within you from the day you were born and that's your mom and dad. As long as they give you love, kindness and patience, you'll will be a happy and content baby. Your cup will be overunith with joy and happiness. When you grow-up and leave the nest, people will seek you out for your presence will bring joy and laughter. Happiness will be written all over your face.

    May 22, 2010 at 2:31 am |
    • Ray in Vegas

      Sounds great, Peter! So simple! But what if you aren't born so lucky? Ever think about that? Are orphans or people with an unhappy or otherwise loveless upbringing doomed to a life of unhappiness? Talk to me. I agree that happiness will generally come naturally to someone who is raised with love and kindness from the moment they are born ... but, alas .... most of us are not. What then?

      May 22, 2010 at 3:24 am |
  19. mrloo

    happiness is too broad, you can be happy with your career, with what you have accomplished and achieved in life, with your family, with friends, with love ones, with anything..... But we are all human beings, we face hurdles in life, some can easily shrug it off and some don't. Do we have to follow these people surveys? Why not follow what is in your heart and mind? I am happy with my life, with what I have accomplished, with my family and true friends, I am very happy with my partner in life (I mean VERY happy) but there are times that I felt unhappy with what my partner's thoughts. It's just me I gues..

    May 22, 2010 at 2:27 am |
  20. Hiten Patel

    Remember Making other people making happy is a best way to keep your self very happy.

    May 22, 2010 at 2:25 am |
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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.