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. pinkdot84

    Wow, that sounds depressing. 'I've never felt so released until I discovered that there was no god and that when we die, we're just dead'

    Depressing. I mean, that's great if it works for you. I personally don't like the idea of me just being a total goner once I peace out of this life. Besides, I'd rather go through life believing in God to find out He doesn't exist, than go through life not believing in God only to find out He does exist.

    But in general, I'm a pretty happy camper with where I stand.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      It is what you make of it. You can go through life, fearing death, hoping you did right by the god of choice. Or you can go through life, accepting death will come, and know you did right on your own.

      One thing about life. No one has made it out alive.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  2. Jed Rothwell

    If, as Mr. Chipra claims, "the most important thing to happiness is to make other people happy" then how are those other people supposed to be happy? Are they, in turn, going to devote their lives to making me happy? This is like the notion that we can get rich by taking in one-another's laundry.

    This also means that we cannot be happy unless someone else is miserable and needs our help.

    Instead of aiming for a world where we achieve happiness by sacrificing and working for others, I would prefer to aim for a world in which most people don't need help, because they make a good living and have good health and keep themselves happy. I would be a lot happier if practically no one anywhere needed my help.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  3. disappointed

    So, I have a question: for those who do not believe in God, does beating up on those who do make you happy?
    And for you christians, does criticizing and judging the atheists make you happy?

    I believe that we all need to search our own hearts and find our own paths to happiness, and that disrespecting others for their chosen path is hypocritical and cruel. In essence, you are trying to TAKE AWAY that person's happiness and that is WRONG, no matter how/what you believe. If one person wants to believe there is no God and to live their life the way they choose, that is their path to happiness and their business. If another person chooses to believe in God and live their life in that way, that is also their path to happiness and their business. None of us should be criticizing or disrespecting others for their beliefs.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      I will play verbal eye for an eye any day of the week. Christian, Jewish, Islamic, whatever. However, Jewish and Islamic people don't show up at my door to "save my soul".

      So will I "beat them up" with a few typed words on the internet. Sure. Their belief is strong and it is my job as a tool of satan to test their faith. If you believe in that stuff that is.

      Let it be known that I am not trying to hurt them. I am simply trying to get them to ask questions, and I am also asking them questions as to why they think the way they do.

      Don't you sometimes question yourself as to why you keep doing something? I do it frequently. And when I do, I often times find a better way to skin the cat.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • disappointed

      @TsirhCitnA your comments make little sense, just like your screen name.

      You (as well as a LOT of others here) are generalizing, putting all "Christians" in one big lump, and basing your opinion of the whole on the behavior of a few. I am a Christian, but I would never show up on your doorstep to "save your soul." Calling oneself a Christian does not make one a true Child of God. Faith is proven by works. Beliefs are supported with action.

      In no way will I ever judge or criticize you for your beliefs, nor will I ever try to get you to question your own beliefs, no matter how much I may personally disagree with them; in my opinion, that is wrong, because you are trying to make a person falter and fall, and in no way can this be considered "right." No matter how much you tell yourself you're just trying to get them to think it through, you're only doing it for yourself because you want to get them to question their own beliefs in the hopes that they "convert" to your way of thinking. You're not doing anyone any favors.

      And I've found, for myself, that the best way to "skin a cat" is with prayer and faith in MY God. It's the only true peace I have ever found (and yes, I have lived outside of Christianity as well).

      And finally, your comment "You can go through life, fearing death, hoping you did right by the god of choice. Or you can go through life, accepting death will come, and know you did right on your own. One thing about life. No one has made it out alive."
      How do you know what is right if you have nothing and no one guiding you? Just living for yourself and not caring about the afterlife seems like a pretty shallow and empty existence if you ask me. You can't take any of it with you. This is why the majority of people have some sort of faith, because there is so little to really live for on this earth that the belief that there is a higher Power and a life beyond this can at times be a person's only hope. We live in the land of "wealth" and "success" but what of those who are not so successful? Who live on the streets and depend on the kindness of others for their next meal because they have fallen on hard times? Or someone who has lost their children in some freak accident and cannot find peace in believing that they are just "dead." If a person like that has no hope for anything beyond this life, I can't imagine there would be much happiness for them at all. If that's what a person needs to feel good or have hope, then I repeat: WHO ARE YOU TO TRY TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THEM??? Or make them question their source of hope and happiness??

      This world and what it has to offer may be enough for you and others of your beliefs, but there are many more of us that hold out hope that there is more to life than living. That there is truly an eternal reward waiting for us at the end of this life.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  4. TsirhCitnA

    Why is it we consult religious leaders of primarily christian faith about what it takes to be happy? What about the others? Other religions do exist, you know.... Islam is a pretty big one.

    What about the non-theist take on happiness? Isn't anyone interested in that? Epstein was about as close to that as we had, but that's not much.

    Happiness comes from going to the door naked to meet with the bible thumper coming to sell his church to me.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • JD

      Just two out of the five interviewed were from the christian faith.... although Christianity is the most dominant religion on earth...

      and Islam...are you kidding me?they'd tell you to cover up, or blow buildings and kill people..thats what gets them to heaven anyway..

      May 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      You are correct. I did not read close enough. I would like to ask, how much have you studied of Islam on your own? I personally have no experience with it.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • Ice Man

      Hi Folks,

      I just wanted to pint out the Islamic position – which is little known. I have no intent to convert or convince anyone – just stating a position.

      Islam claims to be the latest installment, or upgrade, of a Universal belief system and way of life (religion if you will) – think of it as Adam's way of life.

      As such Islam not only recognizes Jesus, Abraham and Moses – but will also respect the Buddha, Ram, Krishna, Zoroaster, Native Indian beliefs etc. From the Islamic position it is entirely possible – in fact most probable – that these ancient religions were correct in their day, age and place.

      As can be seen – most perversion of religion and its belief happens gradually after the demise of it's Prophet or central figure.

      Muslims also believe that islam is not only the latest upgrade but also the final one between now and the end of humanity.

      At the heart of true Islam is the notion of Peace.

      May 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  5. JD

    Happiness is directionaly proportional to the amount of caffeine and sugar in your drink....

    a little bit of appreciation and love goes a long way too..

    May 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      I believe you meant to say "directly proportional".

      May 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  6. SKSD

    I think you can only be happy by doing all the right things in life.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  7. mike

    you may try to find jesus..but along that path you may never find yourself

    May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Dan

    I will not be buying any of Deepak's snake oil, thank you very much. What a joke. You make a mockery of yourselves by publishing this tabloid trash.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Indi

    Happiness is a feeling that only you can create; just like hate/love is a feeling, you can make them both last for as long as you want them to. It is a choice we make weather we want to be happy or not; like if you want to hate or love someone or something. You can choice to be happy either by giving to other or not giving and choose to be happy all day long – just try it. It is you in control of your mind and not your mind controlling you....try it...choose to be happy and you will.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  10. tintin

    "Happiness come from Magic rays of sunshine when you are feeling blue"
    -Bobby Boucher aka "The Waterboy"

    May 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  11. TsirhCitnA

    I find happiness in taking cylinder head(s) and turning it into a performing work of art.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  12. brooke

    i hate to break it to you jesus freaks, but i'm perfectly happy and i don't believe in god. i find happiness in nature, my pets, my friends, and virtually every experience i have, because that happiness is in ME and i'm projecting it outward. and don't respond with "god created all those things" because that's something you CHOOSE to believe, and i don't. you don't need god to be happy any more than you need magic beans or something. if you want to believe in god, that's fine, but don't think that that is where you get happiness. those two things are mutually exclusive, but if you want to bundle them into one you can and that's your choice, but that's not how happiness is packaged or manifests. and be careful about deluding yourself into equating a feeling of superiority with happiness.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
    • disappointed

      if a person gets happiness from believing in God, then who are you to judge them or take that away? Who made you the expert on where another person's happiness is "manifested" or comes from?

      May 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  13. Paras

    Road to Happiness – Unhappiness will chase us if we indulge in life!
    Root cause analysis of the Self
    1) Release me from the never-ending chain of desires
    So I may live in peace with Absolute contentment
    2) Free my mind from the darkness of lust
    And fill my soul with the light of divine Love
    3) Let me not live to eat & indulge in the unreal outer shelf
    Eat but to live & realize my Real Inner Self
    4) Let me not use words as missiles that injure
    Use them but gentle sparingly for comfort & cure
    5) Let me not forget my brittle dwelling of glass
    So throw not I stones wherever I glance
    6) Enlighten my mind with the knowledge of thee
    And releasing the weight that scholarship brings
    7) Detach my SELF from the bondage of my ego
    So differentiated am I no more
    8) Let good tidings of others forever bring joy unqualified
    And merge my soul with that of one & all
    9) Inspire in me the sense of surrender at thy Lotus Feet
    So sorrow not I see, but your dance to stay on my feet
    10) Let me not do any work for rewards & fame
    But let every act be dedicated to thy Name
    11) Help me eliminate the chatter in my mind
    So I stay connected with thy Name on my mind
    12) Help me to enrich & protect my subjective mind
    To filter & deflect the objective mind
    13) Help me to rid the fear so I am ever fearless
    So I am true to Your Will & nature as a free Will
    14) When you finally Grace me to thy shore
    Let me please come with my friends Galore

    May 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      By that logic.... don't work for money. Don't strive to better yourself. Do whatever anyone asks you, without question, and for no charge.

      Almost seems like a communism agenda.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • anne

      that is so hinduism. straight out of the sutras and bhagavad gita.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  14. Alwayshappy

    In the realism of life happiness is "what we make for ourselves". Happiness comes from having peace with yourself and being able to share that peace with others. Happiness is not given or taken, it is made from within by doing what makes you happy (Live life to its fullest and don't believe everything you are told)

    Happiness to All

    What makes our supposit religious leaders so smart? If these people find happiness in what they do then so be it, but not everyone finds happiness in the same ways.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • disappointed

      Well said!

      May 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  15. Petgrl

    Why is everyone so worried about being happy all the time? LOL!! It's this obsession that has us seeing drug commercials on t.v. every 60 seconds and has teenagers committing suicide at a rate like no other time in history. Sometimes you're happy and sometimes you're not. Everyone at some point will feel hurt, depressed, unloved, joyful, happy, sad, with hope and without hope. Instead of trying to feel happy all the time....how about we strive to feel useful? Not just for our own gain....but for everyone else. If only we worried about other people more than ourselves, maybe we'd all finally be happy!!! 🙂

    May 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  16. Jake

    The truth is, this question is impossible to answer comprehensively. You know what makes you happy; you know if you are happy, and if you are not happy. This is like asking, "What is love?" It is something that has to be experienced for yourself, to truly know what it is.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  17. BoohBah

    LOL: So much unhappiness in this happiness thread!

    May 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  18. Raj

    The fundamental thing to be happy is KNOW YOURSELF........When you are a seeker to know WHO YOU ARE.......happiness comes for FREE!

    May 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  19. olga Lustosa

    Being happy is not a question of opportunity. Its a question of choice!

    May 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  20. silence

    Has anyone experienced complete silence. I mean Full Stop silence. Not even a trickle of thought. ?

    May 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • jim

      I think most of the christians live that way. Their faith leaves little room for actual thought!

      May 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      Yes. I call that sleeping. Sometime after I go unconcious, but before deep sleep kicks in.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • brooke

      as a serious response to your question, no i haven't, but that's the goal! i'll keep trying, though i'm content if i never achieve it.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:19 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.