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. Hiram Flektarnsmock

    What about Almond Joy? No one has expressed any happiness from Almond Joy.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  2. elidude

    As a person who is a devoted follower of Jesus, I continue to be amazed that CNN and other media outlets turn to people such as Falwell (son of Jerry?) as if they represent the broad, mainstream of Christianity. I don't love a God who sent his son to DIE for me. I love a God who loved me enough to come and LIVE with me (humanity), and continues to do so through God's spirit. Jesus' death was NOT God's will; it wasn't to WASH away sins (ancient sacrificial idea of atonement), it was to demonstrate how much God LOVES us. Jeez. And Joel? God has a plan for us? So when a drunk driver hits a kid, that's God's plan for that kid. Don't get me started.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  3. Michael Wong

    It's interesting how the two Christians in this group said that happiness comes from sharing their beliefs: they said something which only applies to Christians, and not to everyone else.

    The other three, however (one New Ager, one humanist, one Jew) said things which apply to everyone. This, in a nutshell, is why I dislike Christianity. Everything they say is another sales pitch. Someone died? Sales pitch! Want to find happiness? Sales pitch! Confused? Sales pitch! Don't understand the universe? Sales pitch! Depressed? Sales pitch!

    May 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • disappointed

      You are basing your entire opinion of "Christianity" off of your interpretation of only TWO of such self-proclaimed Christians?? That seems pretty narrow minded to me. There will always be people who claim to be something, but yet really are not, and those unfortunate souls are the ones who create a bad image for the rest of that "group." That's like saying every black (or mexican/indian/white etc) person is bad because you have a couple of them in your neighborhood that have done some bad things. It's essentially Racism, but toward religion instead. Maybe they need to make that illegal too!

      May 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
    • Drew

      I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I hope you will me. It is not that I care, really, about an article. It is that there is, in my perspective, a hit job being perpetrated on the Catholic church. No positive coverage, and lots of negative. Many of the greatest philosophers in western civilization–St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Kant. Pascal, to name a few–were Catholics. Luther died a Catholic. No great philosophers as far as I am aware are from the Chopra variety. I do think there is value in collected human knowledge, and to disregard the most important faith in the world, or one of them, in favor of a politically expedient view of Christianity, is embarrassing.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  4. R

    few kids were going out to watch a movie. They saw a sage looking for something outside his home. Kids asked saint what he is looking for and if they can help. When kids asked where this thing was before. Saint reply that thing was actually some where in home for sure, but as it is dark inside, he is looking for it outside. Kids laughed, so saint asked them where they are going. Kids replied "Movies". Saint said you are doing what I am doing right now....
    For me, I find happiness in Meditation and breathing exercise. I say worth trying

    May 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  5. JC

    I might suggest some of you read a book called "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert. Not sure I agree with everything he says, but he makes some very interesting points.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  6. Mary

    I agree that happiness comes from believing in something. Believing in a higher power, yourself, or someone brings happiness. There is a really good website that inspires me: http://www.thechristianista.com

    May 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  7. Nancy

    Definitely don't need religion/god to be happy. The Catholic Church is the largest employer of pedophiles in the world.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  8. reflections

    read Risale-i Nur by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi...it'll change your life for the better, without question

    May 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  9. me

    I'm glad they edited Deepak Chopra's usual quantum theory "woo woo" horse pucky that he spouts off so often. Living in a biblical universe would be damn boring! What a bad joke, to life your entire life praying and wishing for an afterlife of groveling at the feet of some foolish eternal creator without a cause, who decided to make "man" just to test "him" because woman failed the test from the get-go. Religion is so idiotic! Isn't it astounding how delusional even the most moderate religious views are? I have faith, yes, but it entails humankind growing up and away from bronze aged idiocy.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Adam

    You might wanna think about taking Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • Dhakir

      Your reasons for believing in the bible can be applied to the Quran too, even better. For one thing, the Quran has remained unchanged, word for word, letter for letter, from the time of Muhammad to the present, and will remain so to the end of time, inspite of all the efforts to corrupt it. The same cannot be said about the bible.

      May 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  11. dhakir

    to **Wondering**
    You seem well versed. What you quoted is all authentic. Maybe what you need is the right understanding of the Hadith and Quranic verses you mentioned.
    Before you accept Islam, you are asked to be careful. By accepting the faith, you become a citizen of the Islamic Nation. Accept only if you are fully satisfied, for there is no denouncing openly. Doing so is tantamount to treason, and you are considered a defector, a crime punishable by death. Hence the Hadith.
    Regarding the verse about killing idolators etc, that applies in a state of war, and only then. If you read more, there are so many other verses that explicitly forbid killing idolators and non-believers. Islam builds a nation of Muslims, who have a duty to spread the Word at all cost. Any force that attempts to prevent this is to be dealt with by force, and only then does Islam permit fighting. The sword is never used to force the faith upon people, only to pave way for peaceful preaching.
    As for taking Jews and Christians as friends, I wish muslims of today heed the verse that forbids it. The verse has been proven true in so many ways. No scrutiny is needed to see how much animosity emanates from them towards muslims. So, a muslim nation does great injustice to its people by taking Jews and Christians as friends and protectors, as nothing positive has ever come to muslims from such relationships.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • Adam

      I choose to believe in the Bible because it has good evidence to believe in it. Old testament prophecies: when and where Jesus would be born, how he'd die before crucifixion was even ever practiced by the Romans, etc. There is tons of good evidence to believe in it.

      May 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  12. TsirhCitnA


    Why not Zeus, Ra, Allah, or any of the other gods? Why is it the god you believe in that is the only one? What makes you so absolutely, unquestionably certain, that the god you "chose" to believe in is the one and only path to salvation?

    May 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • islander

      Excellent point Tsir. I dont pretend to know why Scott is a Xian vs. a Muslim, Buddhist etc. but I bet it has a lot to do with 1. who his parents were 2.) where he was born. Self righteous and arrogant, Xians. dont realize that in the vast majority of cases people have their beliefs due simply to an accident of birth, and not because their faith is actually superior to any other belief system. If Scott were born in a Calcutta slum, he'd be a Hindu or a Sikh. And so what??

      I dont want Xians to give up their beliefs but I hope that in between spouting off about the "one true god" they'd realize that almost every major tenet they believe in is lifted directly from faiths that predated Christianity by hundreds or thousands of years. Mithra, Horace, Ra, Helios, the concept of virgin birth, Easter (pagan celebration or Passover depending on who you talk to) and on and on. Christianity is derivative in the extreme, which by itself isnt bad unless you're claiming it has some special status above other faiths.

      As a former Christian, I know that living inside your faith is NOT the way to be happy. To be happy you have to find work you love, find a woman you love, find a way to use your talents to help others, and generally strive to not be a self-righteous ass.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  13. Oh My

    Oh My! All of this arguing is making me very unhappy........

    May 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  14. Scott

    One thing to point out first: the views of Deepak Chopra are not based on Biblical Christianity – please do not confuse the two – they are subtly, but critically different.

    With that said, I would point out that Biblically speaking, there is only one way to salvation and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. While eternal life in Christ trumps anything that could be considered the "best" of what's here on earth, God never once promises that the Christian walk will be without trials. So rather than looking for what makes me happy or what "feels good", I trust that God has my best interest at heart, He won't give me anything more than I can handle, and that everything I do in my life here on earth is preparing me for the next (eternity with Christ).

    So no, there aren't multiple paths to salvation. If we take God at His Word, the only way to experience God's grace is by accepting His gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ (God incarnate). If we deny Christ, we deny the One who sent him – we deny God and we will be destined to spend eternity apart from God – just as in fact Satan will.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  15. pinkdot84

    Lalala, while I personally agree with what you said, I don't know if this is the forum to preach without explanation. For someone who does not believe or has no introduction to the faith, it's not going to make a lot of sense and is a bunch of rambling. I mean, for someone who doesn't believe, what's the motivation in doing any of what you just said?

    May 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  16. opAZ

    money talks people walk.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  17. kj

    No Muslim opinion?

    May 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • dhakir

      Plenty of muslim opinion. Just read my comments and replies to other comments.

      May 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  18. lalala

    Try Jesus Christ and He will fill you with Joy unspeakable. He is the only source of a happy and joyful life. Doing what he says perfects our joy. Try Him and you will find Him faithful in His words.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • D Nelson

      Tried it – didn't work.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
    • whatever

      How do you know that JC is the only source of a happy and joyful life. How stoned are you? Most importantly how brainwashed are you? Do you know that Christians(like you) and Muslims are the only two kinds of people in the world that say their god is the only god? How is that rational to you? What if some innocent person never heard of JC? According to you he will never have happiness? What if I prove you wrong by showing a completely wonderful awesome happy person that never heard of JC. What an idiot, you are... Muslims and Chrisians set out to destroy the whole world with their BS. No wonder these two religions are related.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • TsirhCitnA

      I am happy to say, though sorry to disagree with you, that I had never been happier than the day I decided I was not going to force myself to believe in something when I didn't truly believe in it. A great weight was lifted, and I was no longer forced to "live the good life" I was told.

      The difference? I don't pretend to believe in that which I don't. I get to sleep in on the weekend. My money isn't donated to a church where the leaders of said church can't even live by the word of their god.

      I am wealthier, more well rested, and true to myself. I'm happy with that. Heck, take the money out of the picture but it doesn't change the outcome of happiness.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Blissful

      I tried JC and it did work.......been working for a lot of years. Of course that's cause I put my faith in Christ and the finished work He did on the cross, not on a list of rules that some church gave me. Read your Bible, there's freedom in Christ not rules and regulations. Faith in Christ and going to church are two different animals...

      May 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Archangel

      Amen! This is what I don't like about some people who self-proclaim themselves as Christians.

      They materialize any internal objectivity, twist it and for some reason have no credibility because unfortunately, what you practice also speaks for what you say. I'm a Catholic, and a proud one. And I made mistakes, I have sinned but I know my God will always remind me that no matter what happens in life, my courage, determination and concepst is who I am now. I talk the talk and boy, do I walk that slick walk.

      Admit it Christians. You're a phony and a disgrace to other Chrisitians who are as much holy than you.

      May 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • Archangel

      @whatever You're obviously dumb.

      So go take your evolutionary stance, your right to kill and murder mammals, and post a video on Youtube how dumb you are(I did it) and go showcase what the REAL world is about. After all, isn't that what you believe? Don't you?

      So when a murder happens and a killin occurs, guess what? Is the REAL world because we are all animals.

      May 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  19. Dr Jordan

    Happiness is a choice we make in every moment. Feelings are a byproduct of thoughts. To be more aware of your thoughts is to be more able to choose happiness. A reziliant personality sytle is what we would call it in psychology. I persons who has a style of thinking that looks at the glass as half full, or looks for solutions. in spiritual terms a person who comes from a faith persective would be able to maintain a happy outlook. This faith can be in just about anything including yourself, as long as you have it.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • jkinorlando

      very nicely said.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bella

      Beautiful Dr Jordan!!!

      I wish more people could think this way, We choose happiness from the moment we open our eyes in the morning. Thank you, thank you 🙂 I love to bring happiness to the wholw world.

      Love Bella

      May 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  20. jkinorlando

    '...meaning and purpose in life. It's in your heart and soul and can come from helping others.' Perfectly said without the presumption that anyone(no mention of god here) else but yourself is responsible for your happiness.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:39 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.