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. qball

    Happiness is resting in the knowledge that, while humanity, relative newcomers to the miraculous experience of being "sentient" shuffles about on this little bitty rock that's orbiting a relatively inconsequential star in the incomprehensibly vast expanse of the cosmos, the aliens who seeded this tiny blue dot have grown anemic to our constant spiritual/theological/philosophical dribble that ultimately inhibits the evolution of our species, and have maliciously conspired to reprogram us neurologically through syndicated reruns of "Family Guy"....

    Nah, just kidding. I don't really believe all that. Oddly enough though, the voices in my head keep telling me that as long as I'm breathing I shouldn't have any problem being really, really freakin' happy...something to ponder...

    May 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  2. Mark

    Happiness is knowing your life means something far more than temporary pleasures, taking up space, and turning food and other useful things into waste. See http://www.whymessedup.com for a highly logical and inspiring perspective.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  3. MySoulRefuge

    God and only God is source of all that's good/very good,...the joy of the Lord is my strength!
    Seek Him with all sincerity/your heart and you shall find Him. Seek Truth so you'll know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.
    Jesus Christ God incarnate said "I AM The Truth , The Way, and The Life".

    May 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  4. jakedog030

    My dog makes me happy.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • David

      u can go to jail for that

      May 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  5. liankhawla

    Sacrificing may still be better. But humility and contentment is a sure guarantee for real, LONG TERM happiness.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  6. stubbycat

    Now, the truth about happiness: It is solely a quality of the Spirit. The uplifted state of consciousness includes happiness as its natural state. The materialized consciousness which puts limits on every phase of its positive potential malpractices itself. Hence, is its own devil, its own lack of good. When Love ( the only "God and His idea") is accepted as the fundamental standard of existence and the power of consciousness is universally valued, enlightened precepts of Life will be recognized and humanity will have victories over its' self-generated suffering and the mystery of misery will be resolved. Consciousness is determinative. This is what Jesus was talking about.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      For all you people who keep saying that God is happiness, I have a question: is God happy?

      He doesn't seem happy. The whole Bible is filled with stories of his anger and wrath. Even the kinder, gentler New Testament is filled with stories of how the unrighteous will be mistreated in God's kingdom. This does not sound like a happy person to me.

      May 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  7. Carlos Arroyo


    May 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  8. Reza

    "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." Carl Sagan

    May 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  9. Rene

    Deepak Chopra is a fake. Why don't you show the video of him losing it when questioned by Michael Shermer? And in the same clip, a physicist totally refutes Chopra's babble about physics.

    Happiness is what con-artists like Chopra feel as they take your hard-earned money to their banks, laughing all the way.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • Andrew

      That's not hard to do, unless someone actually takes the time and effort to properly research physics, you don't know physics. People like Chopra can then take concepts in physics or experiments like the Double Slit Experiment and turn it into something in no way resembling the actual quantum system. The worst part is, unless you really do study the physics, it's very easy to get tricked into believing pseudo-scientific nonsense. What the Bleep Do We Know was rather successful, but a physicist's utter nightmare. The problem comes with people trying to intuitively work out what physicists say in layman terms... but often these systems are too complex to actually be able to describe accurately in laymen terms. One can probably come up with a lot of intuitive reasons why they'd say "oh it's obvious why antimatter would exist" but unless you can work out Dirac's equation, it really isn't obvious. Physics isn't easy, nor is it intuitive, it requires work, but people like Chopra are more than happy to take advantage of people's ignorance on the subject.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • Andrew

      Note, a large key to knowing if someone says pseudo-scientific nonsense is if they ever talk of 'energy'. Often I'll see new age proponents talking of some ambiguous "energy", as though "energy" is a substance. But if they're trying to talk about anything remotely ground in reality, it's not, it's a conserved property of particles, much like "spin" or quark flavor. But those terms aren't nearly as well known, and so we hear them far less often. I rather like David Griffiths' line about it his Introduction to Elementary Particles textbook...
      [when describing the decay of a stationary pion into two gamma particles (photons)] "here, rest energy was converted into kinetic energy (or, in the absurd language of the popular press, infuriating to anyone with the slightest respect for dimensional consistency, 'mass was converted into energy'.)

      May 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  10. SR

    Its a decision u make n your mind. No matter what.."I'm going to be happy." Believing in God and His love is the first step. Actually, I don't understand how not believing n God can make any1 happy. I mean to say that THIS life is all there is, is actually sad.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    Ignorance is bliss. That's what makes people happy. Ignorance of the fact that they're all going to die at some point, that when you do, or how you do, has little to do with whether you're a moral person or not, and that when you die ... that's it. There is no paradise in the clouds, no virgins awaiting you.

    The fairy tale of god(s), or any other religion's silly nonsense, is just about lying to people, to make them feel good about themselves.

    That's all it is.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  12. anne

    I believe in hinduism and yoga. to me ultimate happiness is when you attain total equanimity, when you do not attach your mind to both joy and sorrow. also, be kind to people and yourself, forgive and get rid of your ego. be in the moment and aware of your actions. anxiety comes when you think of the past or future. better bring your mind (awareness) in the moment and that brings joy. that is why is important to watch your breath as that brings your mind into the moment. I also am most happy when I understand myself in all situations. and that comes with being aware of your mind.
    mind is a tricky thing that likes to create thoughts all the time. that is why we live in maya (illusion) all the time. your mind is your own enemy, I learn that in a vipassana meditation retreat.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  13. c everett

    I am sure as one's jet hurtles out of control and wings over into a 30,000 foot dive....all of these Godless types will for one become believers as they call out God 's name in theri last moments. Yup..we all become believers..one way or other.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Andrew

      Really now? Why thank you for telling me what my beliefs will be when I die. Personally though, I highly doubt it. Sure, the idea of god would be a nice comfortable thing when I'm about to die, the whole "I don't want to just be in a state of nothingness", but I'm really not capable of believing in things just because it'd be a nice thing if it were true. I kinda need evidence, and god is decidedly lacking in it.

      So enjoy asserting that all us atheists will some day follow your god, enjoy your arrogant proclamation, but realize it's probably no more true than the god you put so much faith in.

      May 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • David

      they say there are no atheists in a foxhole

      May 21, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
  14. Yaquub

    What makes people happy is the remembrance of our Creator. Our job in this world is to worship our Creator and do good deeds. After we die, there is paradise and hell. Good people who believed in the Oneness of God and believed in the Prophets of God and did good things for the sake of God are rewarded Paradise. Bad people who disbelieved in God and worked for the sake of this world, they will get what they worked for in this world and then they will rot in hell fire forever. These people will be tortured and burnt to the extent that they will neither live nor die. This is because God has already warned us about our reality. Just like there are laws of nature, there are laws set by God for human beings to attain His mercy and enter Paradise forever. Now if you go around mocking and making fun of the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him), it simply shows your arrogance and lack of sincerity. Such people will not understand with dialogue or debate, they need to be punished severely. Teach your children good things – to be respectful to Islam, because Islam is the truth. Don't waste your life running after the glitters of this world, because this is a short life and there is a long journey ahead.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Adam Rich

      Yaquub, I apologize on the behalf of the western world. Majority of the people are peace loving people here. Although there are nut jobs who incite hatred and violence by drawing cartoons and such, but please forgive us all. You seem like a knowledgeable person. I do love my children and my family and I started crying when you asked us to think about our families. I know for sure that Christianity is false. I know Judaism enough to know that it is false as well. But I will now definitely study Islam. Thank you and please pray that all men go to heaven.

      May 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
    • Suleiman


      Well said brother. Islam is the only religion that establishes our connection with our Lord. Pray that Islam takes over the planet and then finally we can have justice and peace for all, and not just for the select few rich and famous individuals who control the world. In reality, these enemies of humanity that are destroying our world – spiritually, environmentally, socially, financially etc. don't have peace of mind either. They are guilty and frustrated.

      May 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  15. Fran

    Mr. Chopra is not a faith healer or spiritual leader or anything close to religious/spiritual. That sly smile of his, with that coy turn of the head. You can't even attend his spa unless you are rich. Certainly the poor and middle class can't afford it. And he lives in a huge home in La Jolla and drives sports cars. But people have been following fakes for for thousands of years.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  16. Valencia

    Any happiness which you experience is only temporary and it decreases after a while. True happiness should be permanent and ever increasing bliss; which is found only when you experince God. Because God is happiness Himself.
    Without the presence of the spirit of God in you, you are nothing but dust.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
    • anne

      these are some big words. only a few lucky ones experience God and can be happy all the time.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Andrew

      I rather like the idea of being "nothing but dust". After 13.7 billion years the quarks and leptons in my body have formed a creature that is temporarily cognizant of the universe, that can actually piece together "what happened". I am the result of a profoundly lucky sequence of events, I'm alive despite the trillions upon trillions of other creatures who won't even have the chance to gain that temporary cognizance. I am lucky. I am alive. I don't need a god to give my life meaning, I can give my own life meaning and happiness. I look out to the stars and realize how small I am, but am still a part of such a vast and complex universe. I don't need some idea of "god" to make that special. I don't need a god to see the beauty in staring at the Milky Way on a dark night in the middle of nowhere. I don't need a god to marvel in the daunting beauty of Andromeda, knowing that it's eight times larger than the moon through a telescope despite being two million lightyears away.

      I object to the notion of happiness only coming through god, as though some "eternal happiness" is the goal. I personally think that cheapens the notion of happiness. My value, my joy, my life is augmented not by the fact that I'll live on forever, but by the fact that I won't. By the fact that I am a transient being who by chance and luck got to stare back at the universe. I'm lucky, and I get to enjoy the majesty of the cosmos... I don't need god to make that special, I don't need god to grant me happiness to see the beauty of life, I am content with the natural universe itself.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  17. Troll

    I'm a trollin'

    May 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • NC

      Whatever makes you happy...

      May 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  18. Wolfgang

    It is up to you, to be happy or not. Think about it, you decide what makes you happy. Some people are happy on a rainy day and some people are happy on a sunny day. It is your decision and your belief, that material possessions will make you happy. Nothing on earths, can make you truly happy, only you can. Looking for the good, in any given situation can make you feel happy. It is your decision, to look for the good and happiness in this world.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  19. Tracy

    Happiness comes from accepting and loving yourself for who you are at this moment and every moment to come. When you love yourself then you have healthy relationships with others and you don’t need materialistic things to prove yourself how great you are because you already know. You also don’t need others approval or opinions to validate who you are. Happiness comes from within. So go home it’s Friday and celebrate all your quirks, bad habits, but remember...dam… you’re awesome! LMAO!

    May 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  20. José de Oliveira Filho

    To be a happy person it is enough to be of good with you yourselves.

    May 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
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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.