Happiness is a vector, not a state

Rich and unhappy. Poor and unhappy. Great marriage and still unhappy. Famous, on drugs and depressed. Bored to death while successful.

In the slum and energetic. In the jungle and happy. No money, no job, new girlfriend and erupting with happiness.

What’s going on?

Happiness is a vector (def. #1), not a state (def. #3).

Happiness doesn’t seem to be a matter of what you have or where you are at, but rather where you are heading. You can be depressed or happy whether you are poor or rich, famous or a nobody. The level where you are at does not determine your happiness. It is instead determined by the amount of progress toward a goal that you have set. And apparently it matters less what the goal is. The goal may be small or large in an absolute sense – what matters is how much you value that goal.

I have noticed in my own life that whenever I feel down, I simply pull myself up to complete some tasks – any tasks – and my mood is resurged. And the more the tasks is forwarding an important goal (for me), the more my mood rebounds.

All this is the reason why you hear talks about “the journey is the goal”. Because if the the goal is happiness, then progress toward a goal you set determines the happiness you gain.

Reaching a goal makes you happy for a short while. At that time it is important to set a new goal and milk it for all the happiness you can get by progressing toward it. Enjoy the road, the trip, the quest.

26 thoughts on “Happiness is a vector, not a state

  1. Hmm… don’t quite agree. I feel happiness is the “phenonmenon” def 1 (An observable fact or occurrence or a kind of observable fact or occurrence.)

    The movement along the vector toward a desirable end point brings about the phenomena(on) of “happiness.”

    Fully agree it is a good thing but I don’t think vector encompasses all of its goodness.

    1. I offer here a description of the root cause of happiness as I see it – not a full explanation of how it feels, etc. 🙂

      1. Ahh – as a root cause I can concur. The prime mover idea applied to happiness. No vector and no happiness. 🙂

  2. Isene, glad you offered the definitions, really helped a lot. I had lots of good thoughts about this while reading and it’s right up my alley so to speak. Will be back later for the night owl is a hoot-en.

  3. Yes. Happiness is a vector and serenity of beingness is a ‘state’. The instant I had finished your post I became conscious of the clear-cut difference.
    I have become aware of eternal presence. The being. The goal and the reaching out and moving towards it – this I would call the illusion, the dream, the mind. Thus it
    looks now that happiness ‘belongs’ to the mind. It is interesting to observe the illusion and the journey towards reaching it. ME creating an illusion out of ME to reach ME in the end. Geir….thank you. I haven’t seen it this clearly so far. It again
    has started something to be more aware of, as is the case with each post you write.
    I’m going to write about my perception again as it is expanding and progressing.
    Geir…awe-some!

    1. Well, and I draw my own realization from yours. What Geir wrote is nice, but it felt to me like Hubbard on happiness rewritten. These discussions are wonderful, aren’t they?

          1. I know (that definition has more focus on struggle and barriers than the fact of progress). But; How come “The Way to Happiness” when Happiness is The Way? 😉

  4. I once read that happiness is tightly tied with self determinism –the more self determined one is, the happier. But self determinism along all dynamics. That was among the final blows my realtively new SCNist valence took. I was being told over and over how I would be happy if I followed the group, and from that point on I knew -LRH certified- that they didn’t know what they were saying. Soon after, I broke that group case agreement and took my own path. I didn’t care to explain to anyone inside nor out the COS that I was doing the right thing for me, so I got detested. I played my role as the heroic single one who went against the many oppressive ones, and I won. It made me very happy. At least I saved my @rse from total self denial. But from then on, I decided I should do the same with the rest of the dynamics too. That’s some real challenge! And indeed, to achieve something I really want on dynamics beyond the first, brings about even greater happiness. It seems that the greater the challenge, the greater the happiness.

    1. I so much agree with what Geir said about money etc. I’m most of the time average or low on cash. I could make some more, but I’m so disintered in money making games that I’ve known. I can sit down with nothing and do something trivial or nothing and be very happy about it. If I thought that I needed this and that to be happy, I guess I wouldn’t be able to do that.

      1. There is effort in a goal, isn’t there? A practical thing can be done effortlessly, can’t it? Even without any purpose (intention), isn’t it so? And yet things ‘get done’….

    1. Marianne – I would say that person without goal/reason could be contented. Not nearly as fulfilling as happiness. Just my two pieces of copper (my 2 cents of input).

    2. It can sure be, with many examples. I can try one: for instance, imagine you work in a hospital. You can have a daily routine, nothing spectacular in your life, but you’re 100% healthy. Seeing so many suffering around every day your own health can make you happy. Nothing selfish here, just look in the mirror and say: “Thank God for protecting me”. And sun is already up on your road 🙂

  5. Finally made it back for a quickie. My greatest happiness is when I’m producing something or doing a task and completing it. The doing-ness gives me great pleasure and the rewards are secondary.

  6. For many people can be very useful in defining the opposite of happiness. Unhappiness is defined as the lack of action in a positive direction towards a goal, and the accumulation of incoherent actions for the direction of the target.

    Given this definition of happiness, I see that there is a correlation in all aspects with the properties of a vector. At first glance I consider two properties:

    A. That a vector can be aberrative when it loses its sense (to its goal), is altered or modified and is no longer a straight line.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Vector_AB_from_A_to_B.svg

    B. That a vector includes successive line segments between real points and that they can be small goals within a larger goal, such as fractal elements.
    http://www.pawean.com/MVM/images/recta_real% 20and% 20vector% 20a.png

    Does happiness lie in integration of the small things in life? The small and fractal segments that we get on the ride, are the journey to enjoy. Persist in a goal as a fixed target of the journey when our direction has been altered (enriched) also by the transformers changes of the experiences that we have, is to persist in a aberrated direction, which can no longer be what it was. People is doing, changing, and growing, and just keeps doing it on the endless road.

    On the journey there is everything, the journey is everything, and life is a journey.

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