First of all, happiness does not come from luxuries, possessions, or career success. Luxuries can only bring short-term happiness because humans tend to lose interest to something they can easily have and use. Additionally, luxury is a subjective concept that can individuals to question the level of luxury in which they live. For example, my neighbor John Black was not happy even though he lived in what most people, including himself, would consider to be luxury. The same is true of possessions as they do not actually make people happy but only boost people’s greed. Researcher Sonya Luybomyrsky found that people who focus on possessions become addicted to them and fail to be happy. Focusing on items can cause a person to be greedy, envious, and unable to find contentment. Greed and jealousy can also be viewed through career successes as the drive to succeed above others can cause an individual to become isolated in their pursuits. Career success does not necessarily bring happiness because it places new burdens and challenges on a person but does not protect from a feeling of loneliness. To illustrate, executives in Fortune 500 corporations are often diagnosed with depression.
Even though they may have achieved success by the general measure, their job requirements, competitive stressors, and tunneled focus can prevent them from having an overall sense of happiness. Whether the individual is focusing on luxuries, possessions, or career successes, they cannot base their happiness on things that can be compared subjectively or taken away from them through the pursuits of others. The uncertainty of ownership in these measures creates a sense of fear and isolation that is not conducive of happiness. In this way, neither luxuries or possessions nor career success can make people happy.
Secondly, happiness does not derive from such qualities as kindness, the beauty of heart, and truth. While these qualities are desirable to a general society, they cannot be considered as representative of a truly happy individual. In other words, being kind, beautiful, and truthful does not mean that a person has achieved happiness nor can these qualities be said to bring about happiness to the individual. For instance, kind people tend to be the least happy because everyone wants to use them to achieve their personal aims. In this, the kindness does not bring happiness because the person is being used and the kindness does not represent happiness because the person is allowing this to fill a social need in an unhealthy manner. Similarly, the beauty of heart is associated more with suffering than with happiness, because people with this quality tend to be very compassionate and take the problems of others close to heart. In this, the beauty of heart does not represent happiness because the person has likely suffered and it does not bring about happiness because the individual magnifies their suffering through the problems of others. Also, truth does not bring happiness because often people dislike those who tell the truth and prefer double-faced and pleasant people. In this, being truthful does not represent or bring about happiness because it comes with the realization that others will be unhappy and the individual may be isolated. Whether the individual is striving to represent happiness or seeking happiness through these qualities, it is important to recognize that no single quality or action can represent or bring about happiness. The context of these qualities is more likely to express the social acceptance of the individual than the state of happiness. So, being kind, truthful, and beautiful in your heart does not mean being happy.
Now that happiness comes neither from material possessions nor from spiritual qualities, there is still something that it derives from – friendship and family. More specifically, happiness comes from the combination of both family and friends in one’s life. Happiness comes from friendship because makes a person feel appreciated. Friendship provides a sense of belonging and importance to others. For example, my close friend has supported me through several family crises and reminded me how dear I am to her. In this, I can feel happiness through a desired closeness that comes from a conscious choice to be a part of one another’s life. Happiness from family provides a constant state of belonging and a sense of self through a larger context. Happiness derives from family because family relationships make us explore love. As one sage said, “family is a school of love” (Unification.net, Section 3). This means that the very foundation of belonging to a family creates an understanding of what it means to love and to be loved. It presses the individual to find the good in others and to be able to recognize the good within themselves. This sense of self-love, along with the love for others, promotes internal happiness in the person. While each of these two elements, family and friends, add to the happiness of the individual, true happiness derives from having both at once. “A person is the happiest when he or she has both things: family and faithful friends,” as my grandmother said. She thought she was happy because she had both. Both elements provide the individual with love and support but differ in that friendship is optional and family is not. Friendship shows that a person has been chosen while family shows that a person is accepted no matter what. In this way, happiness stems from family and friends, especially as these two combine.