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happiness vs. well-being

Sometimes I think we place too much emphasis on "happiness". What does it mean to be happy, really? The Merriam-Webster definition of 'happy' is "feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life". Hmmm. Are we really spending our time, energy, and money on a feeling that's transitory, nearly impossible to sustain?

What makes you or me happy, anyway? Think about that for a moment. Is it a paycheck? A satisfying sexual experience? A delicious meal? Achieving a goal? Our child's good behavior?

Are we raising generations of happy-seekers, people who consistently say, "I just want to be happy". Well, don't we all?

"Well-being" may be a better, more realistic term than "happiness". Striving for positive well-being doesn't mean we get everything we want, or that our every impulsive whim is met. It means we have relief from pain, loneliness, or fear. It means we are living in such a way as to increase our physical, mental, emotional, and relational health.

One of the side effects of seeking happiness may be pain caused to another human being. "My happiness" or "your happiness" can, and often does, hurt another person. But the interesting thing about seeking well-being is that we must consider the consequences of our actions. Our positive well-being requires that we consider the people around us, because we understand how our choices affect others, and our well-being is increased by the well-being of others. That is the interconnectedness of all life.

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