International Viewpoints (IVy), Issue 33 - August 1997

Another Look at Basics-#14

On Happiness
by Frank Gordon, USA

A High School student once told a teacher who challenged him that what he was doing was "the pursuit of happiness," and that this was his Constitutional right. The teacher replied that this was not in the U.S. Constitution.

Actually, the "pursuit of happiness" was originally in the Declaration of Independence, and this concept was not transferred to the U.S. Federal Constitution. However, although neither the teacher nor student apparently knew this, it was placed in the Preamble of the State of Maine Constitution. And since this argument took place in a Maine school, it would have applied.

The pursuit of happiness in law

There is a legal definition of the pursuit of happiness, given in Black's Law Dictionary:

The Pursuit of Happiness, in constitutional law includes ... (Note: among other rights)... the right to follow one's individual preference in the choice of an occupation and the application of his energies...

Hubbard's view of happiness

Hubbard's early definition of happiness in DMSMH parallels this view: "Happiness is the overcoming of not unknown obstacles toward a known goal and, transiently, the contemplation of or indulgence in pleasure." In the somewhat later Dn. Axiom 190, he states: "Happiness consists in the act of bringing alignment into hitherto resisting plus or minus randomity. Neither the act or action of attaining survival, nor the accomplishment of this act itself, brings about happiness."

The first part of this could be used as a definition for what one is doing in any regular occupation, i.e., overcoming not unknown obstacles toward a known goal; as in shoe-making, farming, surgery, etc.

Happiness as goal-directed

Thus, happiness is primarily goal-directed on-going causative action and only secondarily a form of pleasure. This implies that in addition to recalling pleasure moments in which I felt all cuddlely-wuddlely, I might also recall overcoming the difficulties of mountain climbing or attempting to invent an instant coffee dispenser.

In Modern Management Technology Defined 1976, Ron includes a number of definitions:


1. is not itself an emotion. It is a word which states a condition, and the anatomy of that condition is interest (note:attention with intention). Happiness, you could say, is the overcoming of not unknowable obstacles toward a known goal. <8th ACC lecture, 1954>

2. comes from self-determinism, production and pride. Happiness is power and power is being able to do what one is doing when one is doing it. (HCO PL 3 Apr 72).

Another definition is given by Herbert Spencer in his Social Statics 1851, p.5: "Happiness signifies a gratified state of the faculties (Note: one's abilities). The gratification of a faculty is produced by its have complete felicity is to have all the faculties exerted in the ratio of their several developments; and such an ideal arrangement of circumstances calculated to secure this constitutes the standard of greatest happiness;"

This might be summarized as: happiness is the satisfying and graceful flow of one's abilities in action.

G.I. Gurdjieff expresses something very similar to happiness in his "Satisfaction-of-self arising from the resourceful attainment of one's set aim in the cognizance of a clear conscience." <Meetings with Remarkable Men, Dutton, N.Y., 1974, p.302.> A similar result might be expected from following the practical advice given in Hubbard's pamphlet The Way to Happiness <Bridge Publications 1984>.

And Augustus Strong points to something even greater than happiness when he states: "Happiness (hap, happen) is grounded in circumstances; blessedness, in character." <Systematic Theology, 1907, p.265.>

I have not found a satisfying definition for blessedness, but it is very likely manifested in the concepts of charisma (spiritual power, e.g., to heal), and the darshan of a holy person whose mere presence is uplifting. Here Hubbard's view applies: when sufficient theta is present, entheta disappears.

I've heard two stories which might illustrate this. One is of a Rabbi in Jerusalem, who whenever he appeared, would produce tears of joy in the viewers. The other is of a man who was to be arrested by the Gestapo in the middle of the night. They took one look at him, then turned and left.

Exploring Happiness

Using these definitions as a guide, one can explore related concepts, such as: enthusiasm, exuberance, exhileration, jubilation, joy, ecstasy, bliss, blessedness, and serene contentment.

But the above are often evanescent <evanescent: gradually disappearing.> peak experiences, and happiness to me is more of a kind of everyday life; self-energizing, productive and satisfying.

By self-energizing, I mean that even though effort and energy are expended, as in a work situation, one ends up with more energy than one started with. For example, when just learning to drive and doing so for several hours, I expected to end up feeling tired; and was surprised to feel refreshed. Apparently, there was an optimum balance in the situation between the challenges I faced and my budding skills.

As another example, I knew three men on the same job. Two of them had to go to a bar when they finished work to "unwind." I asked the third man about his experiences on the job, and he told me that he had found a way to do his job, so that he always felt better when he was done working than he felt when he began. I think that man had found an effective way to pursue happiness.

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