What is happiness?


Kahneman i Deaton [1] argue that the emotional well-being increases with the logarithm of income, but only up to an annual salary of about $ 75,000. After that, the feeling of satisfaction is satiated and it is not worth it to earn more and to suffer, because your emotional state will be more or less the same. Translated into Croatian, we would need a monthly salary of about thirty thousand kunas. Not bad.

I’ve asked people today what the happiness is. Most of them answered – health. The most original answer was given by my research assistant who explained to me that happiness is the state of the mind, most often poorly correlated with reality and mostly grounded in some kind of illusion.

In Croatian, there are two different meanings of the word “happiness.” (CRO “sreća”). One is what English and American people would call “happiness”, and the other they would call “luck” or “fortune” – how we usually use this word, when we say , in literal translation to English “luck games” – (in English games of chance). This linguistic curiosity tells me that Croats consider happiness to be a matter of luck, like winning the lottery. It is not reached in any clear way, if you are lucky, then you might as well be happy.

Can there be luck among unwealthy? Of course there can, otherwise religions would make no sense. This means, money is a good precondition for happiness, but certainly not necessary one.

What is happiness really? Happiness is the awareness that we are happy, the awareness that we just exist, live. Happiness is a process and a path, not a goal; it is a process, not the end result. It is happiness to drive home and realize that we are not driving home but that we are enjoying the first bloom of the year – happiness is the blossom of Japanese cherry. It’s lucky to be (happy). What we enjoy means that we are in LIFE, that we exist, that we are happy.

In regards to Western criteria, one has to be a little silly for happiness. Fat Buddha who is laughing or holy Franjo who teaches birds.

Happiness is not being on the road to happiness because there is no road, it is not something achieved after we’ve done all needed for that. Happiness is like a dance, it is not walking to an ending. Dance has no goal, it is something we enjoy.

Happiness is one of those eastern words more important than all of the words, for which no one knows what exactly they mean. And no one tries to define them because through defining they would lose the meaning which is not reachable with other words. Chan. Tao. Happiness.

It is a happiness to feel every flicker of nature throughout the year, to be constantly in the soul of the world – such happiness has escaped Hamvas every year. To be with the saffron in the shade, a saffron which has preserved a  patch of snow, with apricot buds and cherry blossom, with June raspberries and currants and August blackberries. With quince. And the mussels in late November. With unpaved snow next to the mountain church, which rises at the top in late February and then melts inexorably. The sun calls for flowers again.



 [1] D. Kahneman and A. Deaton, High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (2010), >> www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1011492107.