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What is the Objectivist point of view on this quote regarding happiness?

Happiness is a mood. It’s a condition, it’s not a destination. It’s like being tired or hungry — it’s not permanent, It comes and goes and that’s ok. And I think if people thought about it that way, they’d find happiness a lot more often.

a quote taken from the series One Tree Hill

asked Jan 05 '11 at 06:31

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edited Jan 05 '11 at 09:56

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Greg Perkins ♦♦

It is true that happiness is a condition obtained, like all other values, by ongoing effort. There is no "game over, I win" in life; in other words, there is no point when one can give up pursuing values and live a blissful, carefree existence thereafter.

While this fact means that happiness can come and go, it would be wrong to say that happiness is necessarily impermanent or fleeting. That view comes from the malevolent-universe premise of both the religionists and modern cynics. The Objectivist view is that long-term happiness can be maintained (though not guaranteed) if one pursues rational values by rational means.

answered Jan 05 '11 at 10:59

Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Andrew Dalton ♦

It is superficial to describe happiness as a mood. Cheerfulness is a mood. Happiness is akin to moral and economic and social health. One's health is both a goal and an on-going condition. Happiness is the emotional reflection of one's success in living, and since living is ongoing, but also requires continuous support, it is both a condition and a goal.

Morality is independent of circumstances in that one can act morally but circumstances still yield harmful or disappointing results. Living is successful, Aristotle noted, only if the individual is wise and the world is propitious.

Obviously, we speak of being happy about specific things, happy about our income, but not the work environment, for example. When we speak of happiness per se we mean the global, personal evaluation. So, what does it take to be happy? It takes two kinds of things. It takes that you are active and moral in your actions, which is the same thing as being purposeful and reasoning, and also that you are getting results.

Now, these two things are typically closely related. Life is workable, and if you go about it in the right fashion, you will usually and mostly succeed in your existential efforts. But it is also possible for the two of them to occur in stark contrast, as with Roark's working in a quarry, or Hugh Akston's working as a cook. Still, even in these situations, the tasks undertaken are done with an intelligence and work ethic that makes them, on their own scale, successful. If Hugh Akston washes a dish, it gets clean. Nonetheless, Akston's perfection as a short-order cook cannot give him as much satisfaction, and thus contribute to his overall happiness, as his resolving a philosophical problem. So the intensity of happiness a person is capable of depends on the scope of his worldly purposes and goals.

Or, a person may hold admirable values and work hard, but find himself isolated socially, and lacking in psychological visibility of his true person. That is a limit on his happiness.

The point of this answer is that a person's efforts to live and live well guarantee a certain minimum of happiness, but that what living IS is more than just trying.

I don't know the program, One Tree Hill, but the attitude of the quote is fatalistic, if not nihilistic. The fatalism shows in the recommendation to be passive about happiness, give up on having it constantly, admit it just comes and goes. The nihilistic content comes in dismissing the value of happiness as being worth the effort, and shows particularly in calling happiness a mood.

answered Jan 05 '11 at 13:53

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Mindy Newton ♦

edited Jan 05 '11 at 14:11

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Asked: Jan 05 '11 at 06:31

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Last updated: Jan 05 '11 at 14:11