The Dalai Lama And The Definition Of Happiness

Picture of the robe of the 14th Dalai Lama (red)
Picture courtesy of Christofer Michel

“I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in that religion or this religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”

― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World

The Dalai Lama often writes that all sentient beings strive for happiness. But what is the definition of happiness other than that what one strives for? Therefore claiming that everyone strives for happiness is not usefull, it contains no information.

In the post On The Measurability of Happiness on Philosophy Forums, Phelgm gives an operational meaning of the term.

Subjective well-being is how good a person feels about his well-being: if I feel good about my well-being, then I could be called happy, and if I don’t feel good about my well-being, I can be called unhappy.

I studied psychology in the eighties, when behaviourism was still popular. Our professor of biological psychology, quite minimalistically, explained:

We asume that whatever the organism strives for, is what makes it happy. This is the operational definition of happiness.

So I think that the proposition that we strive to happiness is empty. It delivers no new information