The Definition of Happiness

05.07.2020 |

Episode #7 of the course How to become happier: A guide to reprogramming your thinking by John Robin


Welcome to the seventh day of our course on becoming happier.

Yesterday, we learned how to invert our faulty core beliefs, so that we could arrive at our five core affirmations.

It’s worth reviewing the seven steps we have learned:

Step 1: Notice negative thoughts.

Step 2: Catch a negative thought and reword it to be positive.

Step 3: Notice patterns in the negative thoughts to determine what core emotional needs you are lacking.

Step 4: Invert negative thoughts to best provide your lacking core needs.

Step 5: Map out your list of core needs to determine your top 5.

Step 6: Convert your five core needs into the faulty core beliefs they encompass.

Step 7: Invert your core beliefs to create your five core affirmations.

Having now taken these seven steps, we can arrive at last at a definition of what happiness is.


The Most Powerful of Affirmations

Being happy is both simple, and difficult.

It’s simple because happiness, when it fills us, is simply there, like air in our lungs.

It’s difficult because you cannot just will it into being. You cannot force yourself to feel happy when you are angry, or when you are sad. While you can pretend at happiness among friends, you cannot pretend it with yourself.

You must work at it. It is a mindful art, and by that I mean, the more mindful you become, the more you can learn to immerse yourself in the happiness that surrounds every moment of life.

Happiness is a compound emotion. There is a lot that lurks beneath feeling happy.

The most powerful emotions within happiness are contentment, joy, wholeness.

And yet, happiness can be understood by what emotions are lacking when we feel its opposite—unhappiness.

Specifically: we feel unhappy when one or more of our core needs are lacking.

This leads us to our definition of happiness:

Happiness is the state you feel when your core needs are met.

Another way of saying all your core needs are met is: all your core affirmations are true.

And this is where our definition of happiness is truly powerful.

By asserting your core affirmations, you are able to go back to your inner child, to your oldest faulty beliefs about the world, to set a new belief in place. That belief is:

Everything I believed about the world, I made at a time I did not understand it.

I now accept that these beliefs were wrong.

I now understand I can decide what I want to believe.

I believe I can be happier.

Recall the definition of a belief: it is a special kind of thought that tells you what to think about other thoughts.

So, this new belief you instill by asserting your core affirmations is a “super belief”—it is a belief about a belief.

Just like how mindfulness lets you see outside the waterfall of your incessant thoughts, believing that your past beliefs were wrong helps you see beyond the mechanism that causes your negative thoughts to spring up like weeds.

This belief, in fact, is the more powerful of all beliefs you can cultivate in your mind. With it comes the most powerful of affirmations you can assert: “I am happy”.

Simply saying “I am happy” will not make you happier. But understanding the meaning of “I am happy” as an affirmation emergent of all your core affirmations working together is a compound step—yet another, larger Russian doll containing the smaller steps that have led us to this point.

But there are still three lessons left for a reason. We don’t stop here. There is much more involved now that we have learned these seven steps.

Today’s lesson is a chance to stop and appreciate what we have built toward for the last 6 lessons, and how the simple step of noticing negative thoughts can lead to being equipped to be happier.

“I am happy” is your goal, an affirmation that should echo inside when you are asserting your other five core affirmations. Feeling the compound emotion of happiness is a pursuit, and in the coming lessons, we will learn how to master this pursuit by further skills that put our affirmations to work.

As you will see in the next lesson, learning why we are unhappy is just half of the process. Making moments of happiness more consistent, and deepening how often and how fully we feel them throughout our day, is the end goal of our journey together.



Spend ten minutes meditating on your core affirmations. Imagine feeling all the emotions they give you. Pay attention to what it feels like to have your core needs met. How does it feel to be happy?

This new normal will be important for tomorrow.


Recommended book

The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler


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