“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.” – Dale Carnegie
The quest for happiness is one that has preoccupied psychologists and experts for generations. In an effort to better understand the concept, and how it is obtained, the study of positive psychology was born. In an article for Psychology Today, happiness is defined as “More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life – that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.”
Herein lies the challenge, understanding where we can draw the line between short-term satisfaction and a longer-term experience that would then meet the above definition. In order to truly achieve happiness, one must first understand what makes them happy. This may be a specific item, a feeling or something deeper, like a connection with another being.
This is the mystery that Aristotle set out to define and answer when he revealed his theory – the 4 Levels of Happiness. Each level was defined by the underlying cause of happiness, also revealing potential reasons that one might lose this feeling of happiness.
Here Are Aristotle’s 4 Levels of Happiness – What Level Are You Currently At?
Level 1: Laetus – Happiness from Material Objects
Happiness at this first level is that which is found from something external, a material happiness. People who are living at this stage in their lives will feel as though they have the world by the horns when they have the latest and greatest of everything that life has to offer, however when they hit a financial crisis or are unable to continue living the life that they have grown accustomed to, this happiness quickly fades. This is due to the fact that happiness at the first level is entirely dependent on material possessions, with nothing else to fall back on.
Level 2: Felix – Happiness from Comparison
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the feeling of winning or the admiration of your peers, those who spend their time at the second level depend upon these feelings for happiness. Constantly comparing themselves to everyone that they meet, their happiness is dependent on whether they are ‘winning’ in various areas of their lives. If they feel as though they are falling short of those around them, this leads to incredibly negative thoughts and feelings such as worthlessness, jealousy, and cynicism.
Level 3: Beatitudo – Happiness from Doing Good for Others
When people move into level 3 they are moving into a new, deeper way of feeling. It is at this stage that people let go of their self-conscious ways putting the needs and desires of others first. Happiness at this level is based on the connection that they forge with the people that they encounter in their lives, or, on a basic level, love. Those who are at the third level of happiness struggle with incredibly high expectations of others. If there is anything that will shatter their happiness, it will be disappointment, jealousy and the potential risk of being hurt.
Level 4: Sublime Beatitudo – Ultimate, Perfect Happiness
The level of happiness that everyone works to obtain, the fourth level is a healthy balance of all three previous levels working together. This is more than just a connection with the people in their lives, people who have achieved the fourth level find their happiness in a connection to the greater Universe. There is no definitive answer to reaching this level of happiness as it is highly individual. True happiness at the fourth level may be found through art, philosophy, science, spirituality or religion.