What Is the Authentic Source of Happiness?

Everyone wants to be happy. There are myriad interpretations of what happiness is, how to be happy, and what the source of happiness is, and certainly, if we could identify an authentic source of happiness, then we could be confident in a goal to aspire toward.

In this examination on an authentic source of happiness, we will look into:

  • whether there is such a thing as an authentic source of happiness,
  • whether happiness is subjective and relative to each person, or whether there can be a source of happiness common to all, 
  • the roles society and its values play on our happiness,
  • what stands in the way of being happy all the time,
  • the role human nature plays on our happiness,
  • defining an authentic source of happiness and the kind of transformation needed to experience it.

Is There Such a Thing as an Authentic Source of Happiness?

Is happiness subjective and relative to every person, or can there be a source of happiness common to all?

In order to examine these questions, it is important to view ourselves as a social species, viewing our lives in connection with others, and that the quality of our connections influences our perspectives and sensations of happiness.

The fact that we’re a social species differentiates us from animals. We are molded and affected by our surroundings at every moment of our lives. Our birthplace, where we’re raised, our families, schools, teachers, friends, work colleagues, as well as our culture and the media we absorb and engage with, all influence our definitions of what it means to be happy, how we can achieve happiness and what we do in order to achieve it.

Many happiness studies have already concluded that a positively connected and supportive society provides the basis for its members’ happiness. A social foundation where everyone tends to each otherreceiving as much as each individual needs and working for everyone’s benefit—is an optimal setup for each person’s happiness.

What Interferes With Our Happiness?

The problem is that where there is society, there are social desires, i.e. desires for money, honor, respect, fame, control, power and knowledge. Our individual pursuits to fulfill these desires at others’ expense interferes with our happiness. For instance, if a person wants to become rich, powerful or famous, he must continually struggle to out-compete others, building his pursuit of such goals by disturbing or ruining the wealth, power or fame of others.

Moreover, human nature, which is a desire to enjoy, works such that when we enjoy something, our desire for that enjoyment extinguishes upon its reception, and a new desire surfaces in its place. This modus operandi of human nature makes us feel constantly unsatisfied and wanting.

This formula we live by—the pursuit of happiness at others’ expense coupled with the constant dissatisfaction embedded in human nature—is the antithesis to happiness. It can then be concluded that if our sources of happiness remain as individual quests for pleasure at others’ expense, we will never experience a lasting, blossoming form of happiness. We will be plagued by our desires becoming emptied all the time, and will endure increasing dissatisfaction until we will ultimately despair from trying to make our way in society with competitive, individualistic motives.

It is a must for every nation to be strongly united within, so all the individuals within it are attached to one another by instinctive love. Moreover, each individual should feel that the happiness of the nation is one’s own happiness, and the nation’s decadence is one’s own decadence… It means that the people of that nation, who sense that harmony, are the ones who make the nation, and the measure of happiness of the nation and sustainability are measured by their quality.

– Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, The Nation.

Public opinion today venerates rivalry and individual achievement. In other words, if you trample upon your competition in order to succeed as an individual, you’re viewed with respect. It is an interwoven symptom of the individualistic-competitive values we are raised with, from our schools and universities, through the films, music, media, TV shows and Internet discussions we regularly engage with. Therefore, if we seek an authentic source of happiness, we need to first surmise that nothing will change if our egoistic human nature continues absorbing social influences that feed into its selfish direction at others’ expense.

Even if we define an authentic source of happiness that can satisfy everyone—a limitless form of pleasure that fills us when we engage in giving to and positively connecting with others—we still won’t experience lasting happiness if society as a whole fails to prioritize values of giving, kindness, altruism and positive connection over present-day competitive-individualistic values.

What Will Increase Awareness of the Authentic Source of Happiness?

The rise in misfortunes and problems in human society will play their role to raise awareness of why we fail to achieve an authentic and lasting form of happiness. In the wisdom of Kabbalah, this state is called “recognition of evil.” It means that problems and crises accumulate until we see that as much as we want to live happy and harmonious lives, we don’t, and moreover, the situation worsens. Eventually, we will realize that the solution is in a fundamental shift of our values—from competitive-individualistic-egoistic values to cooperative-connected-altruistic ones—and that the educational institutions and media permeating values into our lives need to accept major responsibility in such a transformation.

The very appearance of happiness science and positive psychology in an age where depression has risen to become the world’s most prominent disease shows a clear example of how, as our sorrows worsen, we seek to counter them with an antidote.

It is this same era that the authors of The Book of Zohar, as well as the most renowned Kabbalist of the 20th Century, Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) stated that the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah would become revealed and available to all, as a method to guide society to the kinds of positive connections that can make everyone happy.

Kabbalah is a method that teaches how to create a positively connected society of happy individuals, balanced with nature. It does this by guiding its participants through a process of experimentation in connecting with others in order to attract a force of connection dwelling in nature, which has the power to change us to make us more considerate of each other. Thus, a person will learn to aspire not only to fulfill his or her own happiness, but that of others as well. A harmonious human society will then be built to ensure the happiness of every individual.

Dr. Michael Laitman

PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.

What Is the Source of Happiness?

What Is the Source of Happiness? | Ask The Kabbalist with Dr. Michael Laitman


Why Is It So Hard for People to Be Happy? | Live Kabbalah Q&A Webinar


Happiness FAQ 

Will I be Happy in the Future?Will I Be Happy in the Future?

You can be happy even today, together with everyone, if we all connect and make each other feel happy. You will feel happy if you think about other people’s happiness instead of your personal happiness, about how and what you can give to them. You simply need to learn how. Happiness can be achieved in no other way.

How Can I Feel Happy All the Time?How Can I Feel Happy All the Time?

We are in an ocean of a positive force of pure love, bestowal, goodness, kindness, happiness and wholeness. Progress in the method of Kabbalah grants us access to it. It gives us tools to feel and cooperate with that force. A supportive environment is an important part of the method, i.e. others also aspiring to attain contact with the ultimate source of happiness, and who are willing to support you in your efforts to do so. By creating a mutual support network, you can advance toward that sensation more and more, and then will feel that there is nothing to fear and there is no bad or evil in the world, just an endless, infinite “light,” i.e. force of love and bestowal.

Can I be Happy Alone?Can I be Happy Alone?

Complete happiness is impossible when a person is alone, because the ultimate source of happiness is a force that connects us in mutual ties of love, bestowal and positive connection. To experience this force, we need to actively participate in a social life that aims to reveal this force. By doing so, we undergo corrections in our inner makeup—from egoistic to altruistic—until we all become conduits of this force to each other. Therefore, it is important to be connected to others, even if only virtually.

When Will I Know I Achieve Happiness?When Will I Know I Achieve Happiness?

The development of an aspiration for the goal—balance with the source of happiness that operates in a mode of love, bestowal and positive connection—is where we achieve happiness. In simple terms, we’re happy when we yearn for the goal, and not when we achieve it, so we need to constantly yearn for more and more love, bestowal and connection among us and with the source of these qualities. When we achieve something, we satisfy ourselves temporarily, and then that satisfaction fades away. Therefore, achieving complete happiness is in yearning for it, not in achieving it.

How Can I be Happy if Pleasure Always Fades Away?How Can I be Happy if Pleasure Always Fades Away?

When our desires become fulfilled, the fulfillment cancels the desires and their pleasures, and we stop feeling the pleasures of fulfillment. This is why there is no complete happiness in our lives. It’s why we’re on a constant pursuit to satisfy our desires, but we only feel sensations of happiness for brief moments, before they dissipate.

After so many repeated experiences, we reach a state where we no longer want to pursue such illusory happiness. However, the feeling of life is the sensation of “desire and fulfillment,” and so we cannot but continue chasing them ad nauseam. This is why so many means that attempt to limit our desires become popular, from religions, new age teachings, meditation and yoga, all the way through to drugs.

Kabbalah offers a different and unique solution to this problem by enabling us to achieve an eternal and unbounded form of happiness, i.e. happiness at its source. It involves learning how to combine desire and fulfillment within ourselves, without canceling the two, so that they augment each other.

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  1. Amber

    Count me in, now how can we share this with every human being so that they would see it as a viable option?

    I assume we would all need to be on the same page for this system to work the way your describing?

    How can we get billions of people who don’t care about anything besides themselves that they need to be kind and cooperate with everyone around them?

    If only some decide to live this way and the rest do not, i.e. there is a pacifist and a brute, a good and bad person, how does the good/pacifist come out well, if the other is unwilling to cooperate and change?

    How can we get people to hear, and believe this message? that worldwide cooperation, love, bestowal between people is in their best interest and is even possible when looking at the current state of the world?

    It feels like we are headed towards darker times if we don’t try something drastically new and different. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

    I believe many people are realizing we’ve reached a major crux, but those who see and feel it don’t know what to do about it, how and where to begin because it can seem impossible.

    It’s obvious we need a lot of help to do this, maybe the first step is acknowledging it, but we are also in a time of exploding ego’s running the world that think they have all the answers.

    So how do we the few, that agree to this concept, bring about such a momentous change in the world? How can we help?

    Thank you!

  2. Edward Ponderer

    At first I wondered in coming to this site that I was again wasting my time chasing the smiley face on my tail.

    Then its words seemed an implacable logic convincing me only that happiness was intrinsically elusive, and ergo illusion.

    Then something very new—at least something that I never knew—hit in the words that followed further.

    The entire world says: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Even my country—the USA—founds itself on it, “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and so many want to come to America and taste that. Yes, the first just an ironic statement of life’s fickleness. Yes, just a promise to let you live, and since you are not just a plant, to be free, and since you are not just an animal avoiding British tax roaming charges, be unencumbered to follow your dreams. However, the state takes on no obligation to provide you actual results for the last.

    But what—what are these saying subliminally, in a deeper sense?

    Had Euclid not been blinded by his Platonism, he would have realized that there were no definitions or axioms through reason, but only by perception. He would have realized that his parallel “postulate” was a complex construct of assumptions, that his definition of a “line” said nothing about not being a closed curve. He was prejudiced by the flatness of the local space about him. If his mind were freed of the trap of his philosopher teachers, the non-Euclidean geometry of 19th-century mathematics and 20th-century physics and beyond could have been his 2,000 years ago.

    So here, indeed you really can’t have your cake and eat it too, because if you eat it, the cake of your desire has vanished. [Think of the boy in the movie Matilda who was rewarded with all the cake that he could hold down and more as a reward for his earlier desire that caused him to steal some.] You can’t have what people normally consider happiness and actually be happy with it. You need a kind of happiness that you can “eat” and still be happy with—in fact ever happier in the very eating of it.
    Here too, the state—the environment—must support the pursuit of that true happiness even while you “eat it.”

    All this means finding happiness in bestowal—because no matter what I give, there is still a need out there for more—this happiness is never extinguished in the eating, the pleasure grows ever larger for once you look for providing for those outside of you–you will evermore find that need. This cannot be worked without group psychology—giving this the perceived value that waiting on line to by a “real steal” (they want you to think that you win—and they lose so you really “win”) – until society declare the giver the real winner, rather than “the sucker.”

    A clear statement of the problem is half the solution. This site has—to what part I’ve read on this first trip—already done that for happiness, and some insight to the environmental (education and media) part of the (problem and) solution. Still, will you really like giving? Further, while plenty of need is out there, we are also as limited in financial and physical resources as we are in how much selfish satisfaction we were able to muster.

    The Kabbalah methodology discussed obviously refers to something as radically different from this means of giving as it does the target of happiness itself. But having proven to have “half the solution,” I think that it’s certainly worth exploring here if this site does indeed hold the key to the other half.

    • Margarita

      Great site of healthy food for thought that I have encountered surfing the internet for the ever elusive happiness. The great part is that it spreads a table of sources that give one ledge of engagement, invitation to participate with surprisingly simple but profound solutions that ring a bell of deja vu deep inside the person. Clicking on sources invites one to go deeper with assurance of better and better results to clear old perceptions and replace with new that foster love for the fellow man that I was afraid of before.

  3. Mary Miesem

    “The very appearance of happiness science and positive psychology in an age where depression has risen to become the world’s most prominent disease shows a clear example of how, as our sorrows worsen, we seek to counter them with an antidote.”

    Yes! In order to know what we want, we have to experience what we don’t want. We are assaulted every day with stories of the unhappiness in the world. We are now called upon to balance the chaos with peace and harmony–to create happiness and connection among us. And here on this site we are given all the tools we need in order to move forward.

  4. Robin Anderson

    Wow!!! There is a place here for my longing and desire. The goal of happiness exists now between us, in my desire and in my aim to MORE like this in the future? What more could I want???? Plus, the need for my active exertion……this all really fits my internal longings and emotion but……..Why do I not see this in others is a BIG question?

  5. Jocelyne Steeves

    Great article! Two passages stand out for me:

    “Therefore, if we seek an authentic source of happiness, we need to first surmise that nothing will change if our egoistic human nature continues absorbing social influences that feed into its selfish direction at others’ expense.”
    “when we engage in giving to and positively connecting with others—we still won’t experience lasting happiness if society as a whole fails to prioritize values of giving, kindness, altruism and positive connection over present-day competitive-individualistic values.”

    So, basically I have to change in order to undo this negative competitive tendency. I am very optimistic that the answer can only be found with other like minded people.

  6. Veronica

    Thank you so much for providing a page filled with knowledge about the thing that motivates our every action – our search for happiness. In a world that is so bleak and hopeless, this information is like a ray of light shining on what seems like the obvious…that our happiness depends on others. I will be checking out the course for sure.

  7. Deb Zemke

    Finding out the truth about what really makes us happy and learning what to do to stay happy is an amazing gift! Honestly, in today’s world which seems so chaotic and depressing most of the time, everyone is searching for the key to happiness, and you have just provided it! Thank you!

  8. Zsolt Hermann

    After reading through the amassed facts, resources on this page, I find myself in shock.

    I am shocked by the incredible Human tragedy we are in today.

    We all want to be happy, we want our loved ones to be happy, moreover our Human purpose in life is acquiring unbounded, true Happiness.
    Still we are trampling on, destroying the very thing that could bring is this joyful contentment.

    As a result of our inherently self-serving, self-justifying, proudly, arrogantly individualistic nature we ignore and many times destroy the positive mutual connections in between Human beings.
    Our nature drives us towards exclusive, ruthless competition, gleefully succeeding at the expense of one another, thinking that such “triumph” will make us happy.

    But by doing so we burn all the bridges that lead to “true happiness”, which is a collective, positive emotional impression arising from mutually responsible, mutually complementing relationships, where we all subdue ourselves in favor of others.

    We urgently need a brand new, purposeful and practical educational program that can help us comprehend the source of happiness, and how we can make each other happy by methodically rising above inherent differences, overcoming our incisive distrust, mutual rejection.

  9. Amanda Green

    Thank you for this great article! It reminds me of a great quote by Walt Whitman: “We were together. I forget the rest.” Everything in life tastes so much better when it is shared…I mean tastes better on the inside, in one’s heart and in one’s soul. If I achieve everything and grab everything life has to offer for myself, what good does that actually do for me? It would still be lonely.


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