Pacific - The exploration of happiness

Pacific - The exploration of happiness

Can there be a science of joy? (1974)

Isla Isabela, off Mexico in the Pacific Ocean… Overhead hundreds and hundreds of seabirds are flying in the tropical sky. An extraordinary sense of bliss fills my body and soul. I sense growing inside me the rarely found but highly sought feeling we call happiness. And I wonder…

Our entire human existence is consecrated to the pursuit of pleasure—first that of meeting our basic needs of hunger, thirst, etc. Then our social structure gives rise to other joys: to command, to obey, to succeed…

Is there a place for more subtle, more refined kinds of happiness, free of material contingencies? The simple sense of belonging to the great miracle of life provides one example. I know others: contemplating a work of art, hearing a Bach concerto…

The concept of studying the question of happiness—of establishing a science of joy—seems fundamental to me. Such a discipline would let us separate ourselves from the pseudo-satisfaction we get from the relentless quest for material things—the root of foolish pollution and damage. It would give us a feeling of harmony with Nature, with our fellow beings and with ourselves, without which there is no true joy.

Yes, we can find happiness in protecting what is around us, not just because we can taste its impressive beauty, power and mystery, but even more because we love other humans—those who live today and those who will be born tomorrow…