There are over 19,000 search results for books on Happiness on Amazon alone. A similar search for movies throws up over 500 results. 10% of the Top 20 talks of all time on TED are about Happiness.
What is it about happiness that makes us want it so much? The philosopher Aristotle said that people choose happiness for its own sake, not to achieve some other purpose. If you have true happiness, you do not need anything else.
Yet, we're all in the pursuit of happiness and with very few who seemed to have found it.
For many, they feel wealth, recognition and a position of power brings, or rather would bring happiness. Easily confusing those very things as reasons why some of the world's business leaders consider themselves happy. But is that so?
Let's find out!
During a Q&A on Facebook last year, Mark Zuckerberg answered a question about happiness. He said, "To me, happiness is doing something meaningful that helps people and that I believe in with people I love. I think lots of people confuse happiness with fun. I don't believe it is possible to have fun every day. But I do believe it is possible to do something meaningful that helps people every day.
As I've grown up, I've gained more appreciation for my close relationships -- my wife, my partners at work, my close friends. Nobody builds something by themselves. Long term relationships are very important."
Richard Branson wrote a letter for http://www.mind.org.uk/Mind's book: Dear Stranger, Letters on the subject of happiness. In this letter he talks about what it means to be happy and what drives happiness for him.
"I know I'm fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven't; in fact it's the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.
So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it's about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don't forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.
For me, it's watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It's holding my new grandchildren's tiny hands. It's looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It's listening to my family's dinner-time debates. It's the smile on a stranger's face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It's the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer."
Berkshire Hathaway's shareholder meetings are ever popular for the wisdom shared by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger. In one of the recent such shareholder meetings, Warren Buffet discussed happiness in response to a question from a shareholder from Chicago.
He said, "There are things money can't buy. I don't think standard of living equates with cost of living beyond a certain point. Good housing, good health, good food, good transport. There's a point you start getting inverse correlation between wealth and quality of life. My life couldn't be happier. In fact, it'd be worse if I had six or eight houses. So, I have everything I need to have, and I don't need any more because it doesn't make a difference after a point. When you get to 10 times or 100 times or 1,000 times, it doesn't make a difference [in quality of life]."
In an interview to The Daily Telegraph, Bill Gates revealed his thoughts on happiness.
He said, "Money is counterproductive-it prevents happiness to come. For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness. I come from a very poor family, where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years.
More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now-all this luxury and consumerism-and start your real life.' I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need. I have the feeling that there are lot of people doing the same thing."
In a recent interview to The Huffington Post, Tony Hsieh said that, "When people are unhappy, they are generally focused on 'This is what's wrong with my life? Why is this happening to me?' 'How do I become happier?' It is kind of ironic, but if you actually focus on how to make other people happy, whether it is employees or friends, it actually ends up making yourself happier.
If you are trying to chase happiness to benefit yourself, it may be harder to get to than if you go about it in what may seem counter-intuitive by focusing on others."