What is the opposite of happiness?

I’ve read that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. What is opposite of happiness?

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
Elie Wiesle (Oct. 1986) wisdomquotes.com/000623.html

Despair (quite often the product of being subjected to the genuine, not feigned, indifference of our fellow man).

Quite right. You hit the nail on it’s head :smiley: .

The word happiness has two meanings.

Meaning 1. pleasure, contentment, well-being.

When Einstein says that “happiness is a suitable goal for a pig, bit not for a human” he refers to this meaning.

Meaning 2. ecstasy, rapture, bliss, euphoria, enthusiasm, excitement.

Now this meaning is something worth striving for. It is a legitimate goal for a human.

The opposite of meaning 2 is despair, boredom, apathy.

So what goals should you have? Things and activities that excite you and fill you with enthusiasm. When Joseph Campbell says “Follow your bliss” this is what he is referring to. What things should you avoid. The things that lead to despair and boredom, like going to a job you despise.

If you were in despair, Bob, Ill wager youd give your right arm to be merely bored or apathetic.

Touche mon frere. You’re right, despair is much worse than boredom. But the important thing is not grading different kinds of hells. The important thing is to decide our goals in life. Many people have difficulty to decide what the hell it’s all about and what goals they should try to accomplish. To state that we want to be happy is too vague to be practical. Hence I advocate that we should ask ourselves what excites us and what fills us with enthusiasm. When you choose a goal that fills you with enthusiasm then you also get energy and zest for life. It’s no use to have a goal to make 1 million dollars if that goal doesn’t fill you with unbound energy. If instead the goal of starting your own online company (or your own cafe, or writing a book or whatever) fills you with such energy then do not hesitate, but go ahead without delay.

Hmm … after my many years of trying to understand myself and my life, I have come to a conclusion which in some ways is similar, but also seems different. And I have had occasion recently to pass it on to some of my students.

I think the first stage of our goal in life is to identify what it is that makes us value ourselves, and then the overarching goal is to work for that. I have come to the conclusion that what makes me value myself is helping others to recognise and achieve what they are capable of and wish to achieve, in particular now to help them recognise that self-valuation is the key to it all. That the things that others see as enabling them to value themselves can include running their own business or making a million dollars is not an issue for me.

Happiness is too nebulous a concept for me, and there are too many outside determinants out of my control as far as I’m concerned. But if I was forced into a life in which I could not do that which makes me value myself, then it would be impossible to be happy anyway.


You’re right Mark. Maybe what you call self-valuation is what I would call self-realization. By the word “self” I do not refer to your little ego, but to your “true self” which is to ego what ocean is to a drop of water. By self-realization I mean the development or fulfillment of one’s potential. But let’s not split hairs. I’ll keep your word “self-valuation” as the concept we discuss.

What makes your self-evaluation positive and what makes it negative? When you do worthy things (what you personally consider worthy), your self-valuation is positive. When you do not do things that you personally consider worthy, you feel that you are wasting your time and life and, your self-valuation is negative. But what is worthy and what is not worthy (for you personally)? The things that excite you, fill you with enthusiasm, worthy goals that make you stretch yourself. If you manage to do these things your self-valuation goes up. But if you do things that are boring that make you feel that you are wasting your life then your self-valuation goes down. So the key to it all is to do things that you know are worthy of you, especially if they are beyond what you think is possible. If you manage to complete such a task then your self-valuation takes a quantum leap :smiley:.

As I said, and fundamentally we agree on this, my understanding is very similar but not the same. I’m not sure whether my “self” is your “self” … I think it may be nearer to the ego in the sense that as I have got older I have learnt more to abandon grandiose concepts of the purpose of life. On the other hand I think my valuation goes deeper, because it does not really have it’s foundation in excitement, enthusiasm or stretching myself; it is more a deep sense of having, in my case, used what abilities and knowledge I seem to have for the benefit of those around me, often at some degree of expense to myself, whether in terms of “happiness” or having to abandon some other possible course which might have led to happiness.

Bliss, rapture, euphoria or whatever are possible by-products of having succeeded in creating a life which allows you to feel that you are a valuable human being. Much of the time, while one might be successful in performing whatever that fits that, one’s happiness may be diminished by the reactions or behaviour of the individuals or community in which one finds oneself and towards whom one has been giving one’s all. That is why I say that happiness is too nebulous a concept for me, as the other members of the community act as determinants out of my control.

And I don’t relate this to individual tasks, but rather to an overall approach to life.

So if you ask me, “Are you a happy person?” my answer is only partially “Yes”. If you ask me something more on the lines of, “Do you think you are a valuable human being? Have you found what makes you feel that way and been able to make it the keystone of your life?” then the answer is “Yes”. To me, being a valuable human being is more important than being a happy person.


Personally, I’d be quite happy with pleasure, contentment and well-being: to wake up after a good night’s sleep, feeling refreshed; to sip my coffee and watch the sun rise; to have a sense of well-being as well as a sense of humor … that is a life I’d enjoy day after day.

Never thought of myself as a pig before … but they are supposed to be smart animals (or so I’ve heard) :wink:

Where did piggy come from? :slight_smile: Do you mean, “Happy as a pig in…!” I thought that was a Brit expression. :laughing:
Take care
Loads ‘o’ Luv

The goals we choose should fulfill the following criteria:

  1. Choose something that you know needs to be done but is not done by anybody else.
  2. Choose something that fills you with enthusiasm and unbound energy.
  3. Choose something that seems impossible (if it’s not hard you will not get the energy you’ll need).
  4. Chose something that you would choose if you had one billion dollars in your bank account.

Here’s how your goal search can be done.

  1. Create a table with 6 columns (with an Excel type of application). Name the first column “Impossible”. Now list at least 20 different goals that you consider impossible or very hard for you to achieve.
  2. Name the next column “Difficulty”. Now for each item in the Impossible column give it a grade from one to five. Five if this goal is nearly impossible for you to accomplish.
  3. Name the next column “Enthusiasm”. Now for each item in the Impossible column give it a grade from one to five. Five if this goal would fill you with unbound energy.
  4. Name the next column “Needs”. Now for each item in the Impossible column give it a grade from one to five. Five if this goal needs to be done, but isn’t done by anybody else.
  5. Name the next column “Billionaire”. Now for each item in the Impossible column give it a grade from one to five. Five if you would choose this goal if you had one billion dollars in your bank account.
  6. Name the next column “Total”. Now for each item in the Impossible column sum up the grades. When done sort the whole list in descending order according to your totals. The top of your list will now show you the most promising goals.

Here is one example (only 12 goals instead of 20+, but it’s just for illustration).

Unhappiness is the opposite of Happiness.

What is the opposite of a Near-Miss?

Despair is the opposite of Hope.

Here is a thought… could the opposite of happiness be getting stuck in the middle seat on a trans pacific flight, with Wock on one side, Jaysen on the other, roo baiting matt in front and vic-k behind kicking your seat?

I figure being in hell is supposed to be the unhappiest condition possible. I think the above is as close as you can get to being in hell without being dead.

That would be the drunkest, loudest, and funniest section on the whole plane.


A girl so desirably touchable, but out of reach? :confused:

Without being too literal about it, I think it a reasonable proposition that: ecstasy n despair, can be considered the extremes of Happiness and Unhappiness.
Take care