Why Be Happy?

Why Be Happy?

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Most people think of happiness as essentially
a selfish issue: “I want to be happy – and I want to be happy for me.”
I would like to suggest that in fact happiness is far, far more than a selfish desire. In
fact, it is a moral obligation. I know that most people have never thought
of happiness in this way. Neither did I for much of my life. I thought that happiness,
and especially the pursuit of happiness, was all about oneself.
But it isn’t. Whether or not you’re happy, and most importantly,
whether or not you act happy is about altruism, not selfishness — because it is about how
we affect others’ lives. And that’s what makes it a moral issue.
Ask anybody who was raised by an unhappy parent whether or not happiness is a moral issue,
and I assure you the answer will be “yes”. It’s no fun being raised by an unhappy parent,
or being married to an unhappy person, or being the parent of an unhappy child, or working
with an unhappy co-worker. Our happiness affects others — profoundly.
That’s why happiness is a moral obligation. We are morally obligated to at least act as
happy as possible – even if we don’t feel happy. People can‘t be guided by feelings
because it is how we act that affects others – not how we feel.
A good analogy to bad moods is bad breath. Why do we brush our teeth multiple times every
day? It’s not only because of hygiene, it’s because we want to present good breath to
anybody who we come in contact with. Well, the same thing holds true for our moods.
A bad mood should be regarded exactly as we regard bad breath. Why are you inflicting
it on me? Or, why am I inflicting it on you? It’s just not right. That’s why one should
endeavor as much as possible, to act as happy as possible, as often as possible.
And just about anyone can do this. No matter how unhappy you may feel at any given moment,
you can – and have to – make a decision on how to act. We may not be free to control
whether we feel sad or happy, but we are free to control whether or not we present a happy
countenance to others. That doesn’t mean that we don’t share
how we feel with our best friends, including hopefully, our spouse. Of course we can, and
without overdoing it, we should. “You know I’m really sad. I had this problem at work
today; I have this problem with my marriage; I have this problem with my kid, I have this
problem with my parents.” But you don’t inflict a bad mood on anybody.
That’s a different thing altogether. We all have the capacity to control how we
express ourselves, no matter how we feel. I can prove it. Imagine someone who is just
acting miserably to his or her spouse when somebody comes to the door. Have you ever
noticed how nicely such a person will treat the stranger? How were they able – in a
split second – to go from inflicting their awful mood on their spouse to acting beautifully
toward the stranger who is at the door? Obviously we can control our moods.
Or, how about this? Let’s say you are chronically in a bad mood and I offered you ten thousand
dollars a week not to be in a bad mood. Do you think this would affect your ability to
be in a good mood? I suspect it would. And, to be honest, we even have the power
to affect how we feel, not only how we act. Abraham Lincoln famously said that we are
as happy as we decide to be. That is exactly what we should decide. Being happier is good
for us and it is what we owe everybody who is in our lives.
Becoming happier is another great benefit of acting happy: the happier we act, the happier
we will feel. We think that our actions are determined by our feelings. But we have the
power to achieve the opposite — to shape our feelings by our actions. How we act influences
our feelings more than our feelings should be allowed to influence our behavior. So, yes, indeed, we do have a moral obligation to be, or at least to act, happy. The happy
make the world better and the unhappy make it worse.
Happiness is a huge issue. Lincoln was right, we are as happy as we decide to be; it’s
time to make that decision. I’m Dennis Prager.

100 thoughts on “Why Be Happy?”

  1. I like this video, but it should have been called "Why Be Pleasant." Then it would accept the fact that sometimes we simply aren't very happy and that we have a right to allow certain feelings to pass. Being pleasant is a more honest and realistic term, without making people think they should be "fake." I do think that it's our duty to work on those feelings though, as suggested in the video.

  2. Wow. All I can say is wow. Dennis Prager did in 5 minutes what hours upon hours upon hours of liberal feel good be happy motivational BS could never do. Give me a good reason to have a more positive outlook. He explained it instead of just putting it on you. This is the type of motivational speech that we need more of in the world. This type. Stuff that all the Jim Carrey's and Tony Robbins of the world could never come up with. Not in a million years. This right here maybe the best Prager video I have seen. And maybe the most important.

  3. After my dad died my mom moved in with my family. She used her moods to try to control our behavior and our household. She would be nasty or sad to get the attention she wanted. I tried talking to her, go to counseling together, she told me I was the one with the problem. After a week long visit with my grandparents my grandpa called and said she was so mean she made grandma cry. When I tried to get her to call her dad and apologize she screamed at me and demanded I take it back. I refused and told her to just call and make grandma feel better. She didn't. That was the last time she spoke to me, even though she lived with us for 2 more years. She has convinced every family member we made her pay our bills and threw her out. Nope, she decided she was going to live with my brother. She withheld her affection and kindness unless we changed to her will. Then in a heartbeat she would dance around and clap, then sing that my sister in law came to visit her.
    Listen to the wisdom in this video because when you choose to not be happy unless the people around you make you happy you are destined to have family members relieved you haven't spoken to them in 11 years.

    But isn't it unhealthy to force happiness e.g. let's say something happend at work or at home and let's say it's too much to handle you try to be happy but can't wouldn't that be wrong. Or let's say someone has pissed you off do you still act happy.

  5. listen to this old son of a bxxxh talk makes me happy … that's a joke it doesn't
    he is what I consider "bad breath", illustrated the same way as his analogy in the video

  6. Good advice. The act of simply smiling can relieve stress, not only in us but in those around us as well. — "A cheerful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22)

  7. Terrible advice. People with smiling depression are most likely to kill themsevles even more so than people with severe depression. An article on Psychology Today titled, "Smiling Depression Nothing to smile about."explains what this is.

  8. I get the point of the argument, but it seems like the angle taken was a bit strange. I wouldnt call being happy a moral obligation. Yes, I think we should avoid forcing our unhappiness onto others. But pretending to be happy can actually be harmful to yourself. It can cause depression to develop or get worse.

  9. I totally agree with this. My most recent relationship fell apart because my boyfriend became very depressed and unhappy and it was all he would talk about with me. He stopped caring about my feelings and just wanted me to understand how miserable he was and be miserable with him. Yet, when talking to other people, he'd be perfectly pleasant and happy. When I brought it up with him, he said he couldn't control how he felt and didn't want to be policing his actions around me all the time. I didn't understand why he never cared about his effects on my mood. I thought I was being selfish for wanting him to change to accommodate me because he couldn't control his moods. It got so bad that I couldn't handle being in the relationship anymore because it was bringing me far more misery than happiness. He simply couldn't understand why I broke up with him. If only I had watched this video before then. I would have had the words to explain it to him.

  10. Lie about how you feel
    Happy is good and sad is bad
    And i am bad by that logic
    And that makes me even more sad
    And more bad

    Now you are also sad
    Or maybe not
    You could be depressed or you can be an person who ignores all the horrible things in life
    Or maybe you are a unfeeling monster of a man that exists only to make money or some thing
    Or maybe you have some thing to be happy in life
    Which is nice that you choice to be that way
    But frankly
    The thing that makes you happy probably isn't that special

    Or you can be just
    Happy for no real good reason
    And i probably want that.

  11. There is no obligation to present a good mood to people if someone is acting unhappy toward you it is your choice how you feel and act and we do not need to be putting on a show for others just because they won’t like how we act. And why should you care about your or anyone else’s feelings happy, angry, sad what does it matter?

  12. This makes a lot of sense to me. Having worked In customer service, even if I was having a horrible day I would never let that be known to customers. Nobody wants to go out to eat only to have their server gripe and complain about their problems.

  13. Damn, I went back to watch a second time and take notes and ended up writing down everything he said. Obviously if your loving spouse died your world would collapse and the pain would be incredible to say the least. But as something to put in practice every day to combat the depression that attacks us all……..sounds on point to me. Am I wrong?

  14. This is great. One thing I'll have to point out is that the "person at the door" and "receiving money" examples are environmental situations. Something from the outside is happening. So if someone feels they're suppose to act a certain way in a certain situation, they will. Fortunately, we CAN improve ourselves and use our willpower to overwrite our habits. We just need to acknowledge that this takes time and effort. No one is going to be able to change their attitude overnight and remove all of the natural triggers they had. If you don't have some ingeniously-designed life event that can affect someone in JUST THE RIGHT WAY (and no one has this) then it will take some time for them to adjust to this new way of being. As long as they're putting the effort in, they will get there. Being able to CHOOSE to present yourself in a better way definitely has a better effect on the community. And what goes around comes around back to you only making you feel better. That's how we work together and work to change our attitudes for a better community.

  15. What’s the point of joy? There is none! In fact, happiness can corrupt people and it does it more effectively than any other emotion! Sorry Prager U, you missed on this one!

  16. If you feel like you have to put on a happy mask all the time, see a therapist. There's something wrong, do something about it.

  17. This advice could potentially be harmful. Of course, there are spectrums of behaviours and feelings.

  18. There are legitimate times a person Can Unhappy And if you do not get your emotions out at these times for instance morning a loved one at a funeral They could become a great problem later And I don't the anybody can be happy 247 And I think it is unhealthy Not to experience other emotions other than being happy If somebody mugs you That can make you feel afraid and the secondary emotion would be anger however that anger can come in at just the right moment Making you defensive to fend off your attacker If a person gets sick it is not the appropriate action for that person who is sick to be happy say they come down with the flu you really cannot be happy at that moment

  19. I disagree. People should not be forced to ACT happy, that sounds absolutely dystopian to me. People should be respectful and should never try to spread their misery upon others. If you are feeling down, that is completely OK as long as you don't go around spreading it upon others. There are professionals to talk to.

  20. Today you might be unhappy,but that is a feeling,tomorrow is another day and the feeling will possibly be different. Be Happy!!!

  21. There is one thing I disagree with: I don't owe anyone to be happy or to present myself as happy, but to myself and GOD!!! I'm David Snow for Prager University. Now pay me!!!

  22. Dear Mr. Prager,

    I have been in a chronically bad mood for many years now for several reasons. I eagerly accept your challenge however. I am very interested to see the results myself because I'm not sure that it would really be that simple in my case. Please start sending the cash and I will be sure to keep you posted on how my mood is doing!!

  23. This sounds similar to the concept of the stiff upper lip, something that I like to follow. I don't like the idea of faking happiness, but I also don't like projecting unhappiness onto others.

  24. You can't survive 3 minutes without oxygen
    You can't survive 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment
    You can't survive 3 days without water
    You can't survive 3 months without food
    You can't survive 3 years without love (Unconfirmed)

    The rule of 3s say nothing about "Happiness". Most people in this world will suffer hardships and adversities to find and gain the many fruits of life, even go so far as to lie, cheat, steal, and claw for every ounce of "Happiness"

    But I'm content enough to enjoy all the cruelty and bitterness that life has to offer. It's not your goals or your destinations that make you who you are, it was the rigid path before you that whipped you(us) into shape. You may keep the rest of the orange, I'll keep the peel

  25. Nonsense!
    Happiness is subjective and for many, arbitrary.
    In the film Splendor In The Grass, When Warren Beatty is asked if he is happy, he says he doesnt think about it…he just does what he needs to do.
    Another film line suggested that people are neither happy nor unhappy but somewhere in between.
    Some intellectuals would debate that happiness doesnt exist, only contentment.
    Only celebrities, Pro Sports stars and prominent people with $$ are "deliriously happy" …if you can believe that.
    As for $$
    Even if i had a hundred thousand dollars ..just to spend for myself, it would not change my mood.
    Because $$ does Not Buy "happiness"…nothing does!
    You're Rich This year
    Next year you can lose it all!
    Look at what happened to Roseanne!
    While i agree we should not inflict our bad moods on others, there is No obligation to be happy or be Anything…just Be.

    get a great job…
    make lots of $$
    buy expensive cars, homes
    get married
    have kids
    buy things you really dont need and cant afford
    listen to the Mainstream Media when they tell you that your body is unattractive and you're not desirable to anyone.

    peace of mind should be sought.

  26. This could not be more true! I married someone that does the opposite. My parents act happy and treat people well as they did when I was a kid. My husband causes everyone to run and hide when he’s not happy. It’s not right! It is a huge issue and when you put a smile on your face, you feel happier. Like the old saying “fake it, till you make it”. Well, fake being happy, it’s really not much work. If people say “hi, how are you?” Do you say well, my dog died and I I only have 100 dollars in the bank” or so you say “fine, how are you doing?” That is what’s normal!

  27. I have horrible clinical depression. I literally am incapable of feeling happiness. I am going to shoot my self. That's not a joke.

  28. Thank you, Dennis. This is so true and something I can improve at. I would like to take you up on your offer for $10,000 a week to be happy all the time. Please send me your terms and any legal documentation and I will happily sign. I think it would be most beneficial to document this so we can show people all over the world just how significantly being happy will affect the individual and the people we come in contact with as well as the ripple effect it will have on entire communities. Thoughts?

  29. I don’t think that happiness is a moral issue. It’s a feeling and it’s not the same as being content. It cannot be forced either, since it’s a feeling and feelings just come and go. Hopefully the actual message here, is that if you pretend to be happy, then you won’t ruin other people’s fun. It’s like watching the Debbie Downer clips from SNL, her negativity ruins it for her friends and everyone around her. It’s okay not to be happy all the time, but just don’t ruin it for other people.

  30. PEACE trumps happiness! Think about it. I mean SELF inner peace. You gain happiness from acheiving goals. Then what? Another goal. More and more. Never filling that hole

  31. "He who is angry without cause shall be judged; but he who is angry with cause shall not be judged. For if there were no anger, neither teaching would profit, nor judgments hold ; nor crimes be controlled. So that he who on just cause is not angry, is in sin; for an unreasonable patience sows vices, breeds carelessness, and invites the good as well as the bad to do evil."
    Catena Aurea; the Golden Chain

    Furthermore, I was raised by a profoundly unhappy parent, but I recognize that happiness is not a moral obligation, because a moral obligation is a very specific thing. It refers to depriving others of their human rights, such as life, property, the truth, etc, or refusing to afford others the respect they deserve. Nothing about unhappiness is disrespectful, nor do we have a moral right to a pleasing social environment. If I felt that my unhappiness was a moral factor in anyone's life, I would become a hermit for the rest of my days, because no person provides me with enough happiness, to be worth giving them mine on a constant basis, and that's the truth.

    Heck, I'm surprised this video has so few dislikes. I usually like these videos, but this one just doesn't work.

  32. Yeah but if you feel bad how do you get over your bad feelings and still act happy I'm not a very good actor when I get upset I really get upset I mean it affects me all the way down to the way that I don't want to do the things that I do when I'm happy I guess it almost makes me depressed so how do you get over something like that and still smile? If you could help me here you would really help me save my marriage and my life

  33. So now that I'm halfway through this video it says that was just supposed to act happy? Does that mean that I just smile and try my best to be nice even though I really don't want to talk to anyone or have the patience anymore to deal with people? How do you make yourself do something that you don't want to do

  34. I must be sick because what he said that he would give me $10,000 a week just to be happy I thought to myself I think I could still find something to be unhappy about between weeks

  35. Happiness about you is all about you and you are not morally obligated to maintain other people's happiness. Mr. Page, your morals come from Christianity to the best of my knowledge and from a previous video you put out.

    Giving some $10,000/wk. will only last for a short period and their unhappiness will return. If you had no family or friends the happiness from the money wouldn't last 5 minutes. We are one of the richest countries in the world, but have a higher suicide rate than the poorest. After all, if you were the only person on earth with all the money in the world, you would still be unhappy. So money isn't the solution. The core problem is within.

    Where ever you go, there you will be. You can't escape you or your unhappiness.

    Unlike other approaches of pretending to be happy, such as at church or work, acting or pretending to be happy is a form of deception, which is very closely related to lying. I'm not saying you shouldn't pour out your issues, but there is a time and place for everything. If society were to be more accepting, the number of sad postings on Facebook would outnumber the number of happy ones by a factor of 10, maybe 100. Most people who are generally unhappy are unhappy 99.9% of the time, with the 0.1% being what they post on Facebook. Yeah they look excited on the pictures they posted about their vacation, but what you don't see is the vast amount of debt. Rarely does anyone post their sadness.

    I do agree, you shouldn't inflict your unhappiness onto others, but it is equally their responsibility to decide to ingest it or not.

    Yes, unhappiness is a feeling that many people can't control, but how we act for some people isn't easy or even possible. Yes once you act happy it can be a domino effect, but acting of any sorts is not going to last, which is why they call it acting.

    Before you can truly help, truly help others you, you need to help yourself in order to be of great benefit to others – Buddhism

    Abraham Lincoln is an intelligent and often quoted, but modern psychology didn't exist in his times as it does now, so no, "We are" not "as happy as we decide to be." Any first-year psychology student could have told you that.

    According to Buddhism, happiness is within. Other than physical harm or mental/verbal abuse, no one can make you unhappy, you chose to be unhappy. So if you don't look happy it is other people's problems if they "become" unhappy. No one made them, they chose that. Some saying "Nice" haircut might make you happy, but "You look good today" could be interrupted as "What, I didn't look yesterday." It's all in the interpretation.

    Thank you for Mr. PragerU as I have enjoyed almost all of the videos on your channel, but this is one of the two that I couldn't agree with, so far.

  36. I agree with this, however, Video is definitely for someone who has their stuff together. If you basically have a balanced life, job with decent pay, moderate level of family problems, and healthy balance of diet and exercise.

  37. "Being happy is a moral obligation" Tell that to all the people (and there are a TON of them) who suffer from depression or have other mental issues.

  38. This is a really good video and I can see why he makes this argument. It would be better if we all tried to be happy. But the truth Prager God doesn't exist, there is no heaven after death. I'll be happy when my life changes and I have true success. I've tried what you've suggested, you can't fake it forever.

  39. I thought the key to panddoras box was something else. So it's change of Mood by action. Wow. Thank you.

  40. The fact that this video exists demonstrates a desire, on the part of some, to be unhappy. I would like to see that explored: Why do I find myself wanting to wallow in unhappiness? I don't know, but I do. Could understanding why I do that be the key to deciding to change?

  41. PSA: please don't share this with an actually depressed friend. It can exacerbate their feelings of guilt and being a burden.

  42. I'm so glad I watched this video. it makes so much sense to me, having a moral obligation to be happy .

  43. America is when you need to chase happiness.
    Europe is when you can have peace.



  44. If you are happy, act happy.
    If you are sad, act neutral.
    No need to be fake and act happily if you are in depression.
    You have a moral obligation to be genuine, as well as to not bring others down.
    Secure your own life-jacket before helping others.

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