The essence of the four levels of happiness is based on the timeless principles that go back to Aristotle who said that happiness is what we want in ourselves and everything in it is desirable for happiness.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle (394-322 B.C.) observed that no one likes to be intentionally dissatisfied. So why do people go in search of happiness? Why aren’t they always happy? More than anyone else, Aristotle defined happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal within oneself.
This philosopher is one of the greatest thinkers in the history of Western science and philosophy. He contributed to logic, physics, biology, botany, metaphysics, mathematics, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance, and theatre. He was a student of Plato.
The Greek word that is commonly translated as “happiness” is eudaimonia and can be as confusing as most translations of ancient languages. The main problem is that happiness is often imagined as the content of the mind. In the case of Aristotle, however, happiness is the ultimate goal, which includes the totality of one’s life. He described 4 levels of happiness. The names are in Latin.
Let’s know Aristotle distinguished between 4 different levels of happiness are include:
Happiness level 1: Laetus (Immediate happiness gained from material objects):
Happiness in the first level is about sensual satisfaction based only on things / external things. It is a thing. Thus, “I feel like to eat chocolate, ice-cream and I ate some of them, it makes me feel good, I am happy.” This kind of happiness is based on something external to the self, is short-lived, and, reflective, we do not consider that it is all there is to human happiness. It is external in nature.
Level 1 is not inherently bad, we all need to satisfy those initial pleasures like food and drink but if we get stuck in level 1 then our life becomes a roller coaster to constantly fulfill our next desire. I don’t have much time to get hungry after eating. I don’t have much time to get hungry after eating.
Happiness level 2: Felix (Ego Gratification, Achievements):
This happiness comes from comparison: to be better, to be better than others, to be more admired than others, etc. You get this award when you will get the highest score, you get this medal when you will marry the most sought after person, you get this kind of happiness when you will get promoted to a job. Everyone likes to get admire and win. It depends on how much winning power a person has. For some it is all, for others, it is a very little and short-term pleasure.
Happiness is seen in the rush of uninterrupted comparison with other people because very few people can always win in all domains of life. In case of failure, focusing too much on this level can lead to feelings of frustration and irrelevance. Excessive focus on comparisons and self-promotion leads to risky situations against people around you and to self-exploitation, violence, pessimism, and oppression of others.
This level of happiness is related to pride. The ego is an organized part of the personality structure that includes protective, conceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and functional functions. Conscious awareness resides in the ego although not all the activities of the ego are conscious.
Happiness level 3: Beatitudo (contributive):
This level of happiness is based on people’s desire for connection, well-being, money, empathy, friendship, and unity. Some summed it up: “Love!”
At this level, we move away from ourselves to focus on the welfare of others. In short, our own happiness depends on the happiness of others.
Level 3 happiness lasts longer and provides a deeper sense of meaning than levels 1 and 2 for most people.
The limit of level 3 happiness is human imperfection. No one is perfect and human relationships involve frustration, violence, and the risk of injury. It’s part of life.
Happiness level 4: Sublime Beatitudo (Ultimate, Perfect Happiness) :
This is the ultimate happiness, this is the perfect happiness. This 4th level of happiness is the most difficult to describe. It involves a search for completeness and fulfillment. It works with finding the right balance between the other levels of happiness i.e. levels one, two, and three. Psychologists have identified this desire for ultimate happiness as a call to connect with the larger universe. This happiness is philosophical in nature. It has a lot to do with an individual perspective. It’s past. When we realize that some things should be let go and some things will be taken care of by universal power then we realize that we cannot control everything. We begin to search for the beauty, truth, righteousness, and love of nature, in the small things around us.
Some fulfill this aspiration through spirituality or religion, others through philosophy, art, or scientific endeavors to find answers to some of the biggest questions about life, human existence, and the universe. The truth is that there is no final or universal answer. Of course, you have to find your own calling! This happiness is related to a super-ego.
Read more: What are the four levels of happiness?