Everyone wants to be happy, right? It’s a silly question, of course, everyone wants to be happy. But, there is a lot of confusion and lack of clarity when it comes to what is happiness?

Fr Robert Spitzer builds on Aristotle and many other thinkers to explain the four levels of happiness.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 4 levels:

  1. Physical/Instant Gratification – Happiness in a thing that is usually short lived. Think of the pleasure of eating food.

  2. Comparative Advantage. Happiness from comparing ourselves to others, “I have more than….” or “I am better at this than…”

  3. Contribution/Legacy – Happiness from seeing the good in others and doing the good for others. Very ‘other-focused.’

  4. Transcendental – Spitzer admits this is the hardest to describe but it’s the desire for the perfection of happiness in all of us – the fullness of goodness, beauty, truth, and love.

To simplify – we look for happiness in physical pleasures (#1), in being better than other people (#2), in helping other people (#3), and in participating in ultimate perfection (#4).

According to Spitzer, 70% of our country doesn’t make it past #1 or #2. That means, 70% of people are seeking happiness in fleeting physical pleasure, and in comparison to others. It’s no wonder that so many in our country aren’t happy.

So, what do we do? Well, the key is moving from #1 and #2 to #3 and #4. Spitzer has a lot more to say about this, but we’re going to focus on a few ideas.

We must ask ourselves, “Where can we make the optimal positive difference? Where can we have the biggest and most positive effect?

How can we be a positive force for those around us, our family and friends? The institutions we are a part of? The community or culture? And, finally the Church?

It ultimately comes down to moving away from self-centered and toward other-centered, and ultimately God-centered.

Be the Men.

Father Spitzer writes and speaks on this topic a good amount, but if you want to see more, in his own words, check out this article here.

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