Happiness can be traced back to China, India and Greece nearly 2,500 years ago with Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, and Aristotle. We can find remarkable similarities between the thoughts of these thinkers and the modern “Science of Happiness.”
Christian philosophy often turned to blessedness to describe happiness. During the Enlightenment, positive affect and pleasure became valued as basic rights (and it was here that the groundwork was laid for the construction of social architecture that enabled one to pursue happiness).
In East Asian religion and philosophy, Confucianism and Daoism concluded that the way to a life of fulfilment and joy was based on “the way”. Living with a sense of belonging to thing greater than us. Confucius’ notion of joy was not an emotion or attainment of material objects, but an “ethical response to features of the world”.
Aristotle used the word eudaimonia to describe happiness as an experience of the good life through virtuous action. To Herodotus, the happiness known as eudaimonia implied possession of a guiding spirit, or “daimon”. We could think of this as our conscience – though today most people don’t associate conscientious action with happiness.