Happiness Level 1:
The first and most basic level of happiness comes from things outside ourselves and involve one or more of the five senses. The pleasure they give is immediate and direct such as eating an ice cream cone, buying a brand new car, going on vacation. Their pleasure is short lived and intermittent. They must be replaced by yet another ice cream cone, or new car, or vacation. Until such replacements take place our happiness is on hold.
Happiness Level 2:
The second level of happiness involves the ego. (Ego is Latin for I) This kind of happiness comes whenever I am in control, the focus of attention, the object of admiration, whenever I see myself as superior to others. Hence, whenever I win, gain power, am admired, or gain popularity I feel happy and pleased with myself. My ego has been affirmed. That which I think is the most important thing in the world (me) has received approval.
Happiness Level 3:
The second level of happiness is not totally satisfying. There is something missing. Humans also desire love, truth, goodness/justice, beauty, and being. These desires are often expressed in acts of charity—seeking cures, being concerned with one’s neighbor, making sacrifices, forgiving personal injuries. We want to make the world a better place and so we offer our lives, time, energy, and talent for the welfare of others. Our happiness, we learn, cannot be separated from the happiness of others. The common good is an integral part of our personal happiness.
Happiness Level 4:
Even the third level of happiness does not exhaust the scope of human desire. Humans are pulled by their desire for the sublime, something beyond their imagination, beyond their complete understanding. To be sure, they desire love, goodness, truth, beauty, and being as they experience them in the world; but they also desire these in their perfected and unlimited form. Those of faith recognize this as their desire for God. For those having no faith, they can treat this as an awareness of a seemingly unconditional horizon surrounding human curiosity, creativity, spirit, and achievement.