Addressing happiness is always a difficult challenge. The experts who took part in our event last Thursday at the Roma Tre University were faced with the complexity of defining the term because it is ambiguous, broad, and often even paradoxical.
Professor Antonio Petagine (Università Roma Tre) said that we all want happiness, we all seek it, and we all long for it, but we do not always obtain it, and on many occasions, this impossibility of finding it is due to the fact that we fall into the error of giving it a hedonistic meaning, seeking our own satisfaction. But this attitude leaves an emptiness that rarely makes us happy.
Given the thousands of suicides and the high consumption of antidepressants, Professor Vinicio Busacchi (Università de Cagliari) suggested turning to philosophical reflection to discover those situations that make our lives unhappy and try to improve them. “Philosophy can help us understand the meaning of life and become a school of life,” said Busacchi, recalling the title of a famous essay by Lou Marinoff entitled “More Plato and less Prozac.”
And then, the concept of relational happiness came up, when Professor Nicola di Stefano (CNR Roma) explained that Aristotle said that, among other things, happiness depends on the number of friends one has and the quality of that friendship. Can our happiness depend on the environment around us? Is the home the first place to find happiness because it is the first place where we relate to others? The home is a test bed, a private place, where we feel protected, it is a nest,” Di Stefano stressed.
Ambassador Roberto Rossi, author of “Aristotele: l’arte di vivere. Fondamenti e pratica dell’etica aristotelica come via alla felicità” (FrancoAngeli, 2018), recalled that happiness is not a moment in life, but a constant state of the soul, a concatenation of actions that help us to find the ultimate goal of life, happiness. Aristotle insisted that happiness is identified with the good life, i.e. the virtuous life. The “recipe” is therefore to try to seek the best possible good in everything we do, unselfishly.
As the editor of the book ‘Happiness and Domestic Life‘, Professor and Philosopher Maria Teresa Russo, explained, the question we have to ask ourselves is: what home for what happiness? Because we can understand the home as a refuge or, conversely, as a place of conflict and happiness as well-being in a material sense. On the other hand, the home is that physical place where we live, think and love: where we guard our own intimacy and define our identity. A complex but unitary system, where happiness is taking care of each other, disinterestedly.