The Definition of Happiness


Interview: Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dennis Prager

Unexpectedly emotional. This was a special evening with Dr Jordan B Peterson at the PragerU summit. I hope you watch it!

Posted by Dennis Prager on Friday, May 24, 2019
PragerU Summit 2019, Dennis Prager and Dr. Jordan Peterson

It is weird to think that

humans can not only define happiness but can actually experience it in various forms. On a psychological level, it is important for humans to recognize happiness and contrast it with tragedy, because happiness is never guaranteed. In order to truly recognize goodness, one must truly recognize evil, and one can only recognize evil when they understand their own potential capacity to carry out that evil. Fortunately, happiness is just a bit simpler than this good and evil contrast.

Holding a tragic view of life

is essential to finding true happiness. At the recent PragerU Summit, Dennis Prager sat down with Dr. Jordan Peterson and discussed this very idea. Anyone that knows anything about either of these two men should know that they do not waste words and cherish clarity of thought. In the above video, Dennis and Jordan discuss the value of holding a tragic view of life and conclude that the default in life is tragedy. We often enough avoid tragedy but the it could always be worse cliche is not really enough to summarize this idea.

“You can’t discover what you’re capable of being or withstanding . . . if you hide away from any of the things in life that are terrible but true. And the reason you can’t discover who you are without doing that is that only necessity will force that out of you. And I mean that . . . from the perspective of learning.”


-Jordan Peterson

Learning new things

is biologically beneficial for our minds. It might be difficult for one person to gain employment due to social anxiety, while it might be difficult for another person to quit drinking alcohol. The importance is lies in the difficulty of the challenge in relation to the individual.

In his Future Authoring Program and in many of his lectures accessible on YouTube, Peterson touches on this. In How To Stop Procrastinating, he speaks about the benefits of setting a vision for one’s life. The goals that build up to that vision produce physiological rewards when they are achieved. The goal setter learns new skills, and these new skills create connections in the brain. Experiencing new and challenging things creates these pathways and connections, and these connections and pathways will not form without new and challenging experiences.

Happiness takes courage

and a tragic view of life makes for a happy person. There is a need to be strategic when challenges come because challenges will lead to a journey. The journey is never one size fits all. Every journey will produce some discomfort and will require some level of action from the individual, but every journey will ultimately produce learning.

If happiness is the default then there is no need for courage. After all, there will be no journey without a challenge. Relying on happiness to be the default will lead to disappointment and despair because by default, life is tragic. It takes courage to journey and courage to challenge oneself. Recognizing that life is tragic is essential for the journey through life, and the journey through life ultimately reveals just how courageous one could be.