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Forum – Happiness & Fulfillment

The Humanist Association of Toronto

Every Saturday we meet to discuss a topic decided upon the previous week. These are topics of humanist interest, from a humanist perspective.

The topic of the discussion will be decided in a prior meeting, usually two weeks in advance. This week’s topic is: “Happiness & Fulfillment” by HAT member Bohdan Krucko. Join us, won’t you?
A We start by stating that Happiness, according to a Stanford Encyclopedia article, is:

a) a momentary pleasant experience
b) a positive emotional condition as a whole, the opposite of depression
c) a positive review of life satisfaction as a whole, especially as Aristotle maintained, at the end of life (Eudaimonia).

B Focusing Question for today: What are the CAUSES of unhappiness?
Developmental psychologists (Maslow, Erickson, have suggested that the LACK of the following NEED satisfactions can lead to unhappiness:

1. Lack of satisfaction of BASIC needs of security, shelter, safety, food, reproduction, health and sufficient income. Also, it is suggested that genetics and chemical imbalances can make one susceptible to depression.

2. Lack of AFFILIATION: lack of family support and nurturing, lack of sustained relationships, friendships, intimacy, social affirmation and lack of social and institutional support can lead to lack of fulfillment.

3. A lack of challenging and progressive learning and engaged and creative ACHIEVEMENT ,and recognition/respect leading to self-esteem, confidence and a sense of efficacy and identity confirmation.

4. A lack of self ACTUALIZATION, a sense of autonomy, meaningful and purposeful expression within a workspace, community and other societal institutions.

C Further Issues and Questions:

1. Is there a greater sense of narcissism, self-centredness, complacency, loneliness, single living and a declining number of institutions and institutional support leading to unhappiness? If so, what are the causes of these phenomena?

2. Society no longer has a shared belief system and explanatory framework, leading to a meaning crisis, relativism, anxiety, and possible lack of sharing and connectivity. Some find this liberating. Is this problematic and if so, what can be done about it?

3. Opioid and other addictions suggest a lack of control, proper ordering of life and desires. Is consumerism somewhat to blame or are needs not being met and compensated for? Can a more stoical acceptance of self and reality, a mental reframing and lowering of expectations be a solution? Would more formal virtue cultivation help?

Which of the above concerns do you find more critical and worthy of attention? In what ways can they be addressed? Can you think of other factors leading to a general sense of societal unhappiness?
On the other hand, is the sketch above too critical of society and in need of a positive reframing? Can you think of instances of happiness, resilience, fortitude and courage in our current health crisis and social problematic? Granted, Canada placed quite high globally with its freedoms, living conditions and qualities in the Happiness Index. All is relative.

Meet our diverse group, trade perspectives in a free and open forum and learn from others as they learn from you!

BTW: don’t be concerned if there are not many RSVP’s. Many HAT members attend regularly but don’t sign up on Meetup. Our online meetings have been very popular with 20-30 attendees.

NOTE: The HAT Forum adheres strictly to the City of Toronto Policy on Non-Discrimination (

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