The 4 Levels of Happiness

How do we define happiness on earth? Is it determined by how much money we accumulate or by how physically attractive we appear to others? Does it have something to do with how happy we appear on social media? Not at all. There is a fundamental difference between the emotional response of giddiness and the state of pure happiness. While we cannot attain perfect happiness on earth, we are capable of curating our lives so that we are undeniably rooted to our reality through God, and that brings us joy.

Recently on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie took a look at a book by Father Robert Spitzer titled Finding True Happiness. In it, Father Robert unpacks the four types of happiness that we will experience in our lives, and how to prioritize them.

Timmerie began by saying that these four levels are directly correlated to the nature of our desires. The base level, the most rudimentary, is linked to our physical desires. For example, we get hungry at different times throughout the day. Our base, physical desire sends a message to our brain explaining that we want food. Once we consume food, our hunger is satisfied to a degree. But after a few hours, we are hungry again. We need more fuel.

The next level of desire and happiness is contextualized by our ego. This level encompasses all of the things we want to accomplish, our competitive spirit, our drive to win and conquer, and our desire to look better. This desire, while it can become perverted and changed, is, at its core, a good thing. It gives us drive and ambition to accomplish good things. We need to be careful that we do not lose control of our pride and let it rule our decisions.

The third level of happiness is based on what is known as our contributive desire. Our contributive desire is what drives us to not only want to accomplish things or satisfy our physical wants, but it pushes us to give of ourselves in a way that benefits others. By giving our time, money, or efforts, we derive happiness by knowing that others are being helped in some way. “This is a contributive dimension where we feel good when we do good by others,” said Timmerie.

The final and highest level of happiness is oriented around our desire for perfection. The only perfect being that we know of is God, so ultimately, our desire for perfection is a desire to imitate Christ. However, we often don’t make it to this level because we have stopped short at our previous desires. Now, while those previous desires are innately good, part of the process of growth is to eventually resolve that we desire to be like Christ. We should understand that we will always be imperfect sinners on earth, but this isn’t some exercise in futility. By working towards that insurmountable height on a regular basis, we climb higher than we ever thought we could.

Timmerie went on, saying that the biggest and easiest pitfall we encounter (sometimes daily) is the desire for physical satisfaction. We become overstimulated by the distractions around us like food, drink, entertainment, and comfort that we never address the larger things in life. However, this doesn’t mean that we should ignore our desires. Part of the key to maintaining these levels of happiness, as well as combatting sorrow, is to take opportunities to feed them in moderation. If we are undergoing difficulty at our job, it’s not unnatural to kick back with a drink and a good book after work. We need rest and reflection to give us the energy to pursue the higher levels of happiness, otherwise we’ll burn out.

Listen to the full talk below:

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.