How do people reawaken happiness

Adventure society

Thomas Müller-Schneider

To person

Dr. rer. pole. habil., born in 1961; Private lecturer at the University of Bamberg.


address: Herzog-Max-Strasse 38, 96047 Bamberg.

Publications inter alia: subject-related inequality. A paradigm for analyzing the social structure of post-industrial societies, in: P.A.Berger / M. Vester (Ed.), "Old" and "New" Inequalities in Post-Industrial Societies, Opladen 1998.

Never before have so many people set out so intensely in search of immediate experiences of happiness. In this respect we live today in an "adventure society".

I. Introduction

Anyone who deals with the subject of "happiness" must ask what is actually meant by it. Opinions have always differed widely about what happiness is and how it can be achieved. The psychologist Paul Watzlawick even takes the view that happiness cannot be defined in principle [1]. But then you couldn't say anything more relevant, and every attempt at communication would get lost in the labyrinth of arbitrariness. It is all the more astonishing that there are universal signs of happiness that are clearly written on people's faces and that are understood across all cultural boundaries. Thus, an Indian can easily read from the facial expression of a German whether he is happy or not [2]. It therefore makes sense to regard happiness as an inner state that "fits" these outer signs and is very similar in all people. It is a beautiful feeling that resonates in many terms from its immediate context: joy, pleasure, lust, harmony, bliss or satisfaction.


The fact that people strive for happiness is not a culture-specific phenomenon, but an anthropological constant. There is broad agreement on this. Aristotle already knew: "All people want to be happy." Nevertheless, the topic of happiness is currently more present than ever before. Despite mass unemployment, social inequality, national debt and the fear of ecological catastrophes, one constantly encounters it in magazines, relevant book publications, everyday conversations and on television - almost notoriously on talk shows. Never have so many people set out so intensively in search of immediate experiences of happiness as they do today - and in this respect we live in an "adventure society" [3]. This is the subject of the following article, whereby the concept of happiness on which it is based is presented first. Then it is about the possibilities of the search for happiness that individuals in the adventure society can use. Then the question is examined whether the current concept of happiness is successful and actually brings the desired increase in experienced happiness. Finally, various aspects of future development are addressed that result from the present analysis.