A thought I've explained before is the idea that we define things apart from us. An example of this would be the tree that falls in the middle of a forest and the resulting crash. Does it make a sound in the absence of ears, or does sound only exist in the presence of ears? Can things exist outside of our observation? I understand that this is a discussion that's greater than me and anything I could ever dream to write about accurately. But, it's also a discussion I want to first have with myself, then with you.
First, let's tie this analogy with my idea of happiness, or true happiness. First, I assume that there is such a thing as true happiness; though, the analogy suggests that there is such a thing. We all tend to think of happiness as an experience, a feeling. If we're Winnie the Pooh, the red balloon causes us to feel happy. Cheesecake causes me to experience happiness, just in the same way that a falling tree would cause us to hear it, if we were there. But, that would also mean that happiness exists around the red balloon before Pooh knows of it, and that happiness surrounds cheesecake, even if I'm not there to eat it.
It might be useful to look at another argument for happiness to exist without a recipient. The word "happiness" is meant to describe a meaning, or the sign, of something positive that evokes emotion. But what gives "happiness" its value, or meaning? It must come from our own experience, in which happiness is contrasted with sadness. At any given moment, we're either happy or sad, content or discontent, pleased or annoyed. But, more than just our personal experiences with happiness, it's also a shared experience. It's something that all people have experienced and therefore can understand if communicated to them.
So, we can say that happiness definitely exists within people, but, in this, there is an assumption made: happiness can mean different things. The idea that a signal can communicate more than one sign is well known by everybody. For example, my sister and I once had a huge argument over chores. As the oldest sibling, I was asked to get everybody to clean up the house. I remember telling Kajsa to do the laundry. After a few hours, I noticed that she was doing something else, (probably napping). I asked her why she didn't listen to me, and she said that she did listen, she just didn't obey. When I used the word "listen," obedience was implied, but not communicated. She interpreted my word for listen to simply mean "audibly hear," and maybe even understand, those words. There's a certain amount of play between the word and the meaning of the word.
Going back to the analogy of the tree in the forest, where we deal with the word "sound," we again have two different meanings for the same word: a thing that's heard and a thing that's caused. There's that wiggle room in between the word and the definitions. What does this suggest?
I think a structuralist would say that there's an infinite amount of meaning within the play of words. It also suggests that the meaning, the idea that's trying to be communicated, is a fixed definition or a fixed point, but the sign attached to it is imperfect in completely describing the definition.
Now, I feel like I made a logical leap from what words are to the idea that the definition is a fixed point. But, I think that's an assumption we all tend to build off of as a society, especially in the maths and sciences. "1+1=2" is a fixed definition in that it doesn't change. One plus one will never equal three or four, because the definitions for addition are fixed in what's called the commutative law (thanks, high school algebra).
If your brain kind of hurts, don't worry! Mine hurts as well. If it doesn't hurt…you can probably explain to me these ideas better than I can (you can also probably explain to me how I'm misrepresenting certain theories). But this is a good spot to conclude on for now. In an attempt to build the argument for happiness, I was hung up on the idea of its existence apart from people, which brought me to how all ideas, or definitions, are separate from people. For example, the commutative laws of addition and multiplication.