Skip to content
Sign up for monthly email updates of faith and science articles from Magis Center!
a group of friends with their arms around each other.
Magis CenterSeptember 29, 20232 min read

The Secret to Happiness: Living for Others

In the video below, Father Spitzer discusses level 3 happiness, which is, in essence, living for others. We all desire happiness. We want our lives to have some significance in the world. In many regards, this desire for happiness almost seems innate. We are not content if our lives don’t do anything for anybody beyond ourselves.

Click to download the 4 Levels of Happiness Fact Sheet!Discover the breakdown of all Four Levels of Happiness with this download.

Level 3 Happiness is Living for Others

Level 3 happiness lies in the desire to make a positive difference to something or someone beyond ourselves. This happiness can manifest through living for others in our family and making contributions to our communities, church, workplace, or even strangers. The more we live for others, acting from either self-sacrifice or even altruism, there is fulfillment to be found.

Level 1 and 2 Happiness are not Living for Others

Unlike level 3 happiness, which focuses on living for others, level 1 happiness pertains to things in life that give us short bouts of pleasure. Level 1 happiness can be found when we feel something good and then say we feel “happy.” When we eat a fantastic meal or go on a fun trip, these things produce a temporary feeling of happiness. Level 1 happiness cannot be found by living through others because it only lasts as long as the object of our happiness is producing an effect.

Level 2 happiness is also not found by living through others. Instead, it is found in a relative sense. This means that when we have more than another person, we may say that we feel a sense of “happiness” or short fulfillment because the thing we have more of is pleasurable. Level 2 happiness could be found when a person who was competing with a coworker for a raise comes out triumphant. In essence, Level 2 happiness is the antithesis of living through others.

Living for Others and Victor Frankl

Father Spitzer also discusses Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and how, in the German concentration camps of World War II, he found meaning despite immense suffering by living for others.

Click to download The story of a Holocaust Survivor.Read the captivating story of Hans Polk.

Victor Frankl found that while some prisoners were living through level 2 happiness and despairing at their suffering and misfortune, the prisoners who were living for others obtained level 3 happiness, many of whom eventually were liberated.

By living for others, the level 3 prisoners were able to find profound leadership and meaning despite their inordinate suffering, showing that making contributions to the world can tackle even the darkest of situations. 



Magis Center

The mission of the Magis Center is to create content that helps people find higher purpose in life, an awareness of their transcendent dignity, a sense of the transcendent providential power who guides them, and a determination to live ethically responsible lives. To that end, the Magis Center produces and distributes media that provides contemporary commentary on timeless topics.