“How can I be happy?” Narrated by Stephen Fry – That’s Humanism!

“How can I be happy?” Narrated by Stephen Fry – That’s Humanism!


Some people believe that there is one single
‘meaning of life’. They think that the universe was created for
a purpose and that human beings are part of some larger cosmic plan. They think our meaning
comes from being part of this plan and is written into the universe waiting to be discovered. A humanist view of meaning in life is different. Humanists do not see that there is any obvious
purpose to the universe, but that it is a natural phenomenon with no design behind it.
Meaning is not something out there waiting to be discovered, but something that we create
in our own lives. And although this vast and incredibly old
universe was not created for us, all of us are connected to something bigger than ourselves,
whether it is family and community, a tradition stretching into the past, an idea or cause
looking forward to the future, or the beautiful wider natural world on which we were born
and our species evolved. This way of thinking means that there is not
just one big ‘meaning of life’ but that every person will have many different meanings in
their life. Each one of us is unique and our different
personalities depend on a complex mixture of influences from our parents, our environment
and our connections. They change with experience and changing circumstances. There are no simple recipes for living that
are applicable to all people. We have different tastes and preferences, different priorities
and goals. One person may like drawing, walking in the
woods and caring for their grandchildren, another may like cooking, watching soap operas,
savouring a favourite wine or a new food. We may find meaning through our family, our
career, making a commitment to an artistic project or a political reform, in simple pleasures
such as gardening, in hobbies, or in a thousand other ways giving rein to our creativity or
our curiosity, our intellectual capacities or our emotional life. The time to be happy is now and the way to
find meaning in life is to get on and live it — as fully and as well as we can.

99 thoughts on ““How can I be happy?” Narrated by Stephen Fry – That’s Humanism!”

  1. Anyone who thinks the bible is our source of morality needs their head testing… just look up the punishment for rape in the bible and you'll see what I mean.

  2. Sartre and Camus said 'we need to create our own meaning', and were 2 of the most miserable men around! Happiness comes when you are not looking for it – through sacrifice, giving yourself to others, and enjoying intimacy with God as your Father in heaven. 'Lord, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.' (Augustine) 

  3. Interesting video, I actually learned a bit about humanism through psychology (sociology, but oh well).

    This video can be split into two aspects, the first part I found extremely presumptuous.  The reasoning for this is that one could be a "Humanist" and 100% theistic.  It is these sort of clandestine straw men that I find EXTREMELY vexing.

    Humanism really is more of an ideology (one that I actually follow and largely believe).  To think that it is somehow limited to a specific group (I don't think you believe this, but some absolutely do) is absolute nonsense.  This video subversively is attempting to say, "you can't have these beliefs if you are religious".

    On the other note, it does a good job of actually explaining humanism at the end.  If only they didn't make the whole first aspect of the video……..

    For all the atheists that are likely to swarm this comment, no I'm not religious.

  4. I agree with a lot of the points that Mr. Fry makes. But I disagree that the purpose or meaning of life is found in DOING things. Rather, whatever purpose or meaning there is in our life, it is to be found in BEING. 

    Feel free to watch my own brief video explanation: What is the Purpose of Life?

  5. Rather an elegant answer really! if we all spent out time making the most of now instead of worrying about what will happen when our lives end, or what happened 1000s of years ago, life could be really rather nice

  6. Happiness comes in the abundance of small joys you feel in life, while chasing that one huge happy dream in the process. After a week full of work, when I get to calm down, go to sauna and then relax, playing some games on the computer on saturday night with a beer in hand, I'm happy.

  7. I feel that these ideas aren't exclusive to humanists, I agree mostly with what is said and I believe in God

  8. What about those who believe in something greater and still appreciate the way Humanists appreciate life eg. "walking in the woods, soap operas, family, goals, tradition"?
    I think the difference is that some people have ALL of this yet want more.

  9. Fascinating that of the 4 videos published recently by the BHA it is the one on happiness that has received over 10 times more viewings than any others on truth, morality and death.

  10. I think this is the first YT video i've seen where the subtitles actually match what's being said lol

  11. This is a popular view for affluent western atheists. But it is a tragedy when you encounter someone who truly believes this but knows they cannot generate meaning, cannot be happy. Internally-generated purpose is fragile.

  12. Seems like a good video but watching this made my mind drift into something else. Somewhere around 0:45 i started drifting away… zzzzzz

  13. @British Humanist Association I have just watched an advert of yours which clearly states that Humanism is a religion. I respectfully ask you to please either confirm or deny this statement.

  14. Caveat Emptor: This comment does not limit itself solely to the content of this particular video, so don't jump down my throat with 'he never said that here.' I'm also not limiting myself to Stephen Fry.

    The consistent irony I find in the BHA, which is highly principled in its atheism, is that classical humanism had seriously religious tones. Obviously there's the argument that Renaissance humanism simply put a religious coating on their writing in order to satisfy the mores of the time, but consideration of many of the texts, as well as biographical details of many of the writers' lives, makes that argument questionable at best. 
    I don't mean to indict or support either theism or atheism, but anti-religiosity is just as absurd a stance as religious fundamentalism. If the 'point,' so to speak, of existence is that we generate or at least determine the meaning of our experiences, there's no good in declaring anything as more or less valid than anything else. Of course religion has hurt people – it has also helped people, and the same thing can be said of secularism. I have been atheist at times, religious at others, and find myself now firmly planted in agnosticism, which is, quite frankly, the only rationally justifiable position considering that, vis a vis the divine, transcendent, ineffable, holy etc., we simply do not know. 

  15. Let's say I work in sales. Further, let's say I have two products I can sell you. Product A) is cheaper and you'll have better results or Product B) more expensive than A and not as good results. You trust me to do what I think is best. Let's also assume that both recommendations are legal. We'll also assume that Product B pays me a better commission. Product B will make me happier and you'll be a happy client. You'll get the results you want (though not as good as it could've been and you'll pay more for it…but you never know). Is this cool? 

  16. this guy was Douglas Adams's roommate …. can you imagine if Adams was alive today what kind of amazing stuff he would be putting out…. both of of them genuine modern Renaissance men

  17. I can't hear Stephen Fry's disembodied voice now without thinking of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    And maybe Little Big Planet.

    (Not that that's a bad thing…)

  18. Roger Garvin – you seem to have the correct take on this. good stuff. A great pity that more humans don't see it that way! Change the "might be" to "are" and you would be spot on!

  19. I've always found that I enjoy stabbing five year old children in the face. Usually in the left nostril. And I used to feel guilty about it, always supposing there must be some objective, transcendent standard of morality. But now that I know all values and meaning are subjective, it's like a load off my shoulders! So thanks for the inspiring words! Hedonism… Sorry, humanism
    really does make a lot more sense than the way I used to live.

  20. I consider my self a humanist, but I also have some metaphisical hunches or bets that I cant prove or disprove. I just live them the more coherent and compasive way I can. I dont believe there is a radical oposition between humanism and a tolerant and copasionate believe in a possible conection with the divine. I just dont care if others believe or not what I believe. And I know it is a believe, and that I can be wrong. To believe dosent mean to have dogmas, I just have a believe, not a dogma.   

  21. This came out today, part one and all the writing blogs before are really worthwhile too. Enjoy! http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html#comment-264387

  22. This video is the perfect response to this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-are-here-John-Blanchard/dp/1783970685/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416177808&sr=8-1&keywords=why+are+you+here

  23. Fantastic video. I am always impressed by the content and production value of information coming from the British Humanist Association.

  24. "Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishment after you are dead." — Kurt Vonnegut

  25. What absolute unadulterated horse shit. Humanist is also the Religious. The religious believe happiness is derived from everything in this video also. You create a false analogy. I must compliment you on the absolutely false analogies presentation. However. For the independent thinker. Happiness for the religious is founded in the same way. However to claim the source of that happiness under the bullshit moniker of Humanism is just wrong. To be truthful. The video should state that everyone finds happiness in the things you list. Humanism? is just the life of the religious or God believing without the religion or God. Humanism is Atheism. Not that their is anything wrong with that. 🙂

  26. Why settle for happy when you can have ecstasy? Freedom from desiring happiness or anything else for that matter, will bring you freedom from the thing that enslaves you…your mind. Life is about experience, but not needing to experience anything in particular. Being alive is simply enough.

  27. How can we be happy? In this video, Stephen Fry explains how humanists look the world around them to create meaning and values in their own lives, without need for religion.

  28. How can you be happy? I don't think it something you can obtain. It's something that you have to keep chasing your entire life. Not one human ever has been happy his or her entire life. You can be depressed by death, heartbroken or be grumpy for a day. I'd almost day it's something you have to maintain. You build it up, get to the top and then it breaks down.. and you have to build it up again. That's the way i see it. Does that make me a humanist?

  29. Perhaps, when mankind understands “The Science of Rights” may one day help humanity become happier.  
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beiwlIcOjyM

  30. How can I be happy? Sometimes someone just gives me a smile on the street, bus, at work… 🙂 and i just give one back 🙂

  31. If The Bible is right. All unbelievers when they die will end up in hell for eternity.
    If atheism is right. All will die and just disappear in thin air.
    Bottom line is ,even if you are not believing in atheism it wont cost you. but if you are not believing The Bible It will.   So let us all Stop believing in our self and start believing in Jesus. Just one life it will soon soon be past .that which is done for Christ only will last.

  32. "The universe has no intrinsic purpose. Meaning is something we create for ourselves." In other words, meaning is a fiction. We are supposed to ascribe significance to some random pattern of events in our own lives, in order to feel less oppressed by a purposeless universe. Look, if the universe is purposeless, no amount of self-deception is going to change that fact. We don't create 'meaning', we create the DELUSION of meaning because it makes us better about living in a purposeless, pointless, Godless, pitiless, indifferent universe.

  33. I love Stephen Fry. I could listen to him talk all day. I like how they put "42" next to the meaning of life. A clever reference to Douglas Adams, and the movie for which Stephen narrated. How can I be happy? Just start talking Stephen, and I will sit and listen…

  34. If all people were aware that all LAWS, whether logical-, legal-, moral-, and importantly the PHYSICAL laws are just thoughts, descriptions, immaterial tools, in other words 1)"known-about" AND 2)quite NOT existing on their own, then imho many of them (believers) would realize it, that "G-D" is just a human thought too. Everybody who reads this and is inclined to object "if there were no physical laws then the physical world would behave chaotically" is close at the verge of understanding, namely, the physical world behaves orderly, bcz it is how it is and it just does not escape its OWN NATURE, and the physical laws are just a description, a tool, which brings the aspects of the behavior of the physical world into our awareness.
    The physical laws do not exist on their own!
    All those G-Ds which were created during the history of mankind do not exist on their own!
    Purpose, meaning, intention, ZWECKI-BESTIMMUNG does not exist on its own!
    These are samt und sonders Human thoughts.

  35. Disapointed.

    I'm not atheist, or anti religeous.

    If anything, I'm agnostic in the old meaning of that word. it means " I don't know" in the original Greek.

    I have an Open mind.

    So I search Humanist in the Interweb.

    Same old Interweb, Sites with Flash adverts asking for money to see the wisdom.

    Why study humanism with a credit card when the local vicar will chat for free ?

    wiki on Humanism is a publicists wet dream.

    Unfortunately for British ( money making) Humanism, it's a mine of free information for an old school scholar like me.

    Want my support ? That's ok, just don't ask me to pay for the privalage of answering a simple question.

  36. I have a relative that's spent the last 9 years in Africa. She helped build 3 schools, got a lot of the local kids into higher education. She was part of a team that built a permanent water supply for a 300 square mile region. She's been beaten and stabbed by warlord gangs trying to scare people (for a corporation we later found out) and has also acted as part of a team to secure the release of 20 girls abducted for slavery. For all this, she received very little pay. Is this someone the Humanists would embrace as a good person?
    Or would the fact that she's a nun mean Humanists would class her as a superstitious child abuser? Binary and absolutist thinking is the domain of small minds. Don't be that person.

  37. I am not sure why a 'humanist view of life' should be, using Stephen Fry's words, 'different' from anything that is described at the beginning of this video. I have had many humanist friends and the classical definition of humanism has been that of people making up their own minds and those who are humanist embracing all their fellow human beings, whatever their views, with understanding and compassion and, hopefully, love. Isn't that what Mr AC Grayling suggests elsewhere on the web .. but then doesn't follow here … total hypocrisy …. I noticed 'humanism' isn't described here, but the BHA seems to go for something that just 'isn't' humanist and seems to caste out and despise any individuals who may have a faith and be deemed 'religious'. It seems xenophobic, divisive and hateful towaards fellow human beings. AND I've now noticed the BHA, itself a religion by any reasonable definition from those who set the standards for such things (like the Oxford English Dictionary), spends most of its time in pursuit of an Atheist cause that is quite black-shirt and fascist. A truly humanist friend of mine died a short while ago. Part of my heart went with him. I am sure he and many other true humanists would be truly shocked by the videos put out by the BHA. It makes me teriibly sad. Casting out any individuals who happen to have come to faith – people who, in my lifetime, around the planet have been the most peaceful, non-fearful, understanding and compassionate of individuals who have loved their fellow human beings – being faced with shockingly shallow comment and hate by people in the BHA who seem themselves always doleful and sad, red-faced, and on a quest to simply denigrate and mock others. Sorry guys, this is NOT humanist at all, leaving the BHA a frightful religion that will lead to further atrocities like 9/11. I know you 'love your defintiions' but total SHAME ON YOU. Stephen Fry has a quite resonable video elsewhere on the absolute atrocities of the Catholic Church – I have reasonable, if not full, agreement with that. In that video, he says individuals who come to their own conclusions and happen to find a faith should have their views respected and, in fact, says those views should, in his view, be SACROSANCT. That's not reflected here, Stephen. In fact you seem to have done a complete about face. Awful, hateful stuff …..

  38. I noticed that Mr. Fry does not include things like pedophilia, rape, murder, abandoning your spouse and children, debilitating drug use, or suicide because you see the world is a nihilistic hell hole, as options for individual meanings in life. Why do humanists discriminate against narcissists and megalomaniacs when describing a meaningful life?

  39. wow, it will be fun debunking so called "humanism"

    So the opening narrative is the religious believe there is meaning and design to life and the universe while the humanist believes there is "…no obvious purpose", "…that it's a natural phenomenon with no design behind it", "meaning is not something out there waiting to be discovered; but something that we create in our own lives"

    Wow, the irony of such a comment. Do the so called humanist know they are actually justifying religion with this logic? That if religion was something created by man to give meaning then it's exactly what the humanist believes we should do! lmao

    ..

    and yeah one person may also like being religious, now piss off so called self claimed "humanists"

  40. So what happens when it makes someone happy to kill or hurt someone else? How come we have laws against that if "happniness" is all we live for?

  41. Enjoy your life and remember that the sun and moon both are in the world so in light good times take the wow and carry into the dark hurt times; everything changes and we learn or we get stuck in rumination, worry and fear. Do your best and your being the best you is ok — it is enough; just be you to make you happy or as ok you can be..or as it does not suck that much or as much today. Peace out.

  42. There is nothing wrong with believing in whatever you want. The only thing I tell people is to not shove it down each other's throat but that's always impossible with radicalism. Oh well, at least i tried.

  43. why in the 21century are humans still dying of thirst and hunger not to mention all other curable ailments that plaugue humanity

  44. We can also be happy by making other people happy. If the people only do good to others for the rewards in the afterlife then they are not doing selflessly. Which concludes that religions make people selfish and narrow minded. Being a good person and doing good to others need nothing but a good heart. We should rather nurture good heart inside all of us than teaching mediaeval stupid supernatural practice. We would be able to make a better world by choosing what is right or what is wrong using our critical thinking ability but not using any religious dogma.

  45. The more one "appreciates"
    (loves) this paradise planet lifeboat and the miraculous works of fine art called "life" that inhabit it… the happier one is. The more one "depreciates" life with ignorance, greed and the absence of love, the more miserable one is. The rich would not be robbing and bombing the poor if they were happy. Their happiness is an illusion.

  46. That reeks of middle-class narcissism, unabashedly acknowledged as a system of values. Sure enough, this will contribute nothing to (and leave no trace in) history !

  47. God, every time I watch this, I feel like a giant weight on my shoulders has been lifted. Life becomes so simple when you stop loosing yourself in thought and just do your best NOW. Having a hard time remembering it though…

  48. The irony of strawmanning from the start about the single feature that actually distinguishes humans as such more than anything else for thousands of years. Enlightenment thinkers were more honest when they were busy emancipating new forms of machinery.

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