Some people think that love desires to create happiness, whether in ourselves or others.
I believe this is true, but that to understand it we need a more complex explanation of what those words really mean. What is happiness? Is it pleasure of the senses? Good food, good music, good sex, etc., and what makes these things “good” is determined by the pleasure they give us? I doubt it. All of these things can play a role in making us happy, but really, would philosophers have debated for centuries what happiness really is if it were that simple (Maybe. Philosophers do tend to miss the forest for the trees sometimes)?
Let me propose something different. Happiness is a mental feeling. For example, when you have a really exciting day planned, full of doing all the things you love to do, and you wake up in the morning looking forward to it, the very act of imagining the pleasure the day will give you can be enough to make you feel happy.
But why is that? Why does imagining have such power when we tend to think it pales in comparison to the real thing?
My answer: Certainty. If we are worried that tons of things will go wrong in our day, and prevent us from being able to do those things we love to do, it’s because we are uncertain that it will in fact happen the way we want, and so imagining isn’t enough to create the happiness.
I therefore propose that happiness is, in fact, certainty. But of what? Of fulfillment. Every one of us (I imagine) has specific things we would like to be present in our lives, because we feel, at our very core, that those things are somehow right. In other words, we all feel like we have things we need, whether material, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. Happiness, in this view, is certainty that we do in fact have those things: certainty that we have everything we need. Such certainty erases longings, stresses, worries, angers, and what have you.
So what happens if we have more than we need? Or rather, what happens when we feel that not only do we have what need, but that we have what need in an unending abundance? That I call joy. It is happiness above and beyond itself.
Love, I believe, seeks to create as much joy as possible. Thus, for love to succeed, we are required to know (or feel, deeply) not what others desire, but what they need. To love well, we need to attune ourselves to the deep and sincere longings of others, and seek to alleviate those longings.