Scallywag

It is by believing in roses that one brings them to bloom.

~ French Proverb ~

Define Happiness

May 19th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 23 secs

What is happiness?

What is happiness?

I talked to a lady called CJ today from Tennessee who asked me to define happiness. It was a Twitter conversation so comments had to fit in 140 character bites. Yet the way she enquired surprised me.

CJ’s rationale for wanting happiness defined came from her feeling it was passing her by. So, I wondered, does she want to pinpoint what she is missing? Or, is it about confirming what happiness is to check it against her own perception?

I tend to tread carefully around the definition of happiness. Superficially, it seems easy to describe with synonyms like:

  • Enjoyment
  • Bliss
  • Exhilaration
  • Satisfaction, and
  • Delight.

While, Dictionary.com defines happiness as “the state of being happy “(which isn’t much help), or, “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; [and] joy”.

The trouble with these terms is that they skirt around the edges of happiness. Ultimately, it’s very much up to us as to what brings us to that gratified state.

CJ also happened to ask the same about joy and love (the latter being famously hard to define), which, I suggested, wasn’t especially helpful. It’s not that a good explanation isn’t of benefit. It’s just that well-meaning blanket definitions can limit our understandings.

When we get caught up in a logic driven world where everything has to be categorized and defined, items and ideas are ordered to make sense. It stems from our desire to control after all. So it’s natural to want to classify. Except that some aspects of life don’t fit those categories very well. That magnificent trio we call happiness, beauty, and love, don’t slot into simple definitions neatly because their very nature is open-ended and infinite.

Our need to pin things down therefore is unintentionally at odds with the limitless. While, happiness is always going to sit a little awkwardly in anything normally regarded as a serious category.

Like CJ, we want to know what happiness is to verify our own experience, gauge it, and then work out how to get it. In a modern way, we treat happiness like a product, and that’s where the trouble starts.

Happiness, like love and beauty, are sometimes easier to see by their absence. Their nebulous nature, like curling wisps of smoke, change endlessly, remaining beyond our utmost expressions to delineate.

Besides, happiness is enjoyed best as a luscious byproduct of living life well. And what is living well? When character is put into practice and we dedicate ourselves to finding and fulfilling our personal meaning. That’s when happiness blossoms and satisfaction lasts.

I couldn’t say all of that in a tweet. Instead, I invited CJ to read some posts and my book for herself (as it shows in clear terms how you can have happiness in your own life).

Whatever happiness is for you, it deserves thought. As a daily gauge of how well you are doing (over and above aspects like financial success, approval, and control) happiness says it best. Some say you can have it all in life. But if you aren’t happy, what’s the point?

Some may think that’s terribly fickle and it would be, if happiness was based on kicks and the endless hunt for gratification. But when it comes to being true to your self and finding fulfillment, happiness is “serious”. So much so that no definition will do it justice other than your own.

Bite Sized Quotes About Happiness

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Can Happiness And Chaos Co-exist?

Feegs

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