What does Happiness mean to you?
I was surprised, (in a good way) when I posted this question to my Facebook page, at the answers I received.
Happiness is very specific and exclusive to each individual. Not once did I receive the same answer. Similar responses yes, but no two exact definitions.
I think this is intriguing.
According to Wikipedia:
“Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being.”
So in other words, Happiness comes from within (well at least that’s how I perceived the definition).
I am reading The Book of Joy and here are a few passages from the Dalai Lama about happiness:
“I believe that the purpose of life is to find happiness. It does not matter whether one is a Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop, or any other religion, or no religion at all. From the moment of birth, every human being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering.”
“The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status. Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people. Power and money fail to bring inner peace. Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.”
“We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”
The above passages and the answers I received on my Facebook post gave me an inner look at what drives people. Because according to the Dalai Lama, Happiness is something we set out to attain from the first day we are alive. So much of our life, we aspire to be happy. And not this fake bravado we can express outwardly or with materialistic objects; this is an inner peace and joy that only each individual can choose to experience.
Here are a few good answers I received on my post:
(I will leave names off for privacy purposes)
“Happiness is not an emotion you feel. It’s a decision you make. You can choose to be happy in life no matter what is going on, or you can choose not to. The choice is yours.”
“Joy is an outward expression of an inward state of being, whereas happiness is a temporary and fleeting emotional experience. I believe that you can fool someone into thinking you are happy, but you can’t fool people about your joy.”
“Happiness to me means being content with what you have and where you are in life. Not constantly wanting more material things, cooler car, etc. Happiness is living in the current moment and appreciating today for the good or accepting that the bad could be something to learn and grow from.”
“Happiness, or joy, is not from something you get. Not from attaining a goal or how others view you. It is a choice. You can be happy and find joy in every second, or moment or event just in a thought.”
“Happiness is the pathway to discovering that we are all perfectly imperfect which provides us with the gift to understand lasting joy. Joy will look different for everyone but remain unaffected by temporary circumstances.”
“Happiness is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want. It’s basically freedom or a state of euphoria.”
“Happiness is a state of mind. It can be an “in the moment” type feeling such as joy. But it can be an overall feeling that lasts longer as well.”
“Feeling a balance with the emotions of life equals happiness. Although everyday will not be happy and jubilous, the same holds true for sadness and tribulations. If we have the patience and balance, nothing can rock us one way or the other. Balance, that’s where happiness lives.”
I have a good friend and client; his name is Bob. Bob is 85 years young. I started discussing this topic with him because I really wanted his perspective as he has been through 8 ½ decades of life.
Here is his answer:
“Happiness to me is a philosophy. We are all going to feel sad and have tough times in life, but when your personal philosophy is happiness, you will slide back into a happy state. Some people build themselves into unhappy people. And some people decide to be happy no matter what they face. It’s a philosophy.”
The answer makes sense and one I agree with. Bob is a wise man who continues to learn and grow as an individual and I learn from him everyday I am with him.
With that said, here is my answer…
Happiness can come from achievement, from accomplishing a goal or doing well in a particular subject or activity. Happiness is being healthy and vibrant. Happiness is being surrounded with positive and encouraging people. The type of people you can trust and totally be yourself around. Happiness is having positive relationships. Happiness is being with my family. Happiness is having fun, being spontaneous and taking advantage of the day. Happiness is less worry and more smiling. Happiness is nurturing your soul and believing in oneself. Without faith, I’m not sure you can be happy. Happiness to me, is living an optimistic life; to see the good; to pick yourself up when times are tough; to really be grateful for the life we get to live.
Now I believe the above things need to be consistent. Action is required to sustain this happy state. I don’t think you can just cross your fingers and hope to be happy. Just like the Dalai Lama said above, “When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”
We can make it a point to exercise. We can get around the positive people. We can read the positive books. We can pray or go to church or meditate, whatever works for you. We can build our relationships. We can continue to put ourselves in a happy state. To me, this will create this “happy philosophy”, which then turns into a habitual state of being, which then turns into internal happiness.