Sunday, October 21, 2012

What does happiness mean to you?

A few months ago, someone asked me: What does happiness mean to you?
I still don’t have a definite answer to that.
My first thought is always that it might be all the small things in life that make us happy. These things we happen to see at a usual day, like a genuine smile, or some beautiful flowers, or laughing with friends.

But isn’t this rather joy than happiness? In my opinion, it is. So, what is happiness?

Is it all these things together? Are we happy if we have a lot of joyful moments in our lives? Is happiness the ability to enjoy these moments?

Happiness seems to be a rather permanent state. When someone asks you “Are you happy?” it is usually meant “Are you satisfied with your life?” rather than “Do you feel joyful at the moment?” At least, that’s how it would be understood in German.
But can happiness really be permanent? Is that even possible? If we were in a state of permanent and infinite happiness, would we even know we were happy? To know what being happy means, we must also know the opposite.
Furthermore, humans seem to have infinite needs. Given this, can they ever be perfectly happy?
While writing this, I remember the differences between English and German. In German, there is more or the less the same translation for luck and happiness, that is “Glück”. Being happy would be translated with “glücklich sein”. But “Glück haben” means to be lucky, whereas happiness in “What does happiness mean to you?” is also translated with Glück.

If this is so closely related, does that mean happiness is something we have no influence on? Can’t we affect it at all? Does it only depend on how lucky we are?
Or is it rather a way of how we see things? Does it depend on one's ability to focus on the good things in life? Is it a combination of both?
Is there someone in this world who is perfectly happy?

However, to answer this, first there should be an idea of what happiness is. If it really is something like a permanent condition, happiness cannot be the same as joy, because joy is not permanent, provided that there are not just ups but also downs in life.

But then what is it that makes us happy? Is that different for everyone, is it totally subjective and relative? Or are there certain things in life that decide on everyone’s happiness? Is it love, friendship, family? Or success? What about money? What I always considered quite interesting is the fact that the pursuit of happiness is mentioned in the US Declaration of Independence. According to an American lecturer of a seminar I had last semester, this refers mainly to property. Clearly, for that you need to have money.
In my opinion, money can certainly make a lot of things easier and by that I mean that it helps if you have enough to be able to pay for your bills and all the necessary things in life without having to worry about it permanently. However, I would never equate money with happiness.
I really don't think you need to be rich in order to be happy. Anyway, if you had to be rich to be happy, the majority of people would never be happy and this is something I refuse to believe.

So, maybe what makes us happy is just everything that makes us smile. Maybe it is indeed all the simple things in life, or rather things that we too often consider as self-evident and given and that are actually not at all simple. Things like having true friends or a supportive family, or being healthy. Maybe it means to enjoy life and its good moments.
 
What does it mean to you? What makes you happy?

26 comments:

  1. Happiness is indeed a very puzzling emotion when you think about it.
    I would like to think happiness is by the simplest things....life is already hard and if anything simple can make me smile then at least I can be positive for good things to come.

    I wish happiness could be permanent..but then again I guess it was not meant to be gained and maintained so easily, I guess that is what drives us to work hard to seek our dreams, I guess that is what makes us learn valuable lessons and experiences in life...ha who knew happiness is not just about a smile on the face but leaves out doors of knowledge to other things as well.

    Ah I could go on and on....but my fingers are telling em stop typing lol gosh I am so lazy...right when I was tlaking about being hardworking whoops!

    As usual a great post...very uplifting....if anything this gave me a smile to be positive again!Thanks again! :3

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    1. You are right. Maybe we should not even think about it but just be happy. But that's not that easy, I can't keep my mind from thinking. :)

      Thank you!! :) I'm glad it made you smile!

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  2. That's hard ... Happiness can come in big or small things, money can help you to obtain things that makes you happy but it's not all, happiness is more than money. I'm happy just watching tv with my family or playing with King Rusty, I don't need money to get nice moments and memories... Hmm this is a hard topic hah...

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    1. I agree, happiness is so much more than money. I think most of our nice moments and memories do not come from money, like playing with King Rusty, as you said. :)
      Thank you for your comment!

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  3. This time you delve into Philosophy, K, and that puts the subject in a vulnerable position since there is no true base to build ideas, except in a subjective way, which is Philosophy greatest achievement.

    Since the pre-Socratic philosophers, in their lack of clues about what really was going on, and blaming the Gods for the events on our dwellings, up to Sartre and his "Nausée", then on with the need to show that humanism is the real culprit of every thing going on because it was our will, free will in the definition, without the least idea of what will is and so much less about free will, there have been intents to bring the difficult case of human "feelings" into taming (here "feelings" is not the word, but we lack the right train of letter to mention that clearly known empathy or antipathy that develops in our sentience since the first steps of the human being determined to make straight the yarn entwined into their soul).

    After following the rage, of Nietzsche, the insanity of Schopenhauer, and the erudition of Kant, just naming some of the bunch, the last dregs of this internal personal movement left in the clear the following.

    This is a nominal and personal belief that does not coerce anybody to follow as a doctrine:

    Happiness is a road, a path, we walk from the moment we realise we are an unique entity. This road is dotted by side-walk platforms where there are many situations that affect our life, positively or negatively. Each time we approach these platforms we receive all the impact of the (once again, languages lack the words needed to define that thing we end calling feelings, and each philosopher invented a word for it).

    Since the path is positive in is entirety, the platforms are a kind of negative charge into it even if there is a good definition of it from the worldly understanding. This condition rest happiness to our entity and we "feel" miserable, even if we are happy on our path. The time we decide to rest on the platform define how sad and "unhappy we will be", and how long. As soon as we return to the walk, we are happy again, even if sad, rueful, or in grief.

    This pattern brings forth one of the more strange oxymoron in existence: once we deploy the path of happiness under our feet, and I sustain it is done under our own volition, there is no problem to develop any "feeling" on it, that is, you feel joy, elation, freedom, sadness, in grief, loneliness, loathed, loved, etc. without losing your happiness.

    The lost of that base path induce human to many terrible actions where the loss of interest in life is the less terrible.

    Following your lead into languages, English with its pragmatic use of verb "to be", has lost some ways to "say" things, for instance, Spanish use two verbs to express the idea of this only one Albion verb: "ser" and "estar", at first glance they seem the same things, but when you go into the real meaning of them you find small important divergences.

    It is not the same: "Ser feliz" que "estar feliz", in the first example you are talking of a state of the being that have not beginning nor end. In the second you are stating you "feelings" in this moment.

    So if you walk the path you use the first way to express you happiness. "I am happy" = "Soy feliz" (always, no matter what)

    If you try to say this in the way the world understand it. "I am happy" (unfortunately, the same words) you mean you are "content" in this moment.

    "Content" and "Happy" come from different roots, but that is another story!

    And this is already too long!

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    1. I really like that idea of happiness being a path. I remember you mentioned it before. However, sometimes I find it hard to know how to leave those platforms.
      I also wonder whether that road leads somewhere, but I guess in this case the saying "The journey is the reward" (had to look this up, as obviously sayings cannot be translated word by word and I didn't know this one in English. I hope this translation is right.) is suitable.

      Unfortunately, I do not know Spanish but what you say is interesting and I agree that it is sometimes hard to express some ideas in English.

      Thank you, your comments cannot be too long!

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  4. For me, happiness is like being content with where I am in life at the moment. A sense of, I am pleased with where I'm at. When something goes wrong my emotions change and I become unhappy with the things that are not right, or with the thing that has just happened. To define it is very difficult for me to do, although I think I know what it means... I really can't explain. Having lots of money may sound as if you would be happier, but it also brings along many other concerns. We just need to look at the rich and famous and what they are going through with all the money they have.

    I can't imagine ever being permanently happy otherwise I'd be in paradise, and everything will be so perfect. Enjoyed reading this post but it is a very tough one for me to tackle. Well done Kleopatra.

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    1. I think I know what you mean by saying that happiness is like being content with where you are in life at the moment and I do also know how emotions change when something goes wrong.
      It really is hard to express or to define.

      Thank you!

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  5. Happiness holds no meaning for me. (See: Anhedonia [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhedonia ]. My anhedonia is self-diagosed, but it think the diagnosis is accurate. If any women are interested in proving me wrong, let's talk.)

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    1. I didn't even hear about this before and it sounds sad. I hope you rethink your self-diagnosis. I somehow refuse to believe that someone cannot explore an ability to enjoy certain things in life. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Happiness is the joy and appreciation one feels at being alive. Whatever difficulties and hardships one faces the underlying feeling is that one is still glad to be alive.

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    1. That is a nice definition of happiness. I think usually we are so busy with all the things happening around us that we do not consciously feel joy because of being alive.
      Thank your for your comment!

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    2. I like nothingprofound's definition. For me, this is what happiness means.

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    3. Yes, it is wonderful to feel happy to be alive. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Happiness seems to be one of those mystical things you either feel or you don't. It's almost religious in that sense. I think I'm happiest when I'm writing, watching the telly, blogging and stealing little moments just for myself.

    Deliciously Happy

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    1. This is an interesting thought, to say it's almost religious.
      Oh this reminds me, I haven't watched TV for months. :) But yes, these little moments are very important.
      Thank you!

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  8. I like your how you ended. That I agree with...
    What makes me happy is people around me who not only support me in whatever I decide and do, but also Support one another. It's a beautiful thing to see. And that definately puts a smile to my face :)

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    1. Thank you! :)
      I agree, this is definitely a wonderful thing to see!

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  9. hmhm.... I think we can be happy by learning from a kid who is trying to walk for the first time.

    You see -- the kid is happy with each and every single step that she takes. She enjoys it and that I think is happiness. Enjoying whatever you do. :)

    Dont you think so??

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    1. Good point, I totally agree! I think there is so much we can learn from children. :)
      Thank you!

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  10. I can't really define what true happiness mean. I read the wonderful comments of your friends and agree at some points what happiness mean to them.

    Personally, I'd say that happiness is that beautiful feeling which I can't express in words. For instance, when I get what I want, at that moment I could be happy and there's a wonderful feeling that makes myself having a sense of feeling good and content. Other than that when I see the successes of my family and friends, in anything, that's when I'd also feel happy. It's kind of a shared happiness.

    Having lots of money doesn't necessarily make a person happy but in times like making ends meet, that's when it's a great relief having it. May be this is the time when a person feels happy because s/he is able to save himself from a difficult situation.

    You expressed your ideas well and I loved this post. :)

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    1. I agree with you and I understand what you mean with shared happiness.

      In my opinion, money can make things easier and, as you said, be a great relief. But I don't think one can be happy with money alone.

      Thank you so much for sharing your views and for your kind words! :)

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  11. At times it is Past, remembering what have been done, smiling for it and a great joy beneath the aura- Other times it is Present to feel with heart or minds-

    And a lot of time, it is what has not been done, eagerness sparks in soul.

    Happiness, a moment- is all about! :))

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    1. Well said, thank you!! :)
      And I agree! :)

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  12. When you obsess on being happy, does that really lead to that state or endless anxiety over why you are not? Doesn't the attempt to measure happiness lead to a kind of observer effect by making it all the more impossible to achieve?

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