I often say I am now the happiest I have ever been in my life, with the exception of the day my son and only child was born. When I said this to a friend a while ago, she reacted with disbelief. After all, I’d previously shared my disappointment at losing an exciting opportunity I thought I had in the bag. I’d lamented an increasingly unsatisfying romantic relationship that would’ve been better as a friendship. I’d complained about an investment gamble I’d taken that hadn’t worked out in my favor in the short term. And, on top of all that, I had not been feeling well physically. What did I mean I was the happiest I’d ever been in my life? How could that be?
Being happy doesn’t mean I’m never disappointed or sad. As I explained here, it means I’ve allowed myself to take notice and soak in more of all the little ordinary moments of happy feelings that occur throughout my day. It means I’ve given myself permission to be happy by finding happy in things everywhere around me. Solituvation. Bourbon barrels. Nature. My son’s laugh.
I think we get it wrong when we think happiness comes from extraordinary things happening in our lives. “Happy” feelings can be fleeting yet recurring. For me, happiness comes from noticing and appreciating all the little ordinary things that make me smile and bring me moments of joy every day.
What Do You Think?
Happiness is different for everyone, so I asked 10 fellow bloggers to weigh in on what happiness is to them. While there are common themes among their answers, you’ll also find differing perspectives. Some had previously written about happiness, and were kind enough to allow me to include links to their earlier posts here. Thank you to everyone for contributing!
Libby at Goddess Attainable finds happiness in little details:
Life is so full of so many rich and delicious details. I don’t think I can describe happiness in one broad stroke, but rather in the details. Happiness is the natural and warm affection exchanged between my partner and I. It’s laughing so hard that no sound comes out, with my twin sister, at something only the two of us get. Happiness is seeing and smelling all flowers, in all forms, at all times. It’s an annual weekend away with my four favorite people, eating, sharing, and enjoying each other. It’s realizing that with every passing year of my life, things seem to get easier, and less scary, and more open, and filled with supreme peace. It’s watching Harry Potter, or Ghostbusters, or Jurassic Park, when I have all the time in the world to watch it. And it’s chocolate. Mother fucking chocolate, in all forms.
Khaya of Khaya Rhonkainen also writes of finding happiness in simple things:
What is happiness?
The smell of freshly baked bread, taste of berries I picked from the wild, sound of my brother’s voice on the phone, a hug from my baby sister I wish I could spend more time with, sight of my fast-growing nephews and nieces are the happiness that is all my senses.
Beauty of a pause, silence, me and my thoughts daydreaming, conversations with my fictional characters are the happiness I pour out on the paper. To be moved by music or muse in mundane places such as a grocery store is the happiness I’ll gladly serve as poetry for dinner.
Autumn is happiness. Nature’s invitation to freely wander off the beaten track and go skinny-dipping. A rainy day is happiness of simply snuggling up on a sofa with my hubby as we binge watch our favourite series. Happiness is simple things, really, for this introverted soul.
Happiness is when you can walk into a room and be yourself…unapologetically. It’s when you don’t have to be concerned about if your personal self is going to clash with your professional self. It’s when you’ve unlearned all of the made-up societal rules and decided you can make up the rules—as you go along. Happiness is being you.
Anand of Ananda Only also believes happiness is found within:
We assume it stems from something outside, that can fulfill or complete us. Our careers or partners, hobbies or achieved goals. What unifies them is their ability to make us happy enough to forget about ‘ourselves’. They trigger a joy we spend our entire lives in pursuit of.
But while the pleasure we draw from each of these may be significant, in the fullness of time they are momentary and fleeting. And what remains constant is this chase for that elusive upliftment. A hunt that drains us, make us fearful and uncertain.
Happiness in fact is our true nature. Briefly uncovered during those moments of pure bliss when we stop thinking and allow ourselves to be. Hidden beneath the bells and whistles of our personality and life stories. A quiet inner stillness that is always available. That unravels itself from within when we stop searching for it outside. That is meditation. That is happiness. That is you.
Jeff of Develop. Inspire. Transform agrees happiness is not found in external things:
Happiness, like all concepts, is socially constructed. Meaning that, though many people are socialized to find happiness outside of themselves, in the objects in the world, happiness does not live outside of the self.
When we look outside of ourselves for happiness, we are sure to be disappointed, as all external things are transitory, always coming and going. Thus, when we attach happiness to an external object, and that external object goes away, we are left feeling a lack of happiness.
However, when we realize that happiness comes from within, we become aware of the process of attaching happiness to external objects and can question these social constructs, and make mental modifications. The result of which is true happiness.
It is also important to understand that the concept and experience of happiness exists, because of the concept and experience of sadness. They go together. Meaning, that we cannot experience happiness, without also expecting to experience sadness. Understanding this also creates freedom from self-imposed limitations on experiencing both happiness and sadness; and, for me, there is great freedom in this understanding.
Brad of Writing to Freedom has a different view on happiness:
Our cultural fascination with happiness bothers me. To me, it is part of a larger trend putting personal gain and growth above the welfare of others and the planet.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting happiness or personal development are bad, but they might not be the best goals or ways to orient our lives. Our self oriented lives have led us to a world full of hate, war, extreme wealth gaps, starvation, climate change, and mass extinction. We need people, relationships, and love to survive and grow.
What if we oriented our lives around love and helping others instead of personal gain? When we pursue meaning, we develop relational and adaptive skills that I believe better serve us and the planet. There is new research suggesting we need to evolve and live like fungi; connecting in networks, collaborating, and cooperating. The survival of humans and the planet may depend on it. So I’m choosing love, and inviting you to join me in orienting our lives toward helping others rather than happiness.
Kay of Over Fifty and Fine writes she knows happiness better now that she knows what happiness is not:
At nearly 58, I have only just come to terms with the fact that happiness is not a destination, not one of permanence anyway. Happiness, for me, has morphed from what it was when I was a child when it was intertwined with that constantly taken-for-granted state of being carefree and without worry. It has become momentary and fleeting, and with that realization, more potent and impactful. Hearing my grown child’s voice. A memory of the last conversation I had with my mother. The sight of children playing with Legos. And yes, even those few peaceful moments late at night before retiring or early in the morning upon rising when I realize that I made it through another day and have the privilege of more time.
More time to grab bites, both big and small, of contentment and peace. Once I learned and accepted that happiness is not enduring and that it is ultimately peace that I crave, continuity and constancy of a love that sustains, then I realized that I’ve had more happiness than I thought. I know happiness better because I am aware of what happiness is not. It is not permanent. It is not tangible. It is not a state-of-being. It is a feeling — the feeling of being caught off guard by a moment in time that warms me from the inside out, and then emboldens me to take another breath and another step.
What about you? What do you think happiness is? Is it found within ourselves, in external small moments, through helping others…or are all of these part of living a happy life?
Happy Friday. Whatever that means to you.❤
Thank you again to the 10 lovely fellow bloggers who made me happy by contributing to this post.
All images, except as noted, are my own.
The Hot Goddess
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