At each significant stage of my life, whether it was the first day of school, or college or moving to a new place, or marriage, well-meaning friends and relatives have asked me: are you happy?
I’ve given garbled responses, of course, because unlike common belief on the subject, there is no yes or no answer, because it is not a yes or no question. This snippet from Oatmeal articulates my response.
It is a rather long snippet, but completely worth the 25 seconds it takes to read it. Go scroll through and check it out. I’ll wait.
Some of our collective obsession with happiness is misplaced, as far as I’m concerned. Too many posters made on phone apps talking about cookie-cutter philosophy. I’d much rather have meaning, fulfillment, pain, peace, passion, in all their contradictory and messed-up glory. Happiness hides in moments, in scattered things. It is a journey, not a destination. It is an awareness, not a target.[easy-tweet tweet=”Happiness hides in moments, in scattered things. It is a journey, not a destination.” user=”damyantig” hashtags=”life” url=”http://www.damyantiwrites.com/2017/07/14/makes-happy/”]
Happiness is a choice. On some days, it is the harder one to make. You can choose to be unhappy on those days, and that’s all right.
What about you? Do you ever ask others if they’re happy? Has someone recently asked you this question? What was your answer? What’s your take on happiness, and its place in our lives?
I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity. This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here is a great example.
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Happiness does hide in moments for me…I often experience both happiness alongside unhappiness because I’m thinking of so many things simultaneously that it is impossible to say that I’m thinking of one of the two states at any given moment in time. A very subjective thing overall and one that is relative to our the state of mind we’re in.
I typed and retyped an answer… But just couldn’t find a proper answer. It’s indeed something that comes from within… And if our happiness is depended on external forces, then it may not last for all. Loved the strip from oatmeal ?
I really loved this post, it is very true. I am often very “unhappy” or in a negative kind of mindset, so I just published a post about tips on being happier! Have a lovely day. Marina xxx
Hey there. Just read your post about happiness and it made me questions lots of things. People always tell me “Oh, you look so happy. You are in such a wonderful mood all the time.” People ask me daily how can I manage to stay so positive and happy all the time. I am never able to give them a correct answer. “That is just me. It is better to smile and attract even more positive thoughts and situations into your life than to start looking negativity.”. That is the closest answer I can give. That really is the Key. I have some bad days like everyone else. It is how we decide to deal with these kind of days. I try to replace negative feelings with positive ones. It is not easy but worth it. 🙂 Love the way you write your posts. Keep going and have a really nice day! 🙂
I can totally agree with that! I often wish I was happier because I get easily very sad and cannot escape that state of mind. But I published a post about tips on being happier and I hope it can help some people, too. And maybe they can comment their ideas and tips! Have a nice day 🙂 Marina
I believe that is the most important question in world,because we are all looking for happiness, and people think that happiness is coming with good car, or big house, or good job,but in fact it depends only on our selection. We must choose to be happy, to be in that state of mind,and we will be :)I am sure .Thank you
I can honestly say that I’m happy. I’m not rich, I don’t have a high paying job. I live a simple life, just me and my husband, no children. What most people strive for that they assume will bring them happiness, is usually what I avoid. Matthew 5:3 says, “happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” I truly believe that having a strong relationship with Jehovah God is the source of my happiness.
Lovely article on happiness. I know happiness is an inside job, and this just confirms what I believe about happiness.
Very rightly said. Happiness is the journey and not the destination. The moment we understand this crux of life, we will be able to enjoy the journey of life to the fullest.
I like that snippet very much. I misunderstood it at first and thought it meant that happiness/unhappiness is a spectrum and that we are constantly moving up and down the scale – like fingers on a piano. But now I understand more and while I don’t understand fully, I’m quite content with how I feel about it. So … erm … that’s where I’m at. 🙂
*backs away slowly with a friendly expression on my face*
*waves when reaches a safe distance*
*turns and runs*
Damyanti your question made me think.Deep.I think the pursuit of happiness as such will lead to chaos.If I were to do this I could harm not only myself but also people around me because I would disregard the mores,customs and laws,and most importantly–my duties.
I am reminded of the CHARVAKA philosophy ‘yavat jivet,sukhen jivet.Rinam kritva,ghritam pivet’–meaning -live happily as long as you live.Borrow money and slurp ghee.
We have to consider many other things besides what makes US happy.
There are two kinds of happiness in the faith-based conceptual universe which I inhabit. One is relative. One is absolute. The former relies upon or stems from ephemeral events or relationships. Like a delicious meal. An enjoyable movie, book or other diversion/attraction. An intimate moment with someone. When the meal is done, the movie over, the passion spent–the ephemeral happy moment is gone. There will be more, of course. But one is never in a perpetual bliss–without, perhaps, some mental disturbance or some very good drugs. Absolute happiness, on the other hand, is an enduring thing that comes from confidence and conviction that one understands the reality of life. The causes and effects that chart our lives–our karma. When one is certain of that understanding and one’s ability to rebound, to challenge and succeed, to overcome pain, suffering or obstacles–then one can feel absolutely happy. Happy not in the moment, but in the realization. We, life and the moments which we experience bring change. That’s OK. So maybe my perspective is similar to yours, just with a different terminology.
John – I initially thought your comment was waaay to long for me to read and sustain interest, but once I got into it, I found that totally enjoyed your way of expressing yourself. I thoroughly agree with the analysis you give of the different types of happiness on offer. I absolutely prefer the latter, but will take the former any day! I just have to make sure I don’t get attached to any of the ephemera passing before me and just love the one I’m with from moment to moment. Thanks so much for sharing your comment – it’s brightened up my day. 🙂 And now, onto the next comment.
Kindness – Robert.
Love this! It makes so much sense. To ask someone if they are “Happy” is kinda irrelevant, because their happy might make us very “Unhappy”. It is a measureless term. As you (and the Oatmeal describe) it is far more valuable to be interested and doing, discovering and being present in whatever we are doing, however hard it may be on any given day. I really enjoyed reading this – cos I’m not Happy either 🙂
That’s a very good point you make: “To ask someone if they are “Happy” is kinda irrelevant, because their happy might make us very “Unhappy”.” One man’s peanut is another man’s poison – right? 🙂
Kindness – Robert.
Quite so 🙂
I’m happy when someone enjoys one of my stories. Would I be happier if that person went on to buy the respective book? Probably not: then I’d have to fret about the resultant tax bill.
Hahaha – well said, Tooty. Happiness may be it’s own reward, but it’s also the generator of it’s own administrative burden. 😉 Here’s hoping the benefits outweigh the costs for you.
Kindness – Robert.
Thank you – me too
I used to consider ‘happy’ my life’s goal. I no longer do. There are so many people in the world who are valuable, important, seminal. They do important things, affect important changes around them, even bring happiness to others, yet there’s not a lot of ‘happy’ in their life. I started to feel that I was taking away from their importance if my only goal was ‘happy’. Now, my goals are understanding, patience, perspective–that sort. Happy? Not sure about that one.
So true. Everything, including happiness, is relative and complicated. I’m just grateful when I’m with someone and we can share a good laugh. When that happens, I can truly say that, for that moment, I was happy. Now I just have to make sure to do that a lot!
Hi Damyanti – happiness is just being reasonably content – life will have its up and downs … we don’t live if we don’t experience lots of emotions and need to deal with a variety of things that may well test us … but we are a lot better off than so many … and yes I am all in all happy – life could be easier … so now I’ll go off and get on with living – cheers Hilary
Happiness is in moments, right. Though each one has different definitions. I feel happy when I feel satisfied about my time worth spent and resources well spent. Its not a black and white thing. It should range throughout the spectrum. A nice comic.
Food for thought, Damyanti. Though happiness is definitely a goal with me, I am sometimes okay to be unhappy. Because it is humanly impossible to be happy at all times. When a loved one suffers or when I experience pain, I let myself experience the grief because that is important as well. Of course, instead of moping over every obstacle, we can choose to focus on something positive. So while overall, I try to be happy, I don’t shy away from experiencing the pain either.
Yes happiness is a choice. while we have to be honest and admit that life serves us up a lot of negatives we can choose to let that be our life focus or look around and see a world of beauty to give us hope.
I love the inquisitive nature of your post. For me happiness is a choice that easy to make with little or no deliberation on my part as I’ve gotten clear about what I really want to give and receive in life.
Sometimes I hesitate to make the “happiness” choice because I don’t want to make other people unhappy. But I’ve reached a point where I realize we’re all in this together but I can’t be personally responsible for another person’s happiness. Its a very subjective and interdependent concept..
I’m guessing we each have our own definition of what happiness is and what it takes to make us happy. I do strongly believe it is up to us to choose happiness.
Lovely post. I’m asked this question and I have also asked this question to a few close folks.
I’m happy. It’s because I live the day I get with hope and positivity. I find chaos exciting. I choose to see beauty and meaning in things around me. I enjoy my work and my family loves and cares for me. I think all that makes me happy. 🙂
Finding happiness is a difficult quest. As emotional beings, are feeling are always in constant flux. Happiness is a concept that does box one’s feelings in. I like the ideas of bliss and euphoria. I enjoyed reading this. It was a great insight.
Happiness is indeed a choice. Thinking positive is part of that. I don’t ever recall anyone asking me if I was happy or sad. And I don’t recall asking anyone either. I know women who have depended on others for their happiness and ended up being so disappointed. What usually makes me happy is not other people but experiences that I have, activities I do, or cats. We do have control over our thoughts, our emotions and our behavior. We don’t control anything else.
I would agree with almost all of that, except for saying happiness is a choice. Happiness is a feeling, and we cannot control our feelings.
But when well-meaning people ask us if we are happy, they are asking us to become introspective to give an answer. Introspective people end up with odd feelings. It is better to live a meaningful life without trying to analyze our feelings too often.
When asked, I usually answer, “I’m content.” When I think of happiness, I think of those time when I am joyous, which is not all that often.
I’ve always felt that happiness was a general term. We choose to be happy or unhappy. Happy to me is looking at the positives in my life, while acknowledging that there are negatives and, conversely, unhappy is drowning in the negatives. Those I would call unhappy never see the positive side of anything and dwell on the negative. So, in a sense, I think we are able to alter our outlook simply by changing the way we look at the negatives and taking the steps needed to diminish or eliminate those negatives in our lives.
People believe that I am unhappy because I frown and grumble. What they fail to realize is that being grumpy is what makes me happy.
“Some of our collective obsession with happiness is misplaced, I have to say. I’d much rather have meaning, fulfillment, pain, peace, passion, in all their contradictory and messed-up glory. Happiness hides in moments, in scattered things.”
This summarises how I feel about happiness. Thank you Damyanti.
To fit and reflect for all sorts of moments an answer to such a question “Are you happy?” could be another question of: “How happy can we be?”
Yet you’re so lovely in your following and liking of my little blog posts, I am inspired to think up an answer in the form of a poem just for you. Maybe ready for the next time someone asks me “Are you happy?” and here it is:
Bearing in Mind
A brown attack,
In a quiet shack,
Is it roused still asleep?
And on declining shores,
When a pallid one snores,
Can we be sure it sleeps?
You said it perfectly. It’s a choice and it’s far from black and white. We can be happy in unhappiness, and we can be unhappy in happiness.
I concur. My happiness comes most often from the spontaneous moment or event.
It’s interesting, in Hungarian it’s very rare to ask people of they are happy or tell them that you’re happy. It has a lot more weight in this language than in English. In English, even my boss asks me at the regular one-on-one: “Are you happy here?” I hate that question. No, I’m not “happy” here but I’m not “unhappy” either. It’s work. It doesn’t touch me this much on the emotional level ?
It’s a vastly overrated idea, probably from Hollywood. If apes were happy, we’d still be apes (well, we still are, but unhappy to admit it).
Dan pretty well sums up what I would say. I was aghast on an occasion once, when a teacher from my religious tradition said that we decide if we want to be happy. We can choose to react to others and passing things. But our peace and happiness is in our disposition that forms over the span of our life. Deep down, I know he makes sense. Having said that, I certainly feel joy, pain, wonder, enthralment – and sometimes, that’s just from reading a few blogs! 🙂
I like Dan’s comment. Things take place that I don’t enjoy at all, but deep down, I’m happy. I was NOT a happy teenager, but I learned that happiness is a choice, and now I make an effort to live with an attitude of kindness, to embrace others, and recognize joy, beauty and love everywhere I go. 🙂 And I don’t sweat the small stuff! Excellent post and link, Damyanti.
I like to think of myself as a generally cheerful person, but there are days when gloom sits in and won’t shift. Sometimes there’s a reason, sometimes not. But general happiness is different to being happy in a moment in time.
Being generally happy with your life suggests contentment, whereas only being happy for certain fleeting moments makes me think something needs to change. But I also guess it depends on the scale of happiness you’re talking about, being ecstatically happy all the time is unlikely, but contentedly happy is a more realistic expectation.
I can be unhappy about things and unhappy with people but in general, I’m a happy guy. I love finding and reading stories for WATWB.
Great link, loved it – does that mean I’m happy?
Damyanti, happiness has levels of feelings. Sometimes it’s easier to just say a general yes, I’m happy to the question. Unless it’s a trusted friend who really wants to know something specific…Are you happy about or with…? Christine
Here’s a bit of extra happiness for you because you’re getting a comment from me 🙂 Yep, I choose to be happy, even when I’m bombarded with a negative environment from those who would attempt to sabotage my right to a happy life.
Take care, my lovely friend.
Happiness is in the small things.
My normal expression isn’t a smile, so my wife is always asking if I’m happy. I am, it just doesn’t always register.
Happiness is such a subjective term. If someone asks you, “Are you happy,?” his definition of happiness might be very different from yours, so your answer might mean something very different to both of you.