I’ve been writing all about how to be happy, without defining what happiness really is. So, what is happiness?
According to Google’s definition, happiness is the “state of being happy.” Ok, that doesn’t help much. Synonyms for happiness are: pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, cheerfulness, merriment, gaiety, joy, joviality, delight, good spirits, lightheartedness, well-being, enjoyment, exuberance, exhilaration, elation, ecstasy, rapture, blissfulness and euphoria.
In my own opinion, I believe that happiness for each person is subjective. However, how you define being happy and what brings happiness are two different concepts.
Some may define happiness as being successful in their careers, or having all the money they need to afford all the things they want. Others may define happiness as being a parent, or taking care of others, or perhaps being able to just make it in life, with life’s main essentials.
I think given the synonyms listed above, it is evident that feelings of happiness indicate a state of being – a state of elation or a state of overall contentment.
The how, as mentioned above, is different that the what.
Now happiness can also be fleeting – a moment-to-moment feeling. We may overall feel contentment or a sense of enjoyment and good-spiritedness in our lives, but we may not feel that way always, or every moment.
Obviously, we may feel sadness when it is appropriate, or anger. Just as emotions come and go and are fleeting, so can states of happiness, or feelings of elation, feelings of joy, and feelings of bliss.
So…what is happiness?
According to Happify.com:
“The research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis. Both of these are relatively stable—that is, our life changes, and our mood fluctuates, but our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else. The good news is, with consistent effort, this can be offset…you have the ability to control how you feel—and with consistent practice, you can form life-long habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life.”
The notion that we can control how we feel is exactly what I emphasize in my own blog – that we can choose to be happy, no matter what we are facing and no matter how things have gone so far in our lives.
It is my belief that even under stressful circumstances or when facing adversity, if we choose to view the situation positively, or from the most positive light, that we can feel happier.
From another source, Greatergood.Berkeley.edu:
“.. to understand the causes and effects of happiness, researchers first need to define it. Many of them use the term interchangeably with “subjective well-being,” which they measure by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives and how much positive and negative emotion they’re experiencing.
In her 2007 book, The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
So, what is happiness then? According to the above, it is the experience of well-being, a sense that life is good, meaningful and worthwhile – plus a measurement of how much positive or negative emotion one is experiencing.
What happiness is, to me, is an overall state of being – a state of being involving a certain positive mindset, attitude and disposition towards life. That mindset can remain unchanged and steady on a day-to-day basis, but feelings can fluctuate and change on a moment-to-moment basis.
Happy people also maintain and cultivate certain habits in life, so that they feel positive and happy daily. On the opposite end, unhappy people also tend to have certain habits that prolong their sense of unhappiness on a day-to-day basis.
So, happiness, then, is a state of mind, a state of being, that can be cultivated and improved upon in one’s life, another notion that I repeat within my happiness blog, by cultivating certain daily habits.
Visit my site, Be Happy, for more articles on the “how” of happiness, and here’s to your happiness!