Define Happiness

Blog - Define Happiness

How can you even begin to attempt to define something as abstract as happiness? It means something different to each of us. Equally, individuals seek and obtain their happiness in different ways. But us humans like to define everything in our world and, as such, people have tried to define happiness. Its abstract and personal nature makes this a difficult task but one which psychologists have been attempting for decades, building on the works of great philosophers and thinkers from the previous millennia. While you read the rest of this article, please think about what happiness means for you and leave us a comment at the end.


According to positive psychology research, a happy person experiences positive emotions more often than negative ones. Joy, pride and interest feature more regularly than sadness, anger and anxiety in their day to day lives. Happiness stems from positive emotions which are inspired by positive experiences but it can also be related to an individual’s appreciation and satisfaction of their life.


There is a difference between a happy person and someone experiencing a moment of happiness. People suffering from depression may not be described as happy but they may still have experiences which lead to happiness. To be happy does not mean all negative emotions must be removed from one’s life. Humans are capable of feeling a number of emotions at the same time or in quick succession. A happy person needn’t be happy all the time. Similarly, happiness can be fleeting.


Naturally happy people generally deal with negative emotions in a different way to more pessimistic or less happy people. It is not that they do not feel sadness, anger nor anxiety but they are better able to deal with these emotions or, in some cases, are able to draw strength and positivity from the. We all know someone who can see the silver lining in every situation. Regardless of circumstances, for some people, happiness can always be found.


Here are some of my favourite definitions of happiness:


“Happiness is a state of activity.” Aristotle


“Happiness is the joy that we feel when we’re striving after our potential.” Ancient Greek


“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” Michael J. Fox


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi


“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Margaret Lee Runbeck


“Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it.” Bernard Meltzer


When I was checking definitions of happiness on the net, one result surprised me. Merriam Webster offer three definitions. The second is predictable “a state of well-being and contentment” but the first surprised me: “good fortune”. Actually, this is now an obsolete use of the word happiness but the site offers a Shakespeare quote as proof of its use: “all happiness bechance to thee”. It interested me greatly that 400 years ago, happiness was a word used to describe wealth and money. Perhaps this is why society places such great store on the importance of being financially comfortable when it comes to searching for our happiness.


At the end of the day, happiness is different for everyone. But we all share one thing. We know happiness when we feel it. There is something unique about the emotion of happiness which seems to take over our very being. It seeps through our bodies, fills us up and endures for far longer than the experience which caused it in the first place. The feeling of happiness is, I believe, the most powerful of all human emotions.


I have one final happiness definition to share with you:


“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”

Dalai Lama


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