Recently I have noticed a lot if people with a personal goal that includes the idea ” I want to find happiness”, or ” I just want to be happy”. This is repeated through so many individuals and yet no one seems to know how to get there or even what they want to do to be “happy”. So I pose the question, what is happiness? What defines happy and makes someone feel happiness?
When you go to define the word itself, there are several ways to define it including how the bible defines it, how psychology defines it, how philosophy or Aristotle defines it, or even the wikipedia source with over 6000 edits by 3000 users.
The actual definition in the Oxford dictionary is fairly simple, “the state of being happy…feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”.
I think where this gets difficult is that happiness is a feeling that each person seeks to feel, but yet doesn’t always recognize the feeling as “happiness”. Emotional intelligence is needed and the answer becomes very subjective.
As you pose this question to others, you will find extremely varied responses. I have heard the following responses so far.
“I feel calm, and at peace”
“I have no stress or nothing to do that brings responsibilities that aren’t done”
“I have checked everything off my to do list”
“I am successful in my career and home life”
“I feel joy”
I notice that some people describe this feeling of happiness by subtracting other feelings that are negative. It is like a math equation and very intellectualized. Some people describe this feeling using other feeling words.
What is happiness? Truly.
Intellectual people often try to make sense in their brain, making it this state of being that needs an answer and to reach an end result. An answer and an achievable goal. It needs to make sense and have an equation to solve. Feeling the way through this state of being, becomes difficult and confusing without a fixed end point.
If one were to take the word out of the equation, and try to sink into the body allowing the emotion to erupt outside of the head, where would it be felt? Would the heart be warm and the belly be settled? Would the chest be open and the feet be rooted into the ground below? Would there be a color flowing through the body?
If an image file could exist that represents happiness, what are those images from? Memories? Visions or Dreams? What do they look like? How do they sound if you were there? What are the smells? Is there a taste associated with the images?
The words that creep up are more than just happiness, they include so many more descriptive words circling around the emotion. It could include: warm, settled, calm, peaceful, red, purple, yellow, mystical, melodic, grounded, fun, rooted, scrumptious, love, comfort, joy, laughter, compassion, connected….. the list can go on and on.
The bottom line is that happiness can only be defined as a personal journey with no end point in mind. For some negative emotions may appear happy in the moment guiding them on the perfect path for their next chapter.
The challenge is to sit with emotions and feel the way through them, we can’t push them away, we must allow and say “yes” to whatever comes up and where we feel it all the way through. We are seekers of truth, calling for and claiming the answers.
Each of us holds the definition of “what is happiness” inside of our bodies. It looks different for every person, and it takes an inquiry inside to know what makes us happy. Dare to be brave and seek what happiness looks like for you in this moment, today, and maybe tomorrow. It may have been different for you last month, or last year, and it will most likely change again. Dare to acknowledge, accept, inquire, and in the end be gentle to ourselves.
–“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be. ” – Abraham Lincoln