Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happiness Defined?

1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

I hate philosophy because the questions are so big, and no matter how many Fulbright Fellows/Scholars we get to answer them for us, our curiosity is never satisfied. With that being said, I must admit that it unnerves me a little that I referred to the Webster dictionary for the definition of happiness, and what's even scarier is that I agree with it partially.

For the longest time I always assumed that happiness was this blissful, sort of Utopian experience that one has when everything is perfect in his or her life. I would go to the park or the mall, for example, and see people smiling with their babies or holding hands with their significant others and think to myself, "Wow, I wonder what that feels like." I actually believed that these people had reached a point in their lives where everything was going right, and God himself smiled down on them daily, giving them that happiness they may or may not have deserved.

Well, recently, after talking with a really good friend of mine about these "big questions" and how hard they are to answer, I decided to see what Webster had to say about happiness. Out of all the definitions I saw for this entry, the word "contentment" stuck out the most to me. Reading this was really a pivotal point in my thinking process, believe it or not. All these years I assumed that when people said they were happy, genuinely, it meant they were on cloud nine and nothing was going wrong in their lives. Now, I suddenly realize that a) it's not about having everything perfect, it's about being content with the way things are, knowing they could be worse; and b) realizing that we, individually, have the ability to determine if we are happy or not.

My dad doesn't say very many wise things, but I never forget the time he told me "If you make one good friend in your lifetime, that's something to be happy about." I didn't take this literally, but it did make me think about how finding happiness in the simple things we have (but take for granted) is a lot easier to do that stressing over the complicated things we want, but don't have.

I know things are stressful for all of us, me included, and I know that things could be better. However, I can say that I am becoming more and more content knowing that things could be a whole lot worse, but I'm fortunate enough for that not to be the case. That makes me happy, (yup, I said it)!

Think about it...


  1. I never realized happiness meant contentment either. Guess I should have investigated as well. LOL! But I do believe as individuals we have to seek out and find what's most important to us and stop comparing our lives and happiness to others. On the outside looking in, we have no idea what others could possibly be going through. They may be smiling on the outside and crying inside. So again, happiness should be something we determine for ourselves and make the best of what we have. Just my opinion. :-)

    Great article cousin!
    R. N. Cloud

  2. I agree with your comment. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my posts!