The Meaning of Happiness


Are you happy?

It’s a simple enough question, so why can it be so difficult to answer? On some days, maybe the answer is yes, blissfully so. On other days, the answer might be look around, are you joking? When your loved ones tell you, “We just want you to be happy,” what are they saying? That they don’t think you’re happy now? That you need to make some changes or else unhappiness awaits? Why is there so much uncertainty in happy?

First off, there may be a problem with the word itself. Happy can mean delighted or glad over a particular thing. Is it reasonable to expect that you’ll feel delighted or glad for every second of every day for all of eternity? Probably not. Happiness can also mean fortunate or lucky. If you feel unhappy, does that mean you’re ungrateful? Finally, happiness can mean a sense of contentment, pleasure, or joy. But you’re driven and ambitious, it’s not in your nature to experience contentment for long periods of time. Does that mean you’re unhappy?

No one is happy 100% of the time. Even a job you love will contain aspects that aren’t pleasurable. You get into fights with people you love with whom you generally feel happy spending time, but you’re not happy when you’re fighting. No one is happy and likeable all the time, that would be an unreasonable expectation.

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We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by negativity, troublesome images, and trauma. Is it selfish to prioritize happiness in a society where there’s so much work to be done? Is it egocentric to want happiness when there is such profound suffering?

It might be time to start thinking about happiness in a more logical, reasonable sense. Happy is elusive and an impermanent state of being. You don’t “achieve happiness” and then feel happy forever. None of us could live up to that standard of happiness. So here are some alternate questions you can ask yourself:

Am I generally content? Do I have more anger than I would prefer? In general, do I look forward to my days or do I dread them? Am I constantly fantasizing about escaping? Do I have big regrets? In what ways do I wish my life was different? In what ways do I wish I were different?

Happiness isn’t a race to be won. Like most achievements in life, it has to be practiced, worked on daily, tweaked, and managed. There are setbacks and leaps forward. But the idea of “happiness” shouldn’t be dismissed. If you were troubled your answers to any of the above questions and you feel like there are changes you need to make but are afraid to, aren’t sure how, or think you don’t deserve anything different, then please come talk to us. Happiness may be vaporous, but misery doesn’t have to be your reality either.

If you need someone to talk to, please call us at 843-501-1099. Most people find themselves at a crossroads every once in a while when it can help to talk to a professional about options moving forward and explore what might be holding you back. We can help.

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