A few days ago my very good friend called asking if I’d be home for a while. “I need to talk to you,” she said with such intensity that it scared me a little. Imagining all kinds of things I waited impatiently for her to appear at my door.
Immediately upon entering she asked, “Are you happy?” I was stunned by the question and queried why she was asking. “Because,” she answered, “it seems so many people I know are unhappy, and I want to know about you.”
After thinking for a few minutes, I told her I wasn’t sure I was always happy but that my life was good in so many ways it was easy to be content. That seemed to satisfy her and we went on to have a wonderful conversation about being happy.
Since then I’ve thought a lot about our talk and what prompted it asking over and over again what is happy. Among the dictionary definitions is feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. OK, so if I am content I must be happy, right?
The truth is I’m not always happy. When things aren’t right in my family, I am very long faced. A bad day playing tennis or duplicate bridge can put me in a funk. Conflict of any kind causes my emotional barometer to be very unsteady. Having a friend learn that cancer has returned or who suffers from dementia breaks my heart. Losing a family member or a friend upsets the rhythms of my life.
Is that all to say that life resembles a roller coaster? It has its ups and downs meaning we have no choice but to roll with it being sure not to let the downs become a permanent condition. Being happy can be such a challenge because some days are just bad days or as one friend says, “There’s no such thing as a bad day. Some days are just better than others.” When those days occur, there is a choice to make and that is whether to embrace life with all it has to offer or to remain stuck in place. Can you guess my choice?
Boy, I don’t have all the answers for what it takes to be happy, but I do think that part of it is the ability to move on, to choose how you are going to let life affect you. What I know for sure is that I am on the downside having lived more than half my life and I don’t want to waste a single minute being unhappy. I want to find joy in the ordinary of each day and in loving and being loved.
How about you? What is your take on happy?
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28 thoughts on “On Being Happy”
Happiness starts from within. And I love your comment that happiness is a choice it really is. Being Happy is so important to me – life’s too short to be unhappy and unfulfilled.
Being grateful for what you have and what you are blessed with brings contentment. Contentment brings happiness! So … I’m there! Thank God every day for this wonderful life!
And remember… it’s the Simple Pleasures that mean the most!
I couldn’t agree with you more.
It’s so interesting to read this right now. I think I’ve shared before about my father having a gift of being sought out by friends/coworkers/athletes, and even my own childhood friends for counseling or advice about many things in life. He always had a happy persona even during the bad times. He knew how to “flip the glass over” and choose happiness after allowing himself to feel bad for a certain period of time. It is a true gift I’ve had the honor to inherit. I hear all the time I wish I could be happy like you, I wish I was as confident as you, I wish I was as strong and so on from many of the same types of people that sought out my father. I am in the process of helping a friend out of a 10 year relationship and she says all the time, I wish I could be happy like you and my response is always the same…happiness is a choice to be content with who you are and where you are at. I choose peace inside and that is what happiness is to me. She’s not there yet but I’m hoping over time she’s on her way! Great post
I love knowing this about you and I totally agree with your definition of happiness. It is always a choice.
Wow. Sobering. Heavy stuff for first thing on a Sunday morning. (Yes…I’m JUST getting up!) Gee, I don’t know. I think happy is both a state of mind AND a state of being. I’m generally a very happy little camper, but like you, there are situational episodes that cause that happiness to lose some of its steam. The degree of loss varies. The death of a close friend or family ranks right up there, while hearing of the death of people I don’t personally know, while shocking or extremely saddening, is more quickly recoverable situation. Being unable to physically function like I used to before all these stupid surgeries makes me very, VERY sad, but doesn’t compare to the way I feel about death. I am happy for all the mechanisms in place to alleviate some of that sadness, so there’s that different level of “happy” again. It’s a deep, multi-layered thing this thing called happiness. I would imagine that even those who have lived their entire life surrounded by poverty, loneliness, death and/or destruction have had times of what they would define as happiness. The entire construct is, I would surmise, based in part on perspective. As I said, I am a person who generally feels quite happy, but there are times when I have felt myself at the very gates of Hell wearing gasoline panties and gun powder perfume. Your friend, and now you, posed a question to ponder that can’t be answered here without the 2nd coming of “War and Peace”. But at least we are pondering. I wish you a “happy” week ahead!
If there is a thoughtful comment to be made, I know you will be right there. I always appreciate your insight.
I’d say I am happy most of the time. That comes with having a wealth of very positive friends. A life that offers me challenges that I totally welcome. A dear, sweet husband who is always there for me. A loving family. Of course, I go through those sad days, often times wondering why they provide such unhappiness, but then take a walk, start painting or switch the NEWS to the Hallmark channel. I don’t know – time seems to move by so quickly that I don’t want to waste it on being unhappy, always looking for the bright side that is out there somewhere.
I’m with you when it comes to not wasting time being unhappy. What’s the point?!?!
I have yet to meet anyone who is happy every day. Very few of us are truly in charge of our own lives. It is always being affected by those around us – our children, our spouse, a boss, a co-worker. It is more about how we put our troubles in perspective that increases our happiness. Some days I can feel down because I don’t have granite countertops and new carpeting like so many people I know. But when I think of all the people who don’t have a house at all, I feel blessed. My relationship with my 16 year old son is pretty up and down right now, but I know it will get better over time and I am so lucky I still have him here with me, even if he doesn’t always get his chores done. My husband isn’t perfect, but then neither am I. Perspective. I believe it is the key to happiness.
How right you are about it being hard to be happy all the time, but I do believe our general attitude is a choice. I choose happy.
Good question which is hard to be answered “yes” or “no”. Sometimes I am sometimes I’m not. This have been quite stressful time in my life so I don’t think I can say I’m truly happy but there is days when I’m more happy than others…
You define the some days are better than others concept. Thanks for your comment.
Love this Linda!….I guess you can say that I am a relatively happy person. Whenever I feel like I am getting into my “unhappy place” I quickly snap out of it and think about those who are less fortunate whether they are in a medical situation. financial or have great loss….I was feeling stressed about our potential move and feeling a bit down about having to stay in a house for almost a year that is not mine and living with the things around me that would not “be happy” …. then we heard the news of a friend who passed away after a week hoping that he will overcome the devastating affects of an aneurysm…and unhappy turned to great sadness…and then all the other trivial things I was obsessing about faded away….now my friend no longer has her sweet and most wonderful husband and the close knit family has lost their father and grandfather….so I truly try to put things into perspective and smile at the little things like when my little granddaughter used to tell me “you make my heart happy” … Now that she is a young teenager, she expresses it in different ways…Or that smile I get every morning saying “Good Morning” … and then when the sun comes up it reminds me of my mom, who always says, “It’s a great day, because I woke up and saw the sun” Hope you have a very “happy day” Linda… and some thing or someone will make you smile!
Always enjoy your musings, but this one today was especially timely since I have been going through some emotional challenges lately. A very wise person once said to me, “Change your mind, change your life.” Of course, that’s often easier said than done. Sometimes all you can do is wait it out. “Stay on the train; the scenery will change.”
Sometimes being happy is a real struggle, and it’s a challenge to keep that glass half full. Stay strong, Stephanie.
Thank you for your beautifully written article. I feel we are here to grow as a person. The ups and downs in our lives gives us the opportunity to do just that. It is difficult to be grateful for the downs but I try to realize that they come to us for a reason. That perspective has a definite bearing on my happiness. ❤️
Your sweet self shines through and has to influence others. How we meet the down times is what is so important to our general well being.
Very good article. We spent months talking about happiness in philosophy class. Yes, life does throw conflict your way that gets you derailed. We can only get back on track or falter and fail. Free will dictates our moods.
Being happy or unhappy is a choice, and there are many challenges to making the choice to be happy.
I think I have a happiness strand running through me, and I mostly know it’s there, even when I’m feeling sad or enraged at the injustices perpetrated around the world by those who should know better. I’m also thinking it’s a bit like a garden, and even if one can’t always be there, one doesn’t need to actively tend and nourish it. Thank you for this thoughtful post.
Ah Tish, I love your perspective and your comparing happiness to a garden. I will remember that.
Good question, Linda. Happiness always is not possible- we will have troubles in this world. Recognizing the difference between needs and wants is important. Gratefulness helps keep us humble. I would guess few of us reading this have an empty pantry. My faith keeps me grounded, and I believe prayer can bring peace.
Thank you Blis for your thoughtful comment. There will always be challenges but how we meet them is what is key.
Being human is part of a great experiment..or a test of energy. I have yet to meet a person without challenges in his life. So I guess if a person really desires to be happy most of the time, then reflection of life is important. To remember why we came.. and that life is purposeful . 😀
Your perspective is meaningful. There are challenges and sometimes it’s hard not to let them get us down.