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  • Lindsay Houghton

Defining Happiness


hap· pi· ness

ˈhapēnəs/ noun

  1. the state of being happy. "she struggled to find happiness in her life"

synonyms: pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, cheerfulness, merriment, gaiety, joy, joyfulness,joviality, jollity, glee, delight, good spirits, lightheartedness, well-being, enjoyment;

What is happiness?

Some may say it’s a choice. Others say it comes from within. Is it the destination? Is it the journey? Happiness is not only hard to measure, but it is also difficult to define. You can't define happiness without using a synonym for happiness, and you can't interpret it to everyone’s satisfaction. Oxford dictionaries’ obvious definition for happiness is “the feeling of being happy”.

Let’s take a scientific look at this. You may be thinking that science is kind of a strange way to take


a look at happiness because it’s intangible. You can't pick it up, cut it into pieces or dissect it. Therefore, can it really be studied scientifically? Many doctors and so called experts on the matter say yes. These scientists use the term happiness interchangeably with “subjective well-being”, which they measure by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives, and how much positive and negative emotion they're experiencing. In the book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”.

What they're proposing is that happiness is subjective, there is no exact science to measure it. Everyone’s different,so trying to measure one person’s happiness against another’s is worthless.

So, with this being the actual truth, why do we continually attempt do this day in and day out?

I was watching The View this morning, and panel was having a discussion about happiness, social media, expectations and FOMO (fear of missing out). One host on the panel of women said she has stopped looking at social media because she feels as though she just keeps comparing her life to other’s and she doesn't feel like it’s healthy, it makes her feel bad about her life. I think that’s probably a typical feeling amongst a lot of people this day in age. That’s when another host chimed in and said she loves looking at everyone’s lives. She called these posts or people’s pictures “highlight reels”. She felt honored to be able to witness the best days in other’s lives. These two different perspectives really made me ponder happiness.

Two different perspectives for sure. I find myself at times inadvertently caught between the two thoughts, feeling happy for people but also having feelings of jealousy because I’m not making acai


bowls that look straight of a food magazine, doing yoga somewhere exotic or starting my own organic coffee company. Inevitably after feeling jealousy, I start questioning my own happiness.

How often have you asked yourself, “Am I happy”? How often have you said to yourself or a friend, “I just want to be happy”? Have you ever stopped to consider exactly what happiness means? What, exactly, is this happiness you are wishing for? It matters because it’s hard for your wishes for happiness to come true if you aren't clear about exactly how you define happiness or what it is exactly that will bring you happiness.

My Definition of Happiness

Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs. In other words, happiness comes when you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Happiness is a feeling of contentment and gratefulness, that life is just as it should be.

I also believe that happiness is a practice and like with any practice, the more you do it, the better you are at it.

The key to these definitions, whether mine or a scientist’s, is that positive emotions do not indicate the absence of negative emotions. A "happy person" experiences an array of emotions just like anybody else, but the frequency by which they experience the negative ones may differ. It could be that "happy people" don't experience as much negative emotion because they process it differently or they may find meaning in a way others have not. In fact, using the phrase "happy person" is probably incorrect because it assumes that they are naturally happy or that positive things happen to them more often. Nobody is immune to life's stressors, but the question is whether you see those stressors as moments of opposition or moments of opportunity.

Why Choose Happiness

In addition to making us feel good, studies have found that happiness actually improves other aspects of our lives. Here is some of the good stuff that research has linked to happiness.Happiness is good for our health:

  1. Happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer.

  2. Happiness is good for our relationships: Happy people are more likely to have fulfilling relationships, and they have more close friends.

  3. Happy people make more money and are more productive at work.

  4. Happy people are more generous.

  5. Happy people cope better with stress and trauma.

  6. Happy people are more creative and are better able to see the big picture.

These facts are the actual science behind happiness…how you define it is up to YOU. In other words, you have the ability to control how you feel,and with consistent practice, you can form lifelong habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life. Hello Happiness!

More Ways to Help You Find Your Happy Place

Quotes

“Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object.” - Gretchen Rubin

" Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Ghandi

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. " - Denis Waitley

"Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. " Eleanor Roosevelt

Books

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama

10% Happier by Dan Harris

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Ted Talks

My Philosophy for a Happy Life by Sam Berns

The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance by Shawn Achor

Creating your owner's manual for a happy life by Brit Reints

#wellness #happy #takingaction #summer

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