What Is Happiness?

Throughout the history of mankind, one of the main objectives of the human race, if not the core one behind every other objective, has been to attain happiness.
In fact, Aristotle stated that happiness is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake. He observed that men sought riches not for the sake of being rich, but to be happy. Those who sought fame desired it not to be famous, but because they believed fame would bring them happiness.

But what is happiness?

The dictionary says happiness is:
1. joy, the emotion of being happy.
2. Good luck; good fortune; prosperity.
3. An agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the possession of those circumstances or that state of being which is attended enjoyment; the state of being happy; contentment; joyful satisfaction; felicity; blessedness.

But what is it that makes us happy?

Some of the states associated with happiness include success, delight, health, safety, contentment, wealth, fame and love.
But still, being wealthy, healthy, loved, safe or the whole lot together doesn’t guarantee a person to be happy.

Happiness, I think, is unquantifiable and undefinable, because we don’t know what will really make us happy; we do things to reach certain goals in an attempt to gain happiness, but it’s not always the case, and we often find ourselves reaching goals that do nothing for us.

On the other hand, some things as small as a child’s smile, a word from the heart, a passing thought, a nod of appreciation, a moment for yourself can make you feel happy.

Happiness is complicated and simple at the same time, depending on how a person looks at life, I guess.

“How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea… All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

It’s also impossible to define happiness because it’s different for every single person.

Happiness to me is being with my wife and son, a fruitful fulfilling day at work, knowing that my close family are doing well, coming up with a new cool idea, reading a good book, taking a dip in a beautiful cold clear-watered sea, being able to indulge in one of my favourite pass-times, treating myself or my small family to some the things we want… and the list goes on… and to me, happiness obviously lies in the small details and things of life.

What is happiness to you?

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Mohamed Marwen Meddah is a web development director, amateur photographer and web enthusiast from Tunisia, currently living in Canada.

3 thoughts on “What Is Happiness?”

  1. GREAT posting, many thanks for your thoughts!

    The Happiness Habit defines a happy life as “pleasant & pleasing,
    purposeful and productive,
    prosperous and spiritually successful.”

    We define Happiness as “the energized, elevated emotion we experience when we enjoy, appreciate or achieve a worthwhile goal.”

    Hope this helps!

    Michele Moore, author of
    How To Live A Happy Life –
    101 Ways To Be Happier

  2. What is happiness to you?
    A few brief epiphanies scattered along life’s road. If the condition became a steady state, I’d think I’d become a self-delusional Pollyanna and seek dour pills from a psychiatrist. (No, not implying that any of you are who weigh in as happy are self-delusional; perception of and reaction to life are, however, uniquely a matter of hereditary and conditioning.)

    But Firefox’s new real-time spelling checker feature makes me happy. 🙂 Though epiphany isn’t quite my reaction to it. Muted joy, perhaps. 🙂



  3. @Michele Moore: Thanks 🙂 An interesting definition you got there.

    @Jimbo: I was going to write about that too in the post, that happiness is basically never a steady state, you have moments of happiness, but it’s never a continuous flow.

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