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What is Happiness?

After questioning myself on the meaning of life — something I still do, by the way — I long settled that, regardless of what it might be, living a happy life and aiming to be happy is what life is all about. Happiness, though, isn’t a fixed thing. Just like the many avatars of gods, their many incarnations, happiness comes from many sources, and is often found in subtle contexts throughout life. It is not absolute, and its definition may vary from person to person: what brings me happiness might be different to what brings you happiness.

On a TED Talk, Emily Esfahani said that there’s more to life than being happy. She summarises that having a meaning in life is what our aim should be. I do not disagree, I also agree that happiness comes and goes. Yet, I don’t think we should separate meaning from happiness: having a meaning in life contributes to one happiness. I did say happiness wasn’t fixed, right? It encompasses many things.

Dr. William Glasser suggested that finding happiness was achieved by realising what to do, how to do it, and finding the strength of getting it done. He also defined happiness as:

“Enjoying the life you are choosing to live, getting along well with the people near and dear to you, doing something with your life you believe is worthwhile, and not doing anything to deprive anyone else of the same chance for the happiness you have.”

Mark Pilgrim, whom I deeply admire, used to write a blog that I, almost religiously, read. One of his posts, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” listed eight steps to accomplish it:

  1. Stop buying stuff you don’t need.
  2. Pay off your credit cards.
  3. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in your house/apartment (storage lockers, etc.)
  4. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit on the first floor of your house (attic, garage, etc.)
  5. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in one room of your house
  6. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in a suitcase
  7. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in a backpack
  8. Get rid of the backpack

Again, see how happiness morphs from person to person?

It is said that kindness makes you happy, and happiness makes you kind. I believe that. I might sound rather selfish, but each time I have done something nice for someone, it has brought happiness to me. Are we kind because we are “hooked” on that happy feeling kindness brings? Maybe. What I am trying to convey — albeit poorly — is that happiness is complex, is ever changing, and have sprinkles of uniqueness for each of us. Finding a meaning in life will make us happy; knowing those we love are happy will make us happy; loving will makes us happy, being loved will make us happy. Being happy is the ultimate goal, and the meaning of life. Also 42.

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