One of my favorite questions to ask people is “What is Happiness?” Typically, I’m met with perplexing looks and vague responses. The most common answer across the board: “Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not really sure.”
So, here we are, living in a country built on a foundation that offers its citizens the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – yet, the majority of Americans have no idea how to define happiness.
Here’s an interesting tidbit for you – originally, our founding fathers wrote “life, liberty, and property”, but at the urging of Benjamin Franklin who felt that the word ‘property’ was too constricting, changed it to ‘pursuit of happiness’. They agreed that a basic human instinct and inalienable right was the desire to pursue MORE than simply material wealth = happiness.
Fast forward 200+ years, and while we understand we have the right to pursue happiness, most of us don’t actually understand what it means to be happy!
Before we go on, let’s see if you have an answer to the question.
What is happiness to you?
- How do YOU define happiness?
- What does it mean to BE happy?
- Is it a feeling? A thought? A color? An experience? A memory?
- Is it fleeting or long-lasting?
- Would you recognize it if you experienced it?
The dictionary defines happiness as,
“a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.“
To me, this is a vague and wide encompassing statement that can mean something different to each person.
Perhaps happiness is a universal state of well-being, and the path each of takes to get there is how we individually determine what makes us happy.
Our Founding Fathers “believed that you attained happiness, not merely through the goods you accumulated, or in your private life, but through the good that you did in public. People were happy when they controlled their destiny, when their voice was heard, when they participated in public events…”
So what is happiness?
Freedom? Distraction? Lack of stress? Gratitude?
Here are a few of the responses I got when I asked this particular question last week… that is, when I wasn’t met with a ‘deer in the headlights’ stare:
“Small moments when you forget about everything else – no worries, no stress… hiking, sailing, flying a kite.”
“To me, it’s lack of a list needing attention right now.”
“It’s free time to spend however you like.”
Challenge: Pause to consider your personal definition of happiness. Contemplate whether you are currently pursuing it and whether or not you’ve given that responsibility away.
- What makes you happy?
- What are you doing to pursue happiness?
- When was the last time you felt truly happy?
- Who is responsible for YOUR happiness?
I invite you to explore what happiness means to you and get on track to pursuing some more of it.
With mucho a latte of love and respect,