What is Happiness? And Are You Pursuing It?

If I ask people to tell me in their own words What is Happiness?, I am typically met with perplexing looks and vague responses. The most common response – “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.

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!

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?

The dictionary defines happiness as, “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 determine what makes us happy.

Pause to consider what it means to you to be happy.

  • 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?

How does one pursue happiness?

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, when the government did not do things to them, or even for them, but with them.”

via The Pursuit of Happiness: What the Founders Meant—And Didn’t – Kathleen Kennedy Townsend – The Atlantic.

Just what is happiness?

Freedom?

Lack of Stress?

Distraction?

Gratitude?

Here are a  few of the responses I got when I asked this question -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.”

Whether the constitution specifically spelled out the right to pursue happiness or not, I believe it is an essential element to life.

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.

Homework: 

  1. Answer each of the questions – you may want to start a journal or a blog to reflect on your journey.
  2. Share your thoughts with us! (Leave a comment, make a post in the Facebook Group, or even shout out on Twitter!)
  3. Commit to pursuing happiness with renewed enthusiasm!

Creative Expression:

- Gather images that represent what happiness means to you. Make a photo album, or a collage and share with us! (Make sure to post your links and/or use hashtag #butterflymaiden so we can find you to interact with you!)

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,

Janet Louise Stephenson signature
Your Transformation Tour Guide

What is happiness?

 

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4 Responses

  1. Deone Higgs
    | Reply

    Great question, Janet! I am pursuing happiness daily! I think one has too. It’s not one of those feelings that come over us that lingers just because we’ve found it in a moment. I believe it’s a process that we must undergo, and choose to “be” until the day we leave this world.  In my opinion, one person, place, thing, or idea doesn’t equate to one’s happiness. It’s a collective group of choices we make that ensure our happiness. Things like surrounding ourselves with the “right” people, staying open to every experience that could potentially bring us happiness, and seizing the opportunity to master the calling of our purpose in life. These certainly aren’t the only things that will bring us happiness, but they’re attributes that bring us a sense of fulfillment and enlightenment. Another thing I believe is worthy of our taking into consideration is that since we all are meant to be evolving, we should also remind ourselves that our needs and desires will also evolve. What may have made us happy yesterday, isn’t promised to make us happy today or even tomorrow. The best thing I have found essential to my happiness is to be mindful and present of the here and now. Loved the post, beloved! :)

    • JanetLouise8
      | Reply

      @Deone Higgs I so enjoy it when you pop by my blog to leave a comment, Deone! Such wisdom in your responses! The reminder that we are constantly evolving is timely and well-received, thank you. I also love this: “seizing the opportunity to master the calling of our purpose in life. ” I might just quote you on that one!

  2. Lisa Haché-Maguire
    | Reply

    I think that what ol’ Benny was talking about was two things depending on my mood: purpose, meaning and fulfillment or true openhearted love. A mentor once told me that happiness is simply a state of not wanting, and that made sense to me. Fulfillment though purpose and meaning… Completely opening my heart to love – that shit is where my brain goes when we talk happiness.

    Thanks for the reminder lady! Mmmm! Restoked my fire.

    • Janet Louise Stephenson
      | Reply

      “Happiness is a state of not wanting.” I like this. I like it a lot. Makes me curious, though – do you consider contentment to be happiness, Lisa?

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