Ever since I can remember I have always been curious about many things in life and I am constantly questioning everything. This has included happiness. In this post, I include what I believe happiness to be and what friends and family have told me what happiness means to them. This is an excerpt from one of my chapters from the memoir: A Happy Heart of my Own.
“In general, I knew certain pleasurable experiences not only made me joyful, but others, as well. I asked friends and family what they considered happiness to be and their answers ranged from playing their favorite sport, to helping others, or simply being in nature. Marcos, a friend of mine, began his response with telling me that happiness to him meant ‘not being stressed.’ And I couldn’t agree with him more. Since when does stress and happiness occur simultaneously? It doesn’t. One of my family members, Karina, answered by saying, ‘For me it’s when I run and feel the presence of the Lord and I have this immense feeling of gratefulness for everything in my life.’ Another family member of mine, Gloria, very humble began with, ‘I can’t explain true happiness” and added, “all I can say is that I know it when I feel it. Family, friends, humanity, humility, gratefulness, waking to another day, thunder, lighting, the sunshine, a smile, a hug, even nothing can make me feel happiness! But, I can truly say that I experienced true happiness when I learned self-love, when I leaned in to clear my mind and let peace take over. So, happiness to me turns out to be LIFE itself.’
This same harmony, joy, and peace are seen in my friend Carlos’ definition on happiness. He says, ‘For me, happiness is akin to knowing that I am alive. There is something so special going on this planet of ours, something that we’ve yet to discover anywhere else in the universe and most of us (again, particularly in industrialized nations) act as if we couldn’t care less. We have to stop every now and then and take a step back in wonder and amazement. Put things in perspective and take life, with all its glitches, and treat it like what it is: the best, most unique gift in the world.’
What a beautiful combination of different interpretations on happiness. As each expressed what happiness meant to them, I understood and felt it as a rejoicing in all that proved to be of profound delight in their hearts. What was salient in their takes on happiness was a feeling, a connection, and an alignment with spirit: a complete and selfless, unconditional love of life and love for oneself.
After my family and friends expressed what happiness meant to them, I was left with an unwavering desire to define happiness for myself. I questioned whether mere instances in our lives would be the only defining moments that made us achieve this state or could we live happily all the time?
Here is my take on happiness:
“In many ways, the result of this search for my own happiness led me to believe that it is as simple and as sweet as one’s own joie de vivre. I can’t recall the exact date when all this started to happen, but I clearly remember a consistency that came with waking up day after day and being content and filled with gratitude for the light of another day. Not to mention, how truly blessed I was for seeing my life as beautiful and, even more, living it as such. The great and late pianist of the twentieth century, Arthur Rubinstein, once said, ‘I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.’ Pure and simple. I can think of no better way of expressing this sentiment of a constant state of happiness other than to see life as beautiful and to love it. For me, this has translated as living life to the fullest with joy and peace in our hearts because this is what we feel and have within us; it’s who we are. And when we radiate this love, it follows that we not only see our environment and others in a different light, but we also take pleasure and delight through the benefit of receiving love in return. And, for the first time, I wasn’t seeing my life through rose-colored glasses. Happiness wasn’t the result of luck as I had once thought, but it was the result of my unyielding pursuit of it. I had come into harmony on my own accord and I was truly happy.”
What makes you happy? What do you define as happiness?