blogging, Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Sunday Reflections – Happiness

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on

Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal.

Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on

When life gives you every reason to be negative, thinking of one good reason to be postive is helpful. There is so much to be grateful for.

Kindness and gratitude are the way forward. Looking to others is not the road to fulfillment.

Lao Tzu’s words may shift focus from inside our thoughts and heads to external thinking:

If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.

Lao Tzu

Finally this from Alan Cohen

“Be happy with what you have.

Be excited about what you want.”

79 thoughts on “Sunday Reflections – Happiness”

    1. Setting tasks or goal setting in a lockdown situation, or any languid, boring situation is kind of vital for some people’s sanity. I tend to think it is a good practice anyway, (Note to self: I must do more of it), as it often results in more productivity, be that in the home or workspace. And that has the spin off of assisting towards happier feelings, perhaps?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so glad to hear that Nathaniel’s quote speaks to you! I love quotes and proverbs that reach our moods and thoughts! I think the quote is quite beautiful, Linda and alludes to the transient nature of feelings. Both happy and sad feelings. When we are sad, it feels like an eternity and it won’t stop, yet it does pass and the energy moves at some point. We just have to get through it. Likewise, focusing on and desiring happiness at all times is not so realistic. The analogy of a butterfly is quite beautiful too.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Switching my mentality from lack to gratitude changed my life. Finding something to be grateful for, even when you feel like you have nothing, is true happiness.

    What one thing are you grateful for this week?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have stumbled upon one of the secrets to building happy moods and feelings, I think. Find that one thing – at least. There are many but when the day is a difficult one, the focus sticks with what is going wrong. One thing can lighten the mood and shift focus. Above all, I am grateful to have my family around me and that is often where my gratitude goes. Secondly, I have a comfortable lifestyle in retirement and I am always grateful for the relaxed start to my day, the choices I have, the sun shining and the beautiful beach a short distance away. I am very fortunate.
      May I ask if there was some cathartic event that enabled you to discover this technique for happiness?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very insightful.

        I wouldn’t say it was one event, rather a combination of things as a result of heartbreak. I was left with a simple choice: let heartbreak consume me, or figure out how to overcome it. My decision to overcome it led me on an intense journey to improve both my mind and my body.

        I guess you could say that the biggest change I made was meditation. As someone who, for a time, was afraid to know himself, it was a challenge to get comfortable being in my own mind. But, by learning how to become self-aware through meditation, I started to recognize that my focus was on what I lost and not what I had. Once that focus changed, my life changed.

        I’ve found that most people have an even in their life that they contribute to their reason for self-introspection. If you don’t mind me asking, what was yours?


        1. Thank you for your honest and candid response. I love that you figured out how to switch your focus for your own strength and benefit. Many don’t and sink into the well of depression. I often wonder what makes the difference. Do you have to get to the depths of the abyss to realize that we ourselves, need to figure out how to move up and out?
          For me, I can’t say it was a single event, but a cumulative build up of wanting to change my thoughts. I became fed up with the line of thinking that wasn’t helpful. My son was ill for a time so that certainly contributed to looking for answers. Slowly I came to realize it was completely useless to concentrate so hard and be so mindful of things I had no control over. I had little energy left. So what energy I did have, I could put to good use, creating a more positive environment and focusing on things I could do, not anything I couldn’t. Meditation practise in various forms, definitely played a part in that. And continues to expand my thoughts in a more positive direction.
          Would you say that in some ways, these events are the turning point that we need to have in order to spark the introspection?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s a tough question because of what you said: “Many don’t and sink into the well of depression.”

            For me, and many others; yes, those ‘devastating’ events are the turning point we need to have. Likewise, there’s an equal amount of people who suffer from the same events and never make it out.

            I believe what makes the difference between these two types of people is their ‘reason’ to change. On the surface, everyone wants to change, or so they say they do, but most don’t understand ‘why’ they want to.

            Coming out of an event as harsh as your son being ill or heartbreak is not easy; often that journey is more difficult than the event itself. Choosing not to walk that path and letting it consume you is less painful than having to take responsibility for your own cause in whatever that event was.

            Without a strong enough reason ‘why’ we want to overcome it, we’ll never have the strength or the desire to choose the more difficult route. Those who try and fail don’t fail because they didn’t try hard enough, rather, they didn’t understand emotionally why they wanted to change in the first place.

            Is there a single reason you found that drove you to continue moving in the more difficult, positive direction?


            1. An overriding and slightly desperate sense of hope and belief that circumstances had to get better, because for them to get worse was for me, frighteningly unthinkable.
              “On the surface everyone wants to change,” but there are a few that can’t and feel guilt that they are unable to do so. The neural pathways are so entrenched that it means they do not have the capacity to change. It is like a foreigh language. They don’t know the words. How can we awaken those deeply silent neural networks?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. For the longest time I believed that change wasn’t possible, until I changed myself. Just like learning a foreign language, while it may seem impossible at first, with enough time and practice, you will start to learn the language.

                It’s cliche to say that in order to awaken those neural networks, you must learn how to tap into them, but that’s exactly what you need to do.

                Most people live their life on auto pilot. To prove this theory, take a walk down the street and ask anyone how they are. The immediate response you’ll find is “good, how are you?” There’s no thought because there’s no self-awareness.

                To awaken those deeply silent neural networks, people have to understand the importance of self-awareness and how to get it. This best way is by spending time with yourself and getting to know yourself (essentially meditation), but I’ve also found that making a habit of journaling your thoughts and feelings every day helps just as much. Our minds are entrenched by thoughts, feelings, and emotions all day long. In order to free them, we must first clear them.

                Would you agree, or have you found another way to awaken the deeply silent neural networks?


    1. Let it come to you, Ang. When we chase material things, we think will bring us happiness, it, we also have to focus strongly on that goal, but mistakes and frustrations thwart our progress and drain our energies. As Nathaniel’s quote suggests, relaxing and sitting quietly can have many benefits, including postive happy feelings letting the mind take the day off! Have a lovely weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The term itself – happiness – is interesting because the common meaning has morphed quite a bit since, say, the US Constitution preamble was written and made the term central to individual autonomy and from which authority to govern arises – from the bottom up, so to speak, rather than from the top down.

    Pursuit of this state as written in that preamble is revealing in that it’s not about some interior happiness or contentment or laughing and having a good time. The sense is much deeper than that and something as essential as life and liberty themselves, a core social value.

    These terms had meanings relevant to the Enlightenment thinkers from which they came to us in print. (The same is true for the idea of ‘all men are born equal…’ and what that ‘equal’ actually meant at the time of writing – especially by slave holders! Hint: it’s not what most people assume it means today and has everything to do with what it meant back in the day, namely primogeniture law – the oldest male inheriting.) In this enlightenment sense, pursuing ‘happiness’ is about directing one’s own life in whatever way the individual thinks is desirable, that there’s a sense of working towards, of gaining a sense of value, of seeking longer term satisfaction and eventually increasing self-reward through earned attainment and position and respect and enough wealth to be not only autonomous but then becoming a contributing member to a larger public good through benefactor status.

    I just thought this sense was interesting compared to today’s sense of the term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gaining or working towards a sense of value and contributing to the public good; self-reward through individual attainment (not sure of the context of the word: position here) and respect: these are all well thought out guidelines for the time and most still applicable in that they relate to Maslows hierarchy of needs.
      Perhaps position and becoming a benefactor is somewhat outdated?
      I do like the importance placed on personal self determination!


      1. Having a notion that we go forth and seek (or discover) happiness as if it were a thing, state, or condition to be obtained – or perhaps should fall upon our shoulders as if mana from heaven – I think lies at the root of the problem of understanding what ‘it’ is. (This harkens back to the importance of understanding what real problems actually are because if you can’t identify the problem, you’re not going to come up with good solutions!) So the response to this notion that it’s not ‘out there’ but ‘in here’ is still the same problem if happiness is considered a thing, state, or condition and this leads one to continue believing that one can purchase or own or obtain ‘it’ in some way.

        So I raised the preamble to show that ‘happiness’ was once considered a vital value to be pursued similar to life, similar to liberty, as fundamental to living as these.

        Thinking of ‘happiness’ in this way alters the value from framing it is a-thing-to-possess-but-rarely-obtained into an action, that it is through action, through living well (pursuing), that ‘happiness’ can be reasonably shared by all, experienced by all, and through this pursuit can then produce a general good. It’s all about living as an action – including all the components of suffering that come with it – that produces frames this notion of ‘happiness’. This changes the emphasis to living well, to engaging with life on its terms and affirming the pursuit is what matters, what unlocks meaning and amplifies life’s value. I think this is a key insight, that we are the captains of our own life’s ship no matter what storms and shoals and sunrises our ship may encounter. Living well, pursuing happiness, is all in the captaining. It’s not about the ship.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Not about the ship! No, I agree there. That is like saying it is all about the destination, not the journey, an oft used adage. If we merely focus on the destination, or the final conclusive attainment of the concept of happiness, we block out all the contributing experiences that may give us joy and lose a lot of time focusing on how we get ‘there.’ I like the way you describe happiness as an action. That is easier to conceptualize. We may find joyful endeavour in our actions. Be that in relaxing, working hard or somewhere in between.
          A sense of completion or a sense of achievement is more akin to happiness as a destination, is it not? In that it is the end product! Am I just waffling here, or does this make sense to you, Tildeb?


          1. Well, I don’t know what happiness is as an object or goal or attainment or any of the emotions that may accompany these, but I do have an idea from the enlightenment sense that the value from ‘happiness’ – and the need for this fundamental right to direct our own actions – is in the pursuing… and that what derives from the actions chosen is what becomes meaningful for the person doing this pursuing, that we create our own meaning by doing this and that this action then informs the value for the pursuit. Meaning and value are self-created and these are the building blocks, the essential ingredients, to creating a life lived well that goes by the generic term ‘happiness’. In other words, happiness is self-directed and not revealed, not given, not inherited. And each of us has the fundamental right to undertake this process (and as long as the pursuing respects life and liberty, I presume).

            Does that clarify anything at all or is it clear as mud?


            1. Totally clear! I should have clarified that whilst some may think, chase and feel they derive happiness from a sense of completion or reaching a certain attainment, (ie a goal or a destination), I no longer think that. I once did, about thirty years ago, but experience and living life and getting older reformed my opinion!
              Such an interesting discussion! Thanks ever so much for your input. Have you studied philosophy and wisdoms?


              1. I guess the stock answer would be, “More than some, less than others.” I did have a fantastic liberal arts program at one university but this was more of a starting point for me on how to read texts for understanding rather than evaluation, how to ask questions, how think about ideas, how to compare and contrast, how to make connections, how to separate context from content, and so on, recognizing that I could only get out of stuff what I was willing to bring to it. It may not sound like much but it is everything! This is ‘source material’ for appreciation and gratitude. And it covered a vast swath of philosophy and religion and art because these were the driving factors for so much of history. So I have a lot of foundational knowledge in many areas but not nearly enough in any one for real expertise. Like ‘happiness’, knowledge – and the deeper understanding that accompanies its endless avenues – is a pursuit that produces deepening meaning and greater value!

                But one thing I will say: the pursuit is not about producing answers; it’s all about raising important questions, learning how to learn in a variety of ways, so to speak. Learning that how we think very much determines what we think and that there are many ways to do this producing different results. So the meaning and value of the pursuit depends very much on how much I bring to it and the people I learn from. That’s why source material is quite important, learning from ‘the horse’s mouth’ and then comparing and contrasting and connecting with various criticisms of it. So the particular subject doesn’t really matter other than my original interest in finding out ‘more’, that difficult subjects (like, say, Quantum Theory and mechanics) present blocks and these blocks, these failures to understand, represent an opportunity to change up how I think and find a better, more productive way. And that’s why I raised the issue of ‘happiness’ utilizing an understanding of what has come before in regards to its definition to guide my understanding, appreciation, and gratitude today.


              2. Fascinating! In particular, this interests me greatly: “Learning that how we think very much determines what we think and that there are many ways to do this producing different results.” Both in academic intellectual terms and personal emotions of positivity. How can we tap into thinking differently? Or is that a lengthy process that evolves over time and broad scale reading?


  3. Sunday Reflections – Happiness

    On Saturday, August 28, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is > always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may > alight upon you.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on > Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal. Happin” >


  4. A beautiful quote about happiness, Amanda. I also gravitate to the word “content.” Thank you for sharing a positive post with gems to feed my soul. ❤️


    1. I concur that contentment is a more realistic goal than happiness. Happiness seems much more transient than contentment, Eric/ka. Regardless of the term, the way we get to that point may end up being quite similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What is happiness, after all ..?
    Something that comes and goes at will?
    Something we have the power to call upon whenever we seek to fill that loving cup?
    Or is it just a thing we use to blind ourselves: a way of stirring up the dust that’s settled quietly on the shelves of memory?
    Can it really be here?
    With us?
    And can we hold it long enough to clearly see what form it has ?
    I once was told that happiness can be likened to a breath of wind from long ago, that whirls and eddies ’round and through our lives ..
    And that we cannot know whence e’er it came; nor is it known if happiness will go, or stay.
    But certainly we cannot own the wind, no matter what we’d pay.


  6. What a fabulous collection of quotes Amanda. It was hard to pick one to stand out as a favourite, but if I had to, I think it would be this one, Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The most important one, Chris! We waste our opportunities and privileges if we concentrate merely on our ‘wants,’ and desires, without stopping to take stock appreciate and enjoy the lovely things and people around us.


  7. Amanda, thanks. I found this sentence, which I believe are your words, very practical and something we can all do with an earnest effort.

    “When life gives you every reason to be negative, thinking of one good reason to be positive is helpful. There is so much to be grateful for.”

    Thanks, Keith


    1. They are my words, Keith. At least I think so. I may have adapted them. It is a bit like the adage, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Useful, proactive stuff! This morning I was down on the beach exercising with a Qi Gong group and the simple pleasures of having clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, a beautiful view to look at, calming waves across the bay to the islands, a kind group to exercise with, the choice and freedom to do so, the peace to live a quiet life is so much to be grateful for and this is shortly after I had arisen in the morning. We forget such simple pleasures. I am in not in Kabul either, there is another….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I do like that quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne, I think it’s spot on. I’m also reminded of another favourite quote (which I’ve seen attributed to everyone from Martin Luther to a Chinese proverb!): You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the edginess of that quote, whoever said it. The touch of humour, of laughing at a “shitty” situation, despite it being a problem and the metaphor of birds of sadness. As I have reiterated before, sadness (like a bird) passes over us, it rarely stays put forever.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks to Pexels library for the butterfly pic. The beach pic featured is mine though. Thanks for popping by, Donna! I feel like I ask this all the time, but are things with Covid improving over your way? I recently heard there was another wave amongst the unvaccinated population.


  9. Chasing after something too vehemently might lead to exhaustion. Everything in moderation and slow gently physical activity is more my thing. A clear goal and steady advancement. And you?


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