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Defining Happiness

Oscar Wilde said,

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?

George Burns, on the other hand, thought that happiness was

~having a large, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge didn’t expect much – he theorized that happiness in life was made up of the little charities, a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.

Whereas Aristotle agreed with Adams that: Happiness depends on ourselves.

The final word on happiness should go to Groucho Marx, who grasped the concept and the gift of living in the present moment.

I have just one day, today and I shall be happy in it.

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42 thoughts on “Defining Happiness”

  1. Happiness for me is different on different days. Some days, doing domestics fills me with joy or walking the dog. I suppose contentment might be a better description.
    For me it doesn’t have to be world shaking. A shared cup of tea, a word with a stranger.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That is the benefit of ageing, Gerard. We can slow down a bit and be grateful for small and simple pleasures. On other days, we might thrive on the adrenaline rush of intellectual stimulation and achievement. You are right, happiness presents in many different ways and experiences. Contentment is what we should strive for and happiness the bonus by-product. I read somewhere that the phrase, ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ is ridiculous because you can’t pursue it at all. How can we chase happiness?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re absolutely right. But I suppose I’m talking about Ms. and Mr Average, who experience good times and bad, without being in a truly horrible position, which sadly, too many people, even in a privileged nation like ours, still find themselves in.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think it is possible to define what makes people happy. Having a busy weekend of socializing can make someone happy and having a quiet weekend alone at home can make someone happy.
    But overall not waiting to achieve an end goal but enjoying the journey of getting there (both ups and downs) – that is happiness. 😊

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Guaranteed happiness is listening to cricket commentary on BBC radio…brings back the days when I could go to a match. Apart from that, happiness, I find, comes up on me unawares – and is most appreciated.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I like the idea of surprise happiness. A roaring joke or heartfelt communal chuckle; an inside joke that make a bond of friendship seem almost tangible – yes that is happiness.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. The little moments are important to recognize for the intrinsic rewards contained within. They may be humdrum and repetitive, but those moments can ground us and greatly increase our awareness.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Happiness! Mmmm, not sure that’s the state of mind I prefer. Contentment, now that’s a different story…happiness seems to need its opposite to exist, but contentment seems like a solid, enduring state of mind without a great deal of opposite contrast needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fantastic point that happiness requires some level of sadness in order to compare and recognise it, Chris.
      I agree contentment is an aim and a goal. Happiness a transitory by-product.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m with William Adams and also Margaret above, but I do think too that Phil makes a great point about ‘who you have by your side’. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have found (or to still have) a chosen life partner to enhance their happiness; but not being lonely and having friends to call on when needed even if you live alone (from choice or necessity) is crucial to happiness I think.

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  6. Good one, Amanda! I have a mixed media art piece hanging on my closet door next to my bed done by the lovely Pauline King from New Zealand. We lost her a couple of years ago suddenly. The art work says “choose joy” on it. I do that every day. “I have just one day, today and I shall be happy in it.” No day has ever gone according to plan so I do a hasty tap dance to turn my feet in the new direction and dance with it. You ARE as happy as you make up your mind to be. We can be sad about losses or certain events but we don’t need to live there. I can acknowledge that the unfortunate situation has happened, grieve for it and then turn my attention back to the lightness in my heart and spread that around while some spills back on me. Happiness is a choice I make each day, each moment. I only have this moment for certain. The next one may never come. I’ll be happy to have it. 🙂 Have a lovely week, Amanda.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My goodness! Your responses are always so profound and filled with wisdom. Making a deliberate choice to turn our attention back to lightness isn’t easy but with practice, the brain learns to do it faster and better. That’s neuroplasticity at work. I will keep your words in my mind and think of you when I recall them. I hope others who read them do so as well. I now have a folder on my desktop pc saving these gems. It is called Marlene’s wisdoms!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You make me blush, Amanda. I learned about neuroplasticity many years ago when trying to heal my brain from the damage Bells Palsy caused. You can rewire the brain which most don’t realize. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I’m just passing down what I learned in my journey. It’s been anything but dull. 😉 Hugs.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You sound like a person that is always willing to learn, Marlene. And listen. Many don’t and miss out on the opportunities. Fantastic that you are passing it on – paying it forward, so to speak. Hugs in return and thanks again.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. William Adams might have gotten it all right.
    Happiness comes when I decided to be happy.

    But on the other hand, what of the happiness I least expected, the happiness that didn’t ask for my consent.
    I can be happy unknowingly and will later realize or might not even realize while am happy.

    ANYWAYS, THIS IS PURE PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS THAT WILL ALWAYS HAVE NEW DEFINITION.

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  8. All worthwhile and inspiring quotes. I started out from a rather pessimistic place, and there are plenty of quotes I could toss in regarding that. I look around at the world and I’m struggling with the idea of happiness. But that’s not a new thing, is it? We aren’t the first to have bad politicians, uncalled for wars, disease, prejudice, etc. So, consider this from Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

    “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Joseph Addison

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