What is Happiness?

A rhetorical question–I’ve been avoiding these since University classes. I don’t like questions that have no answer. It seems ridiculous: Why would a question have no answer? Good question, pardon the pun. Before we continue, let’s refer to the Mecca aptly known as Wikipedia:

“A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the (often obvious) answer to the question must be…”

Great, thank you Wikipedia. What would we do without such a great resource? Ah, another rhetorical question. The goal of this blog? To explore what happiness represents in our lives. To throw away the idea that happiness is easily defined as a feeling that life is fantastic. All the time. Is there such a thing as happiness, or are we just chasing a dream posed as a bad rhetorical question?

The Definition of Happiness

images1Here’s the kicker: There is no definition. I suppose you are not surprised by this and either am I (if you have found the definition, do share). So, what is happiness? Can you, can I, describe the experience with words or is it strictly something we can only feel? I believe, and feel free to debate, that it is both of these things.

I am on a bit of a roll, I admit, to referring to my thesaurus when writing these blogs. I try not to, honestly, I do, but it’s interesting to see what the World of Words describes a complicated word like happiness as. So, what does my 20lb paperweight define it as?

>To be pleased (no points for creativity here!)

>To feel happy (no kidding)

>To be wreathed in smiles…hmm

And finally, among other repetitive words, I find this:

>To look like the cat that swallowed the canary

Wow, I wish I could tell you I were joking–particularly about that last suggested definition. I sincerely desired an answer to the rhetorical question. I sincerely did not expect a reference to a cat or goddamn canary.

Happiness is Content

images2Happiness is a feeling of content. It is the feeling we get when we move forward in life; when we achieve goals we have set for ourselves. Large and small. Working hard to obtain stability, that can create a feeling of content, and it should. Working to recover from relapse this too is a huge accomplishment. The things we tackle in life, the things that challenge us, these are the things that spur a feeling of happiness. Feeling like we have achieved something that is important to us makes life shine a little brighter, it might make us smile, and make us feel proud.

It’s the little things. Sometimes, the smaller achievements in life, things that can occur on a daily basis, create a feeling of content. Visiting with friends and family. Helping others. Learning something new. Growing as a person. The small steps we take to maintain or find a stable life make us feel good.

Happiness, having no exact definition, is hard to explore. It’s like writing a research paper with no resources. What is happiness? Happiness is as simple as it is complicated: the pursuit to create a life that we feel comfortable living in, that we feel content exploring, it is a feeling that we can apply words to. But words that have a personal meaning to us.

What makes you feel content?

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One Response to What is Happiness?

  1. Wikipedia: Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

    Though what makes some people happy is not what others feel. It’s an internal feeling that I still strive to find some days

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