Happiness is. . .

Happiness is….well what, exactly. Is anybody ever truly happy? Do we even know what it means to be happy?

This is a question that I’ve been pondering quite a lot in the last month or so. As you will know if you’ve read my last few blog posts I’ve been very busy over the last three weeks. I’ve done lots of things that have been a lot of fun; I got to see lots of my friends, and favourite comedians and laughed until my tummy hurt. I got to see my two best friends get married and I got to hang out with my brother. 

All these things are good things, and things that make me happy. But these are just moments of happiness, amongst all this were other moments when I felt sad or annoyed or lonely or just not quite content with my situation or the world around me. Surely everyone feels like this though? Is there anyone out there who can say they are truly happy with everything about their life? And I suppose the question is, would you want to be? If you were happy with every aspect of your life then what would there be to aim for? In the words of the brilliant Oscar Hammerstein ‘You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you going to have a dream come true’. (On the subject of dreams and whether or not we should have them, you really should have a read of this blog by the lovely, and talented, Chasity Flyte). Perhaps you have to have the other moments, of feeling sad, or angry or just plain miserable, in order to appreciate the times when you really are happy.

So am I happy? I think so, most of the time. This time last year, I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going. I had a boring job, which more importantly, didn’t actually pay me enough to live on, I was fat, and it felt like my life was going nowhere. And that was when I decided to take the leap on to my teacher training course. It was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life and if I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure it was the right one. Only time, and experience of teaching in the real world is going to tell me that. But it’s going to give me the opportunity to move to London which I might not have had otherwise (or at least it would have been a lot more difficult), and at last, after 10 years of drifting along, I will actually have a career, rather than just a job. And fortunately, one that pays me enough and gives me enough time off to do all the other things that make me happy. And as regular readers will know, I’ve dealt with the being fat part too – although that is an ongoing challenge and will be for a long time to come. As I’ve said before, I knew that losing weight would make me happier, but I also knew it wasn’t the magic fix to all my problems. What losing weight does is mean that I can’t blame anything else on being fat, I have to deal with the root of the problem.

I love the little things in life that can make a person happy; for me it’s things like getting a compliment from a friend, or being told that I missed when I’m not there, or driving along singing as loud as I can to one of my favourite songs, or playing my ukulele, or reminiscing with my brother about stupid things we did when we were kids, or staying up late, drinking booze and watching action movies with my Dad, or more recently, being thanked by the kids at school when they realise I’m not going to be teaching them any more. These are all the things that make me happy. And of course there are the bigger things too, like being lucky enough to own my own flat and affording to live here, and having a family who are healthy, and having some great friends and all those other clichés. 

Then there are the things that make me mad; some of them little things, like my neighbour taking my parking space, or people cancelling on me at the last minute, or people who wander aimlessly down busy streets. And the bigger things like the fact that our country is going to hell in a hand cart and so many people don’t vote because they think it’s not their problem. Or the fact that children are being brought up to believe in gods that don’t exist (if adults want to believe then that’s entirely up to them, but it makes me so mad that so many children aren’t given a choice). 

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think anyone can say, with utmost certainty, ‘I am happy’. We need all the crappy stuff to balance it out. And that’s what it is about; balance. I’m sure someone has come up with an equation, but I reckon if I’m happy 75% of the time, I’m taking that one as a win. I’d be really interested to hear what other people think about this… Are you happy? What do you think happiness is? And can anyone ever really be happy all the time?

9 thoughts on “Happiness is. . .

  1. Very interesting read once again sarah.

    I find myself pondering this question on a regular basis.

    My life does not contain the conventional things that we are taught will make us happy. Sometimes I covet the paths of marriage and motherhood, but then i remember that people who already have these things, often long for the independence and freedom that I revel in.

    The way I measure my happiness is based on my previously experienced levels of happiness. So long as I am more content than I have been previously, I know I am actually happy. As soon as I start feeling less content than I have been, I know I need to push for change.

    You have to have new things to aspire to otherwise you lose your passion for living. I personally think that if you don’t want to improve life, whether it is little things for yourself or mammoth things with global implications, you lose what it means to be you.

    I have to say that 75% is not too shabby. I have never thought of it in percentages before but I think I would probably only be reaching 56%.

    Nothing quite as exhilarating as chasing a new improbable challenge.

  2. i see it this way: life will always have ups and downs, and i don't think they equate directly into happiness.
    people who are unhappy still seem to be unhappy when a probkem goes away or a good thing turns up. people who are happy still seem happy when a new problem turns up.
    it all depends how you look at things.

    obviously, how you are spending your day, how much time you spend with people, and what you do and eat, will all have big affects. but it's the lot of the essentially happy person to tackle and change those things (like you're doing) rather than letting them reign.


    “I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy because my life didn't turn out the way I thought it would.” Hey! Join the fucking club, ok!? I thought I was going to be the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Socks. Life sucks, get a fucking helmet, allright?! “I'm not happy. I'm not happy.” Nobody's happy, ok!? Happiness comes in small doses folks. It's a cigarette, or a chocolate cookie, or a five second orgasm. That's it, ok! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, ok!? That is it! End of fucking list!

    Now, while Mr Leary was perhaps being a little coarser than I would about this, I think he has a point. The fleeting moments thing. Or at least small disjointed inconsitencies.

    People that seem to think that there is a definite happiness-nirvana we should all strive to attain always talk in really final terms. (“Settling down”, anyone? And, don't get me started on bloody so-glad-we-made-it songs…)

    Remember it's only the pursuit of happiness that any rational person would proscribe.

  4. Great blog Sarah.

    To me happiness is not a constant, it is in the moment. So you could ask if I was happy right now in this moment and I would say no (I have a cold and feel a bit bleurgh). I guess I could say whether the last few days have been happy overall, but I can guarantee there were moments where I was sad or annoyed at something or someone.

    But yes I think you are all right, you need “downs” in order to appreciate the “ups”, life certainly is a rollercoaster.

    Percentages is a nice way of looking at it, if you had to weigh up your moments from the last week, what percentage would be happy ones? But we all have good and bad days out of our control which could pull this statistic down, for example a bad day at work (like for me an aggressive or dead patient) which would lead to stressful or sad moments, this doesn't mean I hate my job. On the contrary I love it, the fact that such things happen and are dealt with well as part of a team and yes some adrenaline and time to reflect make it what I want to do. I hope that you will find such an attachment to your new career, even if it is not always described as making you happy. Sometimes a challenge is just as good.

  5. I agree with everyone's sentiments. I am happy, I am sad, I am confused, stressed, excited, anxious, nervous, content, inspired, interested, angry and happy again. Life emotions come and go, happiness is just an emotion right? You feel it, like you feel all the other emotions.

    From the stupid guy or girl on the road that cuts you up, the long queues, the work which piles up or the family losses or gloomy days. To the friendships, compliments, words of encouragement, great songs, comedy, photos, memories and fun had. It's all just life, it sounds so cliched but I suppose it's true. I love life and the good and the bad is going to come and go, and that's fine.

  6. Happiness is what you make it I guess. Some people are really bubbly and it could be said that they are happy. I suppose that gives them further to fall when something upsets them. I am not one of them. I plod along and its the moments that make me smile and laugh that mean more to me. If you're happy ALL the time, you can't truly be happy as there's no high for you in times when others can be eliciting everything they can from a situation. I prefer getting those moments when I know I'm happy rather than when I assume I must be happy. REally I'm just contented.

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