what does it mean to be happy? (1)


What does it mean to be happy? What is happiness? Am I happy?

Why does the word happy sound so ridiculous the more times that you say it?

Deep philosophical questions no doubt. Except maybe for the last one which has absolutely no philosophical basis whatsoever.

It just does.

how do you define happiness?

An absolute definition of happiness is way beyond the scope of any Webster’s and probably even too much for a full set of Funk and Wagnalls.

The reason? Happiness means different things to all of us.

Sure, there’s overlap. An original 1968 Shelby Cobra in Sunlite Gold means happiness to all living things and probably meant happiness to a good many that were once living as well.

But even a ’68 Shelby provides degrees¬†of happiness. You’re more likely to be happier if you own one than if you just see one parked randomly across the street. Unless of course you own one and some soul-less creature decides to take a set of house keys to the rear quarter panel. Then you are decidedly un-happy. Until you get it repaired. Or until you find said soul-less creature and have a grown up discussion about keys and how they are meant to be used.

And also the different places that you can hide them.

is being happy just a feeling?

Ok, for the sake of providing a definition of happiness, let’s just call it ‘not being sad.’ Or, for that matter, not being cranky, not being jealous, not being hungry, thirsty, tired, hot, cold, hungover, sick etc etc. Let’s say that happiness ‘occurs’ when everything is perfect, everything is going our way and when we have everything that we want right here, right now and it’s all going to last forever.

That’s a damn lot to ask but let’s run with it for now.

So yeah, happiness probably is a feeling. But is it a feeling on its own or is it a feeling because other ‘feelings’ don’t exist at the same time? Can you be happy when you really, absolutely, definitely must have a steak for dinner and the fridge is full of lamb?

You can’t? But just a minute ago your team made the playoff’s, your wife’s mother decided not to visit and you found $10 behind the seat of the car ($20 if said car was a ’68 Shelby).

So where does the happy feeling go when all of a sudden things are less than perfect? More importantly, why does the happy feeling go and why, all things being equal, can just one thing not going to plan f**k us up for the next hour, day or week?

maybe happiness is more than just a feeling then?

Happiness comes and goes because we put so much faith and energy into feeling good or, at least, wanting to feel good. Quite simply we will do what it takes to avoid the bad and do as much as we can to prolong the good.

let the good times roll but for God’s sake don’t let them end


But this, when you stop and think about it, is one hell of a hard ask.

And it’s a hard ask because no matter what we do, for most of us, those good times just never seem to last. On the face of it, happiness appears cyclic, following a pattern that corresponds with the perception that things are going our way and ending again when things most definitely aren’t. Which begs the question that is getting our own way the basis of happiness?

is getting our own way the basis of being happy?


So this is where I would like to leave this post, for now, by posing this simple question.

And I am leaving it not because there is nothing left to say but because there is just so much more to say. I would think it a little pretentious and conceited to try and answer a question that has intrigued the greatest thinkers of the world in a little over a few thousand words.

Of course, it would make me happy to do this. But then again I also realise that this is just not going to happen right at this minute.

And maybe this is the key? Maybe happiness is learning to accept how things are at any given moment whether those things be good, bad or indifferent.

Maybe happiness is more than just a feeling?

Maybe happiness is a state of mind?

every man wants to be happy, but in order to be so he needs to first understand what happiness is

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 



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