What Is Happiness Anyway?


If you were to ask the average person what they most wanted for themselves or their kids, I think many would say “happiness” topped their list. But I also think this is about as far as many people go with what one could argue needs to be a necessary examination of something so important to you.

For starters, do you even know what being happy means, what it costs or even how to get there? I don’t think we do. Which is why it’s so easy for us to be manipulated into believing all kinds of things when it comes to what happiness is and where it comes from.

“Good fortune, prosperity, a state of well-being and contentment” are what the dictionary has to say about happiness. Seems like something worth going for. These days though, this worthy state is fraught with all kinds of problems, misdirections and brainwashing.

In our heavily influenced and commercialized world we are being sold to by billion dollar companies what well-being and good fortune looks like. Guess what? Happiness looks exactly like having things. Their things in the shape and form of products and services. Or perhaps it’s all about having lots of followers or garnering lots of likes for curating your life on social media and exploiting yourself by posting it all to be used as a kind of fodder for your ever-hungry “friends.”

Then there are all the streaming and online services that make their images of other people look so enticing, while creating big feelings in you. These externally induced feelings are what you go on to equate with a kind of contentment and good fortune that compel you to sit and watch for hours on end as figures on a screen go on to have the life you want. Or maybe, being glued in front of a screen helps you forget the life you are living that you don’t want.

Either way, you call it happiness.

Of course we can’t forget about the drugs. All the wonderful drugs that will create a pseudo state of happiness that can be purchased in pot shops or through ask your doctor campaigns. And if that’s not your jam, your happiness can be bought by your next online purchase and delivered right to your door the next day. No effort on your part other than to push a button.

None of this is happiness and we deserve better. We deserve better than to believe our well-being can be bought and sold. We deserve better than to medicate ourselves into some false and illusory state that we now equate with contentment. But because so many of us are doing it, we don’t much question ourselves, and even if we do, we hide out under the cover of the herd.

As much as we may be going along for this ride, deep down, we know we are being lied to. More to the point, we know we are lying to ourselves. That’s why whatever we do in this modern day frantic pursuit of happiness always falls flat, always needs another fix, and always is at the hands and mercy of a thing that someone else is willing to sell us.

Happiness is an inside job. It doesn’t look like what Hollywood portrays and it definitely does not come in a pill. It is hard won. It is fleeting. It is honest. It is a choice. It is enduring in its simplicity and it is personal to you. What might it look like?

Personally, I take my cues here from a synonym for happiness. “Blessed.” What is it that makes you feel blessed? For me, it looks like watching the moon or your kid play t-ball. It looks like sitting down for a meal you prepared with those you love. It looks like being with a good friend for a walk in the woods. It looks like getting your chance to be here and learning and growing yourself into who you most want to be.