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Reflections on Happiness

  • Published: 2011-11-28 (Rev. 2016-06-14) - Contact: Martina Roe
  • Synopsis: Excellent article by Martina Roe on how to be happy as well as how to achieve and enjoy the feeling of happiness.

Definition: Happiness

A mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including Positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how we might attain it. Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. Happiness in this older sense was used to translate the Greek Eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics. Happiness economics suggests that measures of public happiness should be used to supplement more traditional economic measures when evaluating the success of public policy - Wikipedia

Main Document

"Several years ago I was asked who was the most important person in my life and after much thought, I must have mentioned members of my family."

Sixty years ago, people were apparently much happier than they are today, so I wonder why. Life back then was definitely much simpler. Today we have so many more possibilities and opportunities, but we do not know how to profit from them.

I feel happy when I am surrounded by harmony and joy, when I am able to give love, but also accept it and look forward to each new day. I believe that joy and happiness lie in everyone, but many of us are unfortunately so busy and therefore unable to perceive it. My dad often used to say how quickly life passes and as a child to the contrary everything seemed like an eternity. Today, when my children are growing up it seems to me that it was only yesterday when they were born. But suddenly I begin to realize how many great experiences we shared together and am aware of my happiness loving each precious moment.

My son wants to be first everywhere and is upset when I am a little slower than he.

Often I ask him if he can notice the beauties of landscapes in the vicinity. It seems to me that a lot of us rush through life without a pause and find it hard to realize what brings us joy. Some time ago I set myself a goal that I would like to return to regular jogging, something I have not practiced for nearly twenty years. In my twenties I got carried away with the bustle of everyday life, and have not found time for this hobby. A few weeks ago I managed to return to this sport. To my surprise, I was not too out of breath and other passers by made jokes that I was about to reach the final. For my son it is really important to win, but for me it's just the joy of movement, nature and people who are there to greet me, but I am also excited that I finally found time for something I was putting off for years. I think it might be a good idea to think about what we really enjoy, and maybe even write a plan on how we could incorporate these joyful things into our everyday lives.

Sixty years ago, people were apparently much happier than they are today, so I wonder why.

Life back then was definitely much simpler. Today we have so many more possibilities and opportunities, but we do not know how to profit from them. I come across families with just small babies who happen to have more toys than my sons ever managed to accumulate over their entire childhood. I often see how children have every moment filled with some activity and consequently lose their creative spirit. And so I am of the opinion that less can mean more and that children will be happier if we give them more freedom and space to explore the world. When my sons were small their friends always preferred to come and play in our house than in theirs. I would sometimes ask these children why they do not go and play for a change to their house. They often told me that even though their houses were spotlessly clean their parents did not like them to invite friends in order not to break something. Those children said their houses were boring and they often felt lonely there.

Happy Smiley Face
Happy Smiley Face
Several years ago I was asked who was the most important person in my life and after much thought, I must have mentioned members of my family. Somehow I felt the answer would not be right and it definitely was not. The most suitable answer to this question should have been that I myself was the most important person. For many years after this interview, I finally understood why. First of all I have to see to it that all my own needs are met before I start to think of others. Only those who feel happy in their own company, who love and accept themselves the way they are will be able to radiate love and pass it to others. My grandmother always used to look very well after all her children and grandchildren, but was never able to discover herself, to take care of her own needs. She wanted to be helpful, but if she was not able to implement this feeling of being needed - for example during an illness - she suffered badly from depression. She also had a tendency to put us down and shouted at us even if we did nothing wrong.

My other grandmother, who died before I was born wanted to keep my father to herself and never wanted him to marry - therefore I did not have a chance to get to know her. She did not grasp the fact that children are not to be owned by parents, and when they grow up, it just depends on them how they choose to live their lives. Living our lives through adult children will not bring us happiness.

My sons are right now at the crossroad between childhood and adulthood.

Like all teenagers they can behave at times like adults, but at other times still like children. I often talk to them about what they would like to become one day. The other day one of them told me that he is able to visualize great plans for the future, but does not know yet how to achieve them. I told him that he need not wait for the fulfillment of his dreams, but start working on them today. If he takes small steps today he will be able to achieve the bigger dream. Someone might want to comment that it is not as easy as it looks. Indeed all of us somewhere on our life journey come across obstacles and therefore such an objection can appear seemingly true. However, I look at problems as a challenge and am keen to work on them to find a solution. I also never forget that I do not have to solve everything on my own and that there are always others I can ask for help. And then ask yourself whether you enjoy beautiful flowers in the spring? We would never be rejoicing about them so much if we were surrounded by them throughout the whole year. Likewise, in life we appreciate the good even more when we went through something which was not very pleasant. And so I return to the question I have asked at the beginning and am increasingly more convinced that no amount of money will guarantee a happy life. A friend of mine was showing me photos of skiing holidays. They really loved it but she complained how expensive it all was. A couple of years ago I bought old skies in a charity shop and just go skiing on the hills outside our house. People are taking pictures of me as it is something of a rarity skiing on the south coast of England. Someone once said that the most beautiful things in life are free, and I agree. Recently I went to pick up my son from a school concert, the school door was locked so I waited for him outside. I stared at the night sky, watching the stars and noticed an incredible peace at night which was only disturbed here and then by the sound of a train. I asked myself why I do not do such a beautiful thing more often.

Finally, I would like to mention that we are happier if we wish only the best for others. As a small girl I always wanted to be the best at everything and did not like it when others overtook. Back then I wanted them to make a mistake and as I grew, I began to realize that was not very nice. Nowadays I like others to be happy as their happiness is my happiness. We are all interconnected and work together to make this world a better place.

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