Ask 10 different people what happiness means and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. It’s a very personal thing and can be something different on different days depending on your mood. According to wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn, happiness is defined as a:
state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy
That’s a broad range of emotion and can encompass many external events, activities, and the internal state of mind. So if happiness is so slippery, how do we chase it down, tie it up and keep it always for our own?
Let’s look at the different types of happiness.
The most fleeting moments of happiness are those caused by external factors; buying something new, the first few bites of delicious food, a pay raise, a surprise birthday party, etc. The created state of happiness lasts for a few brief moments and then it’s time to come back to earth.
Happiness caused by pursuing a favorite activity or while exploring a new activity tends to last longer, possibly for the entire time you’re engaged in the activity. The happiness can return from time to time while thinking about what you have accomplished or contemplate what you have planned next.
Internal state of mind lasts the longest. When you master how to be happy within as well as out, you spend a great deal of time feeling content. And from this baseline of contentment, you readily enjoy heightened states of happiness when the opportunity arises.
Does this mean a person never feels sad or angry and never gets upset?
I think we can all agree there are appropriate times not to be happy; losing a loved one, watching a sad movie or reading about sad events, not receiving something you were expecting, etc. However, if you learn how to experience your emotions fully and acknowledge what you’re feeling, the down state does not last as long as it does for someone who either tries to repress the emotion or deny its existence.
In the weeks ahead, I plan to discuss how to utilize all three types of contentment to experience happiness to the fullest extent possible, as well as explore methods used to maintain internal happiness. I will investigate the flip side of happiness and what to do when other emotions attempt to take over your happy place.
Until then, be mindfully adventurous!
What does happiness mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.