“O.K. Honey, why don’t you go play outside,” said the slightly agitated mom. “But there’s no one to play with,” complained the boy.
“How about watching TV,” said the now exasperated mom. “But there’s nothing on TV,” screamed the boy.
“Well why don’t you help me clean the house,” said the now visibly angry mom. “But Mom it’s not fun cleaning the house.”
“Well if you’re bored it’s the best option I have for you, so stop complaining and grab a broom…”
Sound familiar? It’s probably similar to conversations you had with your parents, or with your children. Sometimes when we say were bored what we really mean is we’re unhappy.
This gets us to the point of this article. So what does it mean to be happy anyway?
Definitions of Happiness
The origin of the word happy is derived from the Middle English or Old Norse word for luck or fortune. Happiness is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.”
Wikipedia defines it as, “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”
Merriam Websters Dictionary defines it as “joy” or “a state of well-being and contentment” or “a pleasurable or satisfying experience”
Notice the words joy, feeling, and experience are repeated the most often. The common theme revolves around being in a state of pleasure or being content.
We can derive from this that happiness is a state of well-being in which we are mentally content, emotionally in pleasure, basically feeling satisfied or being in a good mood. I believe that this leaves two possibilities. The first is being happy in life. The second is being happy about life.
Two Important Distinctions:
1. Being Happy in life
This basically revolves around individual moments in time. For Example-
* We can be happy when we get off work, and then unhappy when find our car won’t start.
* We can be happy when we find a peaceful moment, and then unhappy when someone interrupts it.
The problem with being happy in life is our happiness is dependent upon things basically going our way. These are the temporary times of happiness that often subject to the winds of change.
2. Being Happy about your life
This means we are happy with who we are, and what we have become. It seems to be more of a learned trait. Something we develop over time. For example –
* We learn to be happy regardless of circumstances by developing the inward confidence that even our unhappy times will not last forever.
* We learn to be happy by controlling our mental and emotional states by disciplining ourselves to find contentment regardless of our current situation.
Being happy about our life typically happens as we mature. It is ultimately discovered when we realize happiness is a state in time, and being happy is a state of being.
What is happiness?
In the next article we will look into how we can learn to be both happy in life and happy about life.