On Happiness

Had an interesting conversation with some students today that got me thinking.  In discussing something, a couple of my students (9th grade boys) began saying that if they were like Jay-Z or Kobe Bryant, that they would be happy.  Given my natural tendency toward argument, I immediately put all else aside and pursued the discussion.  Essentially, they were arguing that they if they had three things, they knew they would be happy.  Those three things? Money, fame, and women.  They said if they had all of those, they would be happy. Naturally, I tried to argue against this, but to no avail.  I pointed to Deion Sanders’ book, “Power, Money, and Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life” (which is on my bookshelf) as an example of someone who had all of those things and still wasn’t happy.  They were absolutely adamant that they were right and I was wrong.  While both perturbed and disappointed at the time, the conversation got me thinking.  I wondered, first, what happiness actually consists of.  Without actually coming to an answer, I moved on to another question: am I happy?  If so, what is it that makes me happy?  I came to this conclusion:I am happy because I am both content and grateful for my lot in life.I concluded that, in my opinion, happiness is a mindset of contentment and thanksgiving for the situation in which I find myself.   Happiness is just a matter of loving whatever life throws at me – it’s a choice I make. It would be very easy for me to say, “If I had X, then I would be happy.”  But there are so many examples (like Deion’s) that point the other direction.  They all indicate that happiness comes from something else that isn’t material.  Some say it’s from religion, some say it’s just a matter of finding our purpose, and some say it’s just a matter of doing away with materialism.  Me? All I know is that I don’t need money, fame, and lots of women.  I have a job that, while not making me a lot of money, brings me great joy.  Though I am not famous and powerful, I am known by my family and my good friends, who are the only ones who I really need attention from anyway.  And I certainly don’t need a lot of women to make me happy, because I found one woman whose love I am privileged to share at profoundly deep levels. 

So do I know what happiness is?  Maybe, maybe not.  But do I know I’m happy?  Absolutely.  It’s impossible not to be happy if I love my life.

That said, you tell me:

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

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2 responses to “On Happiness

  • Skraggles

    If I were asked to talk about a time I have been happy, I would have no idea what to say. I don’t believe I have ever actually been happy, but I can tell you times I have enjoyed myself and/or had fun. I don’t believe people can live a life contained of happiness because there are going to be times when you are completely pissed off at the world because someone keyed your car or egged your home. “…And they lived Happily ever after.” Like at the end of a fairy tale with the prince and the princess riding off into the sunset towards the large castle in the middle ages. That’s what gets me. How do they know they lived “Happily” in this so called “Ever after”. If I ever lived in times like that I sure as hell would NOT live happy. It should be, “…And they lived happily ever after, until Cinderella caught the plauge and died of dysentery”. Glad and grateful are to me, better ways to describe happy. Happy is always having a smile on your face like the guy on the Enzyte commercials. If someone really lived like that, then I guess I would say, “That guy is happy. Whats his secret?”. Too bad I still have yet to meet that person. But with that said, I don’t want to be happy. I would rather be well fed, warm and alive that happy. But going on to how some of your students say they if they had: Money, fame and Women they would be happy. I don’t know how that would satisfy me. But to answer your question of: “What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy?” I would have to say being satisfied. So I guess the reason why I have never been happy is because I have never been satisfied.

  • Leroy Hurt

    An interesting twist would be to ask them the questions:
    – “What do you think it takes to get to that place and stay there?”
    – “Are you willing to do it?”
    – “What are you doing now to get there?”

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