A bag of concepts. You thought there for a moment that I would have some moving words for you about happiness but as you can see that is not the case, What happiness is, is up to personal interpretation. Each person has their own thoughts on what triggers their brain to say ‘I’m Happy’. Even when someone says to you ‘I’m happy’ those words too are again up to personal interpretation. As the person could be speaking those words because their overall feelings of their life is happy. The person could be referring to their trait as a overall happy person and or they could be speaking about the moment the two of you are in right then.
What happiness is, it is subjective. Studies have shown that people who are happy have fulfilling marriages, their more generous, kinder to others, make more money, better leaders and have good things in life. Personally speaking I make good money, I’m a generous person, I’m kind to others and have good things in my life but am I happy? At this time in my life I would have to answer this question by saying I’m not sure’. I have my moments and periods of time that my sensory tells me I’m happy but at the same token their are just as many times it tells me I am not. Even though I have things that make me feel happy, my son, friends, family, activities, those things can also cause me to feel unhappy. Some may believe that having a good job, making more money and having a committed relationship such as marriage will ensure happiness but studies have shown that only 10% of life circumstances such as those make up ones happiness. 50% of your happiness is based on the genes passed onto you which leave you with the final 40% of happiness which you as a person has control over. In my own experiences I have learned that people may not be a very good judge on what truly would make them happy and even worse judges at what will sustain that happy feeling throughout their lifetime. Ultimately we all make predictions on what will make us happy and those predictions are not necessarily true. What does this tell us, well it tells us that there is no magic formula for happiness. We have to learn what makes us happy by trial and error. You cannot pick up a book about happiness or read a article about how to find happiness in what the writer says is a few quick 10 minute steps. Happiness is something that is a life long process that you as an individual has to work on each and every day. Their are no vacations or time off from finding what makes you happy. It’s more of what I like to call a journey.
My journey to find happiness has been as many others have been, a bumpy ride or to be more precise on my personal journey, a roller coast ride. I’ve always said that being single and not tied down to a relationship brings a person more happiness, is that true, scientific research says no, but scientists have admitted that single people such as myself are able to and have had a dozen meaningful relationships which they are easily able to maintain for a full decade and on. When I was younger my views on having a life long committed relationship was based on ones that I have had, but as I have grown older I find my views to be based more upon what I have seen others experience in their personal committed relationships. Of course, for me, my views have changed as I don’t see my younger past to be relevant with my age now and with the changing times of our society. So do to the fact that I have chosen for these adult years to avoid so to speak a committed relationship I can only base my opinions on how happy a committed relationship would make me, on others who have chosen to commit to the life long relationship. With my belief that happiness overall is a ‘bag of concepts’, being in a committed relationship or not is just one thing that plays a part in someone’s happiness.
Many things can cause a person to have that happy feeling. The Chinese Philosopher, Confucius wrote about Jen, which in short is about dignity, a feeling of humanity towards others. People that practice Taoism believe that the meaning of life may not come from your rational mind, you have to experience it by putting aside preconceptions to find the happiness you seek. Aristotle said happiness is found at the end of your life when you took a moment and looked back on your entire life and seen what you contributed or ‘gave’ to the world, that is when you would experience happiness. There is the Utilitarianism views on happiness that it is found in your actions that affect a great number of people, not your own personal pleasure. In our society today, peoples opinions on what happiness is are not just based on one concept but is a mesh of many concepts, which is why I believe happiness is ‘a bag of concepts’. Defining happiness is based on the individual answering one ultimate question, ‘How do you define happiness?’
How do I define happiness? I believe happiness is not a luxury nor a privilege, it is an important part of everyone’s day to day life. Happiness is generated in each of us by the power of social connections we have, compassion we have for others, cooperation in life, a person’s wiliness to give to others, its in the gratitude that a person gives and receives, it’s the pride one has in themselves and others, and it’s within the feelings one has of joy, contentment, meaningfulness and worthwhileness.