What makes you happy? There’s so much to choose from
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Next Monday, March 20 is the International Day of Happiness. Lynne Mortimer asked around to find out what happiness is.
Happiness is one of those subjective things. What makes me happy (chocolate, grandsons, spring flowers) won't necessarily make anyone else cock-a-hoop. For a start, hayfever can be a problem with the flowers.
I sent out a request to my Facebook friends asking for their definition of happiness. Before very long, I had a welter of replies (over 40) with assorted emojis. Here is a selection:
• Lisa: A Saturday (or Sunday) with nothing in the diary......fine weather.......and the whole day with my husband and son.
• Samantha: Being with family and friends.
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• Mark: Any time when you are only thinking about the present moment and wouldn't want to be any where else.
• Natasha: Singing and performing.
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• Anne: Friends and family + dogs.
• Samantha (again): Oh yes, I forgot dogs.
• Kevin: All jobs done, warm sunny day and glass of chilled Chablis.
• Lesley: Just being with my family, friends and doggies
• Emily: Warmth in the heart, natural smile, feeling light, content...
• Robert: The ability to choose my own direction.
• Judith: Sunshine and blue sky. Any time of the year!
• Tina: Being outside in the warm sun and a gentle breeze.
• Linda: Love.
• Second Emily : A child's laughter.
• Mike: Firefly.
• Loraine: A little warm hand of a grandchild as it holds mine.
• Daphne: Being content with my situation and enjoying simple pleasures. Not wasting time and energy wishing for the out of reach and impossible
• Carol: Waking Up!
• Linda S: The time to stroke my beagle's ears...
• Alison: Being at peace with your surroundings.
• Brenda: Warmth, friends, not being hungry, being with loved ones, flowers.
Just reading these (with the possible exceptions of the US space western drama series Firefly – which I confess I haven't seen – and the rugby score) made me feel warm inside, a touch of the Danish hygge, perhaps and, in some cases, made me laugh.
Notably, none of these answers was related to money and yet, so many of us believe this is the tap root that feeds happiness. If we didn't, I imagine no one would buy lottery tickets because winning would be an irrelevance. So we have to assume a number of 'givens'.
Given that we have a roof (even if its leaky) over our heads; food to eat (even if it's basic); clothes to wear (even if they're old) and that we feel safe from harm, then happiness can be claimed.
Next Monday is set aside for a global celebration to mark the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, it recognises that 'progress' should be about 'increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.'
That means happiness should be on the agenda and although many people would argue that not having to attend meetings would considerably enhance the sum total of happiness, the first UN conference on Happiness took place in 2012. A conference resolution decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.
This year it falls on a Monday and I can straightaway see that this could be a problem for anyone who doesn't much like their job. But even then, why not set aside some quality happiness time, even if it's only 10 minutes. You could pursue the paths of my Facebook friends who treasure quality family time, children blue skies, living in the moment, self-determination and putting on a show.
But as well as individual happiness, we should not forget collective happiness – Gross National Happiness and Happiness Economics. Where there are facts there must also be a theory, it seems.
A study carried out by scholars at three American universities in 2011 looked at the relationship between money and happiness. Those with more money registered more satisfaction in their lives but when asked how happy they were, there was barely a difference between the monied and unmonied. The resulting paper was titled 'If Money Doesn't Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right.'
Happiness, I learn from my friends (see above), can be sought or it can just descend upon you unexpectedly when the sun comes out or someone smiles.
Happy happiness day!
Yet more happiness:
• Helen: Being true to yourself - and being with people who like you that way!
• Hattie: Sunshine inside you whatever's going on outside.
• Kieran: Fresh bedsheets.
• Roger: Shalom.
• Mary: Lack of anxiety.
• Ruth: Feeling comfortable, anxiety free and surrounded by caring friends and family.
• Bev: There's a Chinese proverb that goes something along the lines of... 'The man who questions his own happiness ceases to be so.'
• Brian: Knowing that in a chaotic world there is the stillness and beauty of primroses
• Michelle: Handbags.
• Wendy: Wanting what you already have.
• Le-Anne: Easter Eggs.
• Paul: The look in my little daughter's eyes when I give her a piggy back!