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Happiness - how do you define/achieve it?

(13 Posts)
Earlybird Mon 11-Jul-05 09:18:05

I realise that it is an emotional luxury to post something of this nature in light of the terrible things that happened last Thursday when so many have suffered, but here goes......

Recently I've been thinking about happiness, and how that manifests itself in day to day life. I have much to be grateful for - my own health, wonderful dd, financial stability, good friends, etc. Of course, there are some things I would change/improve if I had a magic wand, but generally, things are fine. However, I have a nagging feeling that I could be happier.

For many periods of my life, (like many others) I have had severe difficulties - chronic and extended family illness, deaths, relationship falling apart/ending, extreme work issues, etc. Finally, that long period of turmoil has ended, and for the past few years things have thankfully been calmer.

I realised the other day that I have tended to define happiness in my own life as a lack of conflict or struggle. So, if life is generally calm (ie with only normal "bumps"), I think I have little to complain about, so I should therefore feel happy.

But, here are my questions - how do you define happiness? How do you achieve it? Is it a general state or small "golden" moments to be relished and treasured? Are my expectations too high? Is it a mental shift to move from the "neutral" territory of "things are fine" to the "positive" territory of "I love my life and feel happy"? Would love to hear your thoughts....

expatinscotland Mon 11-Jul-05 09:32:07

I have, for most of my life, rejected the traditional Western standard of 'happiness' - ditto the belief that someone is 'the one' for you or the concept of 'soulmates' (one doesn't need a mate for his/her soul to be complete).

Happiness is love for oneself and what is around you. For me, personally, this love comes from God, the Holy Trinity, and spirituality.

It's 'achieved' by prayer. Prayer is just the soul speaking to God, and listening to God. When I started conversing with God, I starting noticing so many small, wonderful things about the planet around me; being grateful that I was able to perceive these small things. And this brought me happiness.

B/c my happiness depends on faith, it's not dependent upon outside things, and therefore I can truly say I own it; no one can take it away.

My mantra is borrowed from Mother Theresa, 'There can be no great things, only small things done with great love.'

lilaclotus Mon 11-Jul-05 09:35:17

in my experience, happiness is about accepting change. about accepting that sometimes things go wrong or bad and that it will not last forever. it's about accepting that everything (a mood, a feeling, a thought) ends at one point and that i shouldn't sign too much significance to bad emotions. they will go away. it's about accepting and appreciating what you have.
i'm sure you'll think this is rubbish, but it got me out of my depression and i feel happy.

ChaCha Mon 11-Jul-05 09:44:03

Lovely thread.
I have very similar views to expat. I found happiness through faith. When i look at how i lived my life before having faith and now, I feel that I was totally lost - without faith I'm not sure i could look at the world and everything in it and keep sane. I used to think happiness was a momentary state, found through other people, materialness, a state of mind but now i find happiness in the small things in life. Yes, life has its ups and downs and even with strong faith we face dry patches but happiness for me is as simple as having the ability to sit at this computer screen and type this message - I feel very fortunate at times.

PeachyClair Mon 11-Jul-05 10:00:55

Interesting thread.

I am the only person I ever met that describes themselves as happy, yet I have not had it easy at all- low income, sn eldest child, DH with (at times) severe health issues. To me, being happy is about focussing on the positives, and one big positive is whatever you are doing to change the negatives (eg, I am at Uni from September, which I hope will eventually lead to longer term financuial stability). Whilst I deal with the negatives, I refuse to accept them and in this way I feel positive that my life improves. When I hit a blip, I analyse what caused it, do my best to either deal with it or accept it, and move on whichever. If it is something major, i let nature take it's course to grieve or whatever.

I am interested in other faiths and the whole meaning of 'happiness', and for that reason I am to study world religions and philosophy for my degree. But I know I found MY answer already.

Earlybird Mon 11-Jul-05 14:59:35

Thanks for responses so far. There's some food for thought that will take me a bit to digest.

Here on mumsnet we have lots of "feeling depressed" threads, so thought it might be useful to have a "feeling happy" thread too.

ChaCha Mon 11-Jul-05 15:23:29

Earlybird, I quite agree.
Feel quite happy and content at times just contemplating over what i do have and not what i don't, what i've got and not what i've lost. It's hard to see the bigger picture at times. Think we just need to focus and be grateful.
Lovely post, do hope more MNers contribute.

KatyMac Mon 11-Jul-05 15:38:03

Do you think that in order to be happy you need to have 'passed througth' a period of trial or pain or upset?
To know what you have is good/great do you need to have something bad/awful have happened previously?

Or is that simplistic?

expatinscotland Mon 11-Jul-05 15:49:11

No, KatyMac. I've known quite a few folks who were born happy and stayed that way. They were contented wee souls from the get-go and even though some had gone through war, extreme poverty, etc. their sense of contementment was never shaken.

My husband, for example, has always been happy with himself and all his situations. Nothing 'bad' or a trial has happened to him, but even during life's swings and roundabouts he remains on an even keel.

DD is the same way so far (knock on wood).

Ameriscot2005 Mon 11-Jul-05 15:50:12

Happiness is based on things that happen to you.

Unlike Joy.

almostanangel Mon 11-Jul-05 15:53:19

i cant say im ever happy ..i have loads to be happy for ,,but i concentrate on the bad things and the what ifs..i would love to find out how to change my outlook,,,

Earlybird Mon 11-Jul-05 22:02:49

Do you think happiness is achieved by mind over matter? Is it simply a positive outlook? Or is it to do with having faith so that you know a higher power gives life purpose/meaning and will therefore look after you?

Katymac Mon 11-Jul-05 22:14:45

I don't think it is a positive attitude, I can be as negative about the future as anyone - however I do consider myself happy

Is it a form of gratitude? It's beter than it was /or then her life/or than it could be?

As a child/teeneage/early 20's I was rarely happy - but as I have moved through life my happiness has grown

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