Recently I exclaimed to someone that I was “very, very happy.” Coincidentally a friend of mine is giving a talk on happiness at the college I attended, and I’ve just read a book about happiness. Wikipedia defines it as an emotion or mental state ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is a goal that we all desire. We wish people “Happy birthday,” and fairy tales end with “And they lived happily ever after.” We hope that our loved ones are happy.
Although we don’t often think about happiness per se, it is the driving force of our lives. After all, we were created for ecstasy—union with God. In the meantime, we pursue things (like cars and purses) and experiences (like cruises and winning the lottery), attempting to evoke happiness.
Wise people have shed light on what it means to be happy. Following are some of their observations.
~ Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. (Abraham Lincoln)
~ Somehow we human beings are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts that are truly us. (Os Guinness)
~ True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. (Helen Keller)
~ Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. (Henri Nouwen)
~ The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up. (Mark Twain)
~ If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. (Dalai Lama)
~ There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. (George Sand)
Couldn’t resist this one: ~ In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag. (W. H. Auden)
~ For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
~ Man’s happiness really lies in contentment. (Mahatma Gandhi)
Happiness is a state of mind. The opening words of Jesus’ Beatitudes (or “be-attitudes”) are sometimes translated, “Happy are they.” (Look them up.) I’ve compiled my own eight Beatitudes:
Happy are they
…who have positive thoughts
…who dwell on happy memories, not sad ones
…who forgive others
…who keep company with positive people
…who have clear consciences
…who do things for others
…who find fulfillment and satisfaction in their work
…who have hope
I’m happy when I behold a breathtaking scene in nature,
when I’m with someone I love,
and when I’m engrossed in writing a book.
• When have you been the happiest?