What is Happiness to You?

Julie Edwards

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Happiness. Photo Credit: Christopher Michel
Happiness. Photo Credit: Christopher Michel

Happiness, I hear you say. Is it just part of the human condition to always want more? Is it just some new hippy thing? God damn it! What is this happiness that people always talk about? Everywhere you look, online, in shops you hear about happiness. But what is it? Is happiness even achievable?

Well, as it happens,  The Irish Times reported that out of 157 countries Ireland came 19th after The World Happiness Report of 2016 (SDSN). It calculates seven main components of happiness, gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity, freedom from government and business corruption.

So for a country of tea drinkers and moaners we are not doing too badly. Just to test the findings I decided to ask people what happiness is for them, and if they feel they are truly happy.

Happiness. Photo Credit: Sima Dimitric
Happiness. Photo Credit: Sima Dimitric

‘Being skinny but eating loads, that’s happiness to me.’

‘Your self-confidence in love, life, and your family.’

‘Selfless behaviour is happiness because when you care and help others it brings you joy. And seeing what happiness you can give others.’

‘Creativity is happiness. If you create something you will be happy because you see what you can create.’

‘Experiencing the present moment is happiness, there is no point at looking at past failures, cos that ain’t gonna make no one happy’.

Happiness of holding your first born. Photo Credit: Author
Happiness of holding your first born. Photo Credit: Author

Then came the age old question, ‘Does money make you happy?’

‘I don’t really know. I am happy but I want a house. And I want more money but that’s what I’m working towards and that’s what life is. Constantly wanting more and more and more and more, onto the next big thing. When I get a house I’ll want a white Range Rover. When I have that I’ll want a really high authority position in whatever job I’m in. It never ends I don’t think, not until you die. But I think that goes for everyone that has motivation’.

Contrasting this view:

‘Money isn’t everything it can only take you so far. It can either make you happy or it can make you miserable. When you don’t have it you want it, you stress over it and that leads to unhappiness. I need money for this, I need money for that I can’t do this without money. It becomes desirable, an obsession. When the reality is you don’t need it, enough to get by is fine anything else is greedy. Enough money is security because having security makes you happy and having enough money allows you to survive and be healthy, but too much of it leads to greediness and want.’

Prof Jeffery Sachs director of SDSN and The Earth Institute commented that The World Happiness Report 2016 give a clear message to the US, ‘For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is  deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating’.

This begs the question, what is happiness for you?

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Julie Edwards