What’s your definition of happiness? Research in the field of positive psychology and happiness often define a happy person as someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life, moments of pleasure, but overall it has to do with the positive experience of emotions.
The key to these definitions are that positive emotions do not indicate the absence of negative emotions. A “happy person” experiences the spectrum of emotions just like anybody else, but the frequency by which they experience the negative ones may differ. It could be that “happy people” don’t experience as much negative emotion because they process it differently or they may find meaning in a way others have not. In fact, using the phrase “happy person” is probably incorrect because it assumes that they are naturally happy or that positive happen to them more often. Nobody is immune to life’s stressors, but the question is whether you see those stressors as moments of opposition or moments of opportunity?
Regardless of where you are on the happiness spectrum, each person has their own way of defining happiness. Philosophers, actors, politicians, and everybody in between have all weighed in on their own view of happiness. Read some of our favorite definitions below and let us know what resonated with you. You can click on any of the quotes to tweet them.
The ancient Greeks defined happiness as
Shirley MacLaine, Academy Award winner, said:
Michael J. Fox said:
Mastin Kipp, the founder of Daily Love, said:
Gabrielle Bernstein, author, said:
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
“Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.“
What’s great about all these definitions is that commonalities start emerging. Shirley MacLaine and Michael J. Fox tell us to accept life’s situations and to accept uncertainty as a natural part of life. And the greater we are able to do that, the greater we can lean into happiness. Mastin Kipp tells us it’s ok to not strive to be happy, but accept whatever we’re feeling. He hints at an important concept, which is that we so often try to fix things and get to be “happy” or “at peace” or “over a situation,” but sometimes we need to acknowledge what we’re feeling (whatever that is). What you often find is that acknowledgement will allow you to move into the “happy space” quicker because your emotions aren’t trying to get your attention. You’re emotions aren’t screaming at you, telling you that you’re sad or angry. You’ve already begun the work of processing it.
Lastly, Aristotle shares a crucial part of happiness, which is staying active. How many “happy” people do you know who sit at home all day, everyday watching TV? They might be content or “ok” temporarily but are they truly thriving in happiness? Happiness is often found in the doing of what you’re passionate about and in building connections that are meaningful to you. Research has supported this with findings showing that strong social support is correlated with a number of positive outcomes. You might be in a rut now and you might have moments where you lose your connection to life, but you always have the opportunity to rebuild that connection (click here for a post on that).
So now it’s your turn to begin finding the happiness in you. What brings you joy? Maybe it’s a night in watching TV. Maybe it’s a night out at a new restaurant in town. Maybe it’s staying up late watching a movie with your significant other. Maybe it depends on your mood. Wherever your happiness resides, go enjoy it.
And tell us which of these definitions of happiness resonated with you most? Leave a comment and let us know how you define happiness.
- The Happiness Advantage: How Internal Determines External!
- The Habits of Supremely Happy People
- Quote Therapy – by Michael J. Fox
- A new way of thinking about happiness!
- How to connect you back to you and your life!
- The Power of Hope
- Positive psychology and redefining the future of the field
- Stop Focusing on the Problem and Start Focusing on the Solution
Like us on Facebook