Happy now?

Do you ever watch Super Soul Sunday? It’s one of Oprah’s and can be found on the OWN Network. On Sunday’s obviously. Here, in Toronto, where I live, it happiness2airs at 11 a.m. I have no idea what time it’s on anywhere else.

All I can say is, one of my favourite things to do on Sunday mornings used to be reading The New York Times and meeting friends for brunch. Since I ‘discovered’ this show about a year ago (although it’s been on for about 3 years, I believe), everything waits until after it’s over at noon.

Each week Oprah sits down with another “top thinker, author, visionary or spiritual leader and they talk

about personal fulfillment, spirituality, conscious living and, for the last two weeks, with her guest Shawn Achor (educator, author, speaker and positive psychology advocate) happiness.”

Of course since Pharrell Williams’ upbeat, catchy, grin-inducing, toe-tapper of a song, Happy, has completely dominated the airwaves, everyone seems to have ‘happiness’ on the brain. And there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

But it was really Oprah’s recent two-part series that got me thinking.

What is ‘happiness’? No, no, no, not that euphoric high that has you grinning like a fool and doing cartwheels — until something, or someone, comes along and rains on your parade and the next thing you know you’re down in the dumps. Just because you smile a lot or laugh often doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘happy’.

I’m talking about real happiness. A state of being.

Thought I’d start at the very beginning — at the dictionary definition of the word: According to the Oxford, “happiness” is the state of being happy.

WOO-HOO!

Not much help there. Gotta say I was hoping for something a little more insightful, a little more inspiring, a little more meaningful, a little more zen, a little more significant, a little more ‘large’ if you get my drift. The Merriam Webster, in case that was going to be your next suggestion, was another write off.

So I guess I have to figure it out for myself; and now you’ll be stuck with what I think. Unless you’d like to chime in, which would be terrific. I’d love to hear what you think. What I do know for sure is, my idea of happiness today is somewhat different than what I thought it meant when I was 17. Back then happiness was having a date for the prom.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

Here’s a question for you, to get things started: Do you think it’s possible to be ‘happy’ if you’re a glass-half-empty kinda person? I’m being serious here. I don’t think you can. If you’re negative how can you recognize happiness? For that matter, how can you even be open to the whole idea of being happy if you see the bleak side of everything?

This is not a criticism, by the way. I think trying to find the good in life is one of the keys to happiness. Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but wouldn’t you agree it’s well worth the effort?

Me? I am positive by nature. Sure, I have my moments like everyone else, but generally I believe every mistake has a valuable lesson built in, every disappointment comes with another opportunity, every ‘hurt’ makes you stronger. And, as much as it’s nice to occasionally wallow in misery, I try really hard, and most of the time I succeed, to dig deep and find the light side of dark situations and experiences.

Which, in itself, is a form of happiness — at least to me. In some ways, that’s acceptance, isn’t it? An acceptance that life won’t be perfect every minute of every day, but something good can come out of it in the end. It may be a different ending than the one I originally envisioned, and wanted (or thought I wanted), but there can still be a ‘happy’ outcome. You never know, the momentary set back could be a blessing in disguise.

Then maybe, acceptance = happiness. What think you?

Let’s take it a step further: If you’re ready to ‘accept’, could it be you’re ‘satisfied’. And couldn’t that mean you’re ‘fulfilled’. Which surely means you’re ‘content’. Right or wrong? Sounds like you have a lot to be grateful for, doesn’t it?

Then maybe, acceptance = satisfaction = fulfillment = contentment = gratitude = happiness. Yes? No? You tell me.

Real, true happiness.

Authentic. Resides deep inside you.

Being at peace with yourself, your decisions, your foibles, your failures, your successes, your choices, your path, your contributions, your impact. The good and the bad. The right and the wrong. The highs and the lows. And no, I don’t think it means you’re done. Nothing more to do, to see, to dream about, to want. It just means you’re good with where you’re at. In the present.

Or is it something else?

What do you think?

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Happy now?

  1. I’m positive by nature, which is probably why we get along. šŸ™‚ I also have what to me would be called major depression, so every day I deliberately do the things that affirm and validate my very existence. And that makes me happy when done correctly! hah

    Thanks to you I’m listening to this song I’ve never heard of by the way. Am I under a ROCK!?

    Yes happiness, your existential questioning of it is nice to see. It really is one of the things that makes each individual different, what it takes to make them happy, if they’re even thoughtful about it at all.

    Great post!

    • Thank you! Glad you like it. I love that you consciously and deliberately do all the things that affirm and validate your existence — that you take the time to appreciate who and what you are. We must love ourselves first before we can love anyone else or be happy about anything.

      Can’t believe you hadn’t heard the song šŸ™‚ people EVERYWHERE are doing their own videos to the song. They are FABULOUS!! I tried to upload the video on the blog but couldn’t get it to work. I am technically challenged.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Have a wonderful day!!

  2. I think there is happiness which can be fleeting but no less important, then there is contentment – that deep seated sense of well being and positivity…

    I try to be positive and for the first time in years I would say I’m happy. I’m lost, and a bit scared, and not very self confident, but those are things I can work at over time and most likely – at least in part – because I am young. However, being content with your life is another kettle of fish and to me it’s the most amazing, exhilirating feeling. I don’t know how long it will last but hey, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to find true contentment before. It’s interesting, and I guess it shows I still have an awful lot to learn.

    Thanks for sharing šŸ™‚

    • I agree — when you can say you’re content it’s about as good as it gets. It is a warm, comforting, feeling that says you’re at peace. Nothing better, I don’t think. And once you’re ‘there’ it is much easier to work in those other

    • Hit “send” too soon. Yes, when we are content it is much easier to work on any other issues we may have. You have a great attitude! Good for you. And thank you for sharing.

  3. I think the idea of being content often gets a bad wrap. It’s as if contentment is something one is settling for because one hasn’t managed to achieve happiness. But I don’t think one can be happy without it. I see people in my life striving so hard for happiness that all they can see are the things that aren’t making them happy. They don’t understand that it isn’t a goal that you can achieve through work or things or people or places. Happiness starts inside oneself.

    • Absolutely agree with you – 100%. And as ‘feelings’ go nothing beats contentment. At least as far as I’m concerned. There’s a total absence of stress and pressure. Just a feeling of calm and satisfaction that feels like your entire being (from the inside out) is bathed in warm sunlight. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Another great post Fransi! I used to struggle with the word “content” when I was younger – felt like I was settling. But as I get older, and come to appreciate that I am a kinda “glass half-full” gal, I realize that being contented is a pretty great place to be – especially when meeting so many people that are definitely not in that state! Content doesn’t mean accepting the status quo or giving in; I still have dreams / ambitions / goals but I appreciate the moments that I am in and try to make the most of what I am experiencing at the time I am in it.

    • Thanks Katherine. Yes, for some reason, we seem to think if we aren’t in a state of euphoric happiness we’re not happy. But when you think about it, I think contentment is so much more satisfying and “happy”. We humans are weird creatures sometimes. Glad you liked; and thanks for commenting and sharing.

  5. For me, happiness is true contentment. Being happy with where you’re at, who you’re with and what you’ve got. I agree with Julie, gratitude = happiness. Counting your blessings and living in the moment (as well as having a sense of excitement about future possibilities) all add up to a happy state of mind in my book. Also, doing what you love. I know for me personally, laughing and dancing make me instantly euphoric. Interesting topic! Have you read the book the Happiness Project?

    • Thanks! I agree with both of you. Contentment feels good. It’s comforting and comfortable. No I haven’t read it. It’s on my list, though :). Maybe I should move it higher up the list, though ??

  6. A great question, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer (just ask Webster) šŸ™‚ Acceptance certainly has a lot to do with true happiness, along with a generally positive outlook on life, and also the ability to roll with it when things go wrong, an appreciation for everything one has, and remembering that no matter how bad life seems at a given moment, there is always somebody, somewhere, that has it worse. To me these qualities are what make true happiness.

    I hadn’t heard of that Oprah show, but I’m going to have a look at my TV listings. Thanks.

    • It’s not an easy answer. You’d think it would be, but it’s not. And I think achieving happiness requires some soul-searching and definitely a willingness to accept that nothing in life is perfect and you can’t always get what you want. We think it will be as easy as when we were kids and if our moms let us have ice cream after school we were happy.

      Yes, you should check out the show. She has really interesting guests and they have great conversations.

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