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What does happiness mean to you?

Photo: Robert Collins/Unsplash
We once asked a friend of ours “Are you happy?” Instead of answering, he countered it with his own question “Why, aren’t you?” That gave us a valuable clue. Most of us desire happiness — a state of well-being usually marked by positive emotions from inner peace and contentment to intense joy — but few know how to be happy even if it’s staring at us in the face. Happiness is not as elusive as we think it is. We can choose to be happy every day or as happy as we make up our minds to be. The problem is not that we seek happiness; it is looking for happiness in external things or in the wrong places when it is within us, within our reach, most of the time.

On the occasion of International Day of Happiness on March 20, we asked people from different walks of life to tell us what happiness means to them — and their responses were both revealing and enlightening.

Happiness comes from daily reminders that life can be good

I think too many people think of happiness and joy as the same thing. To me, they are different. Joy is that uplifting we have at certain times in life: a wedding to one you love; the birth of a much-wanted child; reuniting with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Happiness is different. Happiness comes from the daily reminders that life can be good. It’s the taste of a good cup of coffee or a good meal; a hot shower; beautiful flowers or trees; a smile from a friend. It’s the little things that ground us and remind us of what makes life worth living.

I think happiness takes mindfulness. You need to pay attention to those little things and appreciate them. You need to hold onto them during life’s sad moments. If you learn to do that, happiness sustains you and keeps you going.
— Margot Kinberg, US-based mystery novelist and Associate Professor

I have every reason in the world to be happy

Happiness to me is many little things. Falling asleep to the sound of rain and thunder. Buying new books. Eating fresh fruit. Laughing uncontrollably with my friends. Going through old photo albums with my grandma. Singing with my sister. Game nights with my friends. Sleepovers with my cousins. Long phone conversations with my friends who moved away. Playing with my dog, Coco. Baking Christmas cookies with my best friend.

I’m most happy when I’m spending time with the people I love. Some days I forget it, but I have every reason in the world to be happy. So I think that’s what happiness means to me — good people around you that make you feel loved.
— Diana Mistry, Student of Psychology

Happiness is having the ability to face challenges

Happiness for me is a plethora of things…the smell of the earth with the first rain…a walk in the rain enjoying an ice cream under an umbrella…or just being at peace with myself, which exudes as a warm smile on the face and a twinkle in the eyes. Yet, at the same time happiness is not the absence of challenges, but knowing that I have the ability to face these challenges.
— Dominic D’souza, Advocate - Media, IP and Regulatory

Happiness is being grateful for simply being alive

Happiness means so many things for me. Most of them are small but heartwarming experiences. Happiness means living in the present moment and many such present moments have given me indescribable joy…like when am just being with my dogs and cat. Feeling them close to me. That communion brings me peace.

The joy I get when am listening to music that elevates me. A good meal, a great concert, super conversations…

Am most happy when I give my time to others. Make it worth every moment. When I do something for others. When I complete a task on my checklist…

When I read a book that gives wings to my imagination…or simply remains with me. When I learn about things that I never knew before or when I try out something new!

When I dance with gay abandon and randomness fills my soul… When I meet up with my friends and spend quality time with them. When am sitting and doing nothing, but daydreaming. When am writing or singing aloud to a favourite song.

I've learnt that happiness is not dependent on others. It is a state of mind. A state of being. I am happy with myself and that happiness reflects in my passion and exuberance in waking up every morning and being grateful for simply being alive. And in one piece.
— Prema Raghuraman, Retd Manager - Cargo Sales & Marketing, Air India

Happiness is peaceful coexistence

Happiness in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence should be the ultimate aim of all living beings, especially humans.
— Kaivan Bodhanwalla, Property Management

I celebrate the simple joys of life rather than seek lofty happiness

Happiness is deep philosophy — it’s not an easy state to achieve. Joy and fulfilment seem so much more achievable — their goalposts don’t keep shifting. Even if the outcome is minor, it’s up to me to experience joy and fulfilment. I strive for these in every aspect of my life — my relationships, my work, and through every mundane chore too. A positive work outcome leaves me fulfilled, knowing that my hard work has paid off. It nudges me away from complacency. I try and celebrate the many simple joys of life, rather than seek lofty happiness. It genuinely helps, and keeps life uncomplicated!
— Chaitra Patel, Content Lead at Therefore Design

Happiness is being in the presence of people you love

Happiness is in the little things, the simple pleasures that you come across in your day-to-day life: being curled up in bed with a good book; eating dessert; three-hour conversations with your best friend even though you’ll have “nothing” to talk about; having a good hair day; the smell of good coffee in the morning (or at any time of the day); cooking your favourite meal; long drive + the perfect music; making someone laugh.

And sometimes, happiness is just being in the presence of the people you love.
— Dhriti Manek, Deputy Manager - Tax Consulting

© PocketfulofHappiness

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Mahrukh Khajotia
Mahrukh Khajotia
Mar 20, 2023

Beautifully expressed by all,

Aug 29, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Mahrukh.

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