What Does Being Happy Mean, Anyway?

Happy. What does that word actually mean?

It’s a word we hear all the time – whether it’s Pharrell belting out his hit, or contemplations about what we can do to be happy, attain a state of happiness.


It is a concept we all strive for. And that’s fair enough; who wants to spend a life being unhappy?

Sometimes I think that all this talk of happy and happiness means that it’s something we deserve. Of course we all deserve to be happy, but I mean ‘deserve’ in the sense of the expectation to always be happy, for the world to owe us happiness, for happiness to be gifted to us.

And that’s where we fall down, I think.

Modern society is about more, more, more. Faster, faster, faster. The right job, the right clothes, car, house, gadgets, whatever – once we’ve got the object we have coveted we expect to be happy.

But life isn’t like that.

‘Stuff’ can boost our confidence and self-esteem, certainly, but they do not in themselves guarantee happiness.

A permanent state of happiness nirvana just is not possible.

The myth of gifted happiness heaps extra pressure on those coping with all kinds of issues. Happiness isn’t a switch that can be flicked on at will.

It’s something I’ve learnt in the last 18 months or so.

When Hugo died I thought I would never be happy ever again. Nor, for a time did I want to feel happy again.

For me, happy means simplicity.

I find my happy in the simple things in life – writing, the feeling of sunshine on my skin, a hug, a cuddle with a dog or cat, flowers.

To live a happy life, I think, you need to think about what ‘happy’ means to you. Reflect on what makes you happy – what are your values? Look to accept who you are, rather than constantly comparing yourself with others. Find things that you enjoy doing and spend as much time doing them as life will allow.

For me, happiness means a collection of joyful moments that we create for ourselves.

A happier life can also be gained through accepting that we cannot always be happy, as paradoxical as that may seem! By accepting that life will not always go our way we build our resilience, figure out what kind of self-care soothes our soul, who we are and what we need to do (or not do).

That’s not about being cynical, negative, or cutting ourselves off from the world. Quite the opposite.

Figure out what gives you joy, cut out from your life things you don’t need (whether physical or emotional).

That’s what being happy means to me.

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What does (3)


17 Comments on What Does Being Happy Mean, Anyway?

  1. John Adams
    August 15, 2015 at 6:01 am (5 years ago)

    Happiness is indeed found in the simplest things; a good book, the discovery of a marvellous ale or a good meal. Material posessions do not make happiness at all. Happiness cannot be bought either. SOme of the unhappiest people I know are the wealthiest. #ThePrompt
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    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:23 am (5 years ago)

      So true on all counts, John. It’s the simple pleasures, the joys you find along the way – and often unexpectedly – that lead to true happiness. Thanks for commenting x

  2. tracey at Mummyshire
    August 15, 2015 at 12:23 am (5 years ago)

    Possibly the most complex question we can possibly ask ourselves. Even the government has tried to put down markers to determine how to measure happiness. It’s tough but I think it’s what’s inside you and how to communicate this with others. But I don’t think you can ever find happiness in things, but in ourselves and in people. This summer we’ve had the happiest times being at home with no real intention but to enjoy each other’s company.
    tracey at Mummyshire recently posted…When did camping get so complicated?My Profile

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:24 am (5 years ago)

      Oh yes I remember the government doing that – sounds a bit daft to me. You’re right, happiness is entirely subjective – and it comes from ourselves, other people, and experiences – not things. Glad you’re having a lovely summer xxx

  3. Sara | mumturnedmom
    August 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm (5 years ago)

    You are absolutely right in all you say here. I’ve always felt that happiness is found within ourselves, not through stuff, but it can be all too easy to get caught up in all the trappings of modern life and lose sight of that. When we are busy and moving too fast, we forget to take a moment and appreciate. Well, I do anyway. And, I agree, accepting that we won’t always feel happy is hugely important in finding happiness. Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…The Prompt 78My Profile

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:26 am (5 years ago)

      I think that’s it, Sara. Often we’re going through life so quickly we fail to notice points of joy are under our very noses – we just need to pause to appreciate that. As well as, as you say, accepting we’re not always going to be happy. Thanks for your lovely comment xxx

  4. Jenny | Jenny on a Plate
    August 14, 2015 at 9:28 am (5 years ago)

    I really understand everything you’re saying here. It’s so common in society today to expect more, more, more and now, now, now, and then wonder why we aren’t forever fulfilled by it. I have consciously been trying to appreciate the little things more so and whilst it’s not possible to be in a constant state of happiness, as you say, it is definitely an approach to life that is working 🙂 #ThePrompt
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    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:28 am (5 years ago)

      So true Jenny. I’m glad that approach is working – it’s balanced and realistic xxx

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:32 am (5 years ago)

      So true, Jenny. I’m glad that approach is working for you, too xxx

  5. Tim
    August 14, 2015 at 9:15 am (5 years ago)

    it’s an interesting question to ask ourselves what truly makes us happy – it’s a harder question to answer truthfully than it first appears. Someone once said to me that happiness is not about having what you have or doing what you do but loving what you have and what you do. Quality as opposed to quantity, I suppose.
    Tim recently posted…Podcast #3: Muddy Puddles and GlitterMy Profile

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:32 am (5 years ago)

      You’re right Tim, it is a difficult one to answer truthfully. I like that – loving what you have and what you do. Life’s too short to do otherwise, I think x

  6. mummy tries
    August 14, 2015 at 8:56 am (5 years ago)

    Oh hon I could have written this myself. Stuff alone will never make us happy. It might facilitate happiness briefly, but then we’re likely to come crashing down to earth with a thud. This mindset is not sexy though and doesn’t sell, so it’s not in the medias best interest to promote it. Have you read Affluenza by Oliver James? I think you’d like it xxx #theprompt
    mummy tries recently posted…Some Exciting NewsMy Profile

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:31 am (5 years ago)

      Oh yes crashing down to earth with a terrible thump after seeking joy exclusively from material goods – it’s never going to end well! I do have Affluenza….somewhere! So many books, so little time. Thanks for your kind comment xxx

  7. Mummy Writes
    August 13, 2015 at 8:44 pm (5 years ago)

    This resonates with me as I’m crafting a post loosely based on a similar theme. Seeing an old friend and all the things they had done and planned to do and when asked what I do for a hobby I was like er… Breathe! I realised my happiness now comes from simple things, similar things to you, sunsets and flowers not flashy holidays and cars

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:30 am (5 years ago)

      Ah yes, your post makes complete sense. Happiness now comes from the simple things, doesn’t it? xxx

  8. Alice @ The Filling Glass
    August 13, 2015 at 6:27 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi Leigh, I really get this – to me happiness is experienced in the moment. The rest of the time it’s about acceptance of what is and contentment with being. And when I’m not accepting or content with my lot that’s when the unhappiness creeps in. I guess it’s about balance between it all and not getting overwhelmed in a negative state. Xx
    Alice @ The Filling Glass recently posted…The missing key in the paradox of depression?My Profile

    • Leigh
      August 16, 2015 at 8:29 am (5 years ago)

      You’re right, Alice, it’s about balance and not getting overwhelmed in negativity. It’s easy to get in to a negative spiral, but bit by bit we can find happiness to appreciate in our lives (and I think it helps us appreciate the joyful moments all the more). xxx


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