Happiness is…

by | October 13, 2021 | General | 2 comments

We’ve always been told that our basic rights include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That part about the pursuit of happiness is a great idea, but there’s one thing missing—how do you recognize it when you think you’ve found it?

Happiness seems to mean different things for everyone. Those who are materialistically motivated are only happy when they have all the toys in their playpen. The more expensive the toy, the happier they are. Some people get that glow if they’re the center of social or political attention. An offshoot of this same personality type only seems to find joy when they can demean or bully others. Then there are those who think happiness and true love are joined at the hip.

A friend once asked what makes me happy. I had to think about that one, because I didn’t have a ready-made response. While I find comfort in financial security, or career success, or the joys of a great relationship, I can’t really tag one as the standard. There are times when I’m happy after enjoying a night out with friends. A vacation at my favorite getaway spot makes me happy, until I get home and realize it’s over. A terrific book review makes me feel like doing cartwheels in front of my house. Fortunately, I’ve never done that, which probably makes my neighbors happy.

I’ve come to believe that happiness is relative to where you are in your life. When I was a child, doing fun family things made me happy, especially around holidays. As I got older and discovered the joy of girls, dating one who caught my eye was my idea of happiness. Getting a raise or good performance evaluation when I was on the job always brought out the happy hormones, too.

I came across a list of 7 common myths about happiness. I won’t include all of them, but a few struck a chord with me, and they might with you. I think these hit me between the eyes because I’ve been guilty of this kind of thinking.

“If I have lots of money, I will be happy.” An infusion of greenbacks can get you a lot of things, but beyond your basic needs and financial security, the upgrades really don’t make that much difference. There have been times in my life when I didn’t have two quarters to rub together, but I still found something to be happy about.

“I have to be better than just OK to be happy.” This sounds like the credo of Overachievers Anonymous. Is the follow-up line “And as long as I’m better than you, I’m even happier”? I’ve known people with this Type A personality trait and I always avoided them, lest I get run over in their race to the happiness finish line. The problem is that the finish line is a moving target, and people with this mindset never seem to get there.

“When I find true love, then I will be happy.” This is probably the most erroneous myth ever. While it may help some of us tell compelling romance stories, it’s also a painful thing if it doesn’t work out. Love can be the greatest feeling in the world, but keep your eyes open, and be careful what you wish for. I have a woman friend who has been searching for what she considers true love for twenty-plus years. She hasn’t found it yet because she set some very high standards for a potential mate. Suffice to say, she never seems to be very happy, either.

“When life is normal again, then I can be happy again.” For this one to come to fruition, you first need to define “normal.” With what we’ve been through the past couple of years, it has changed on a weekly basis. What was once considered normal has taken on a different meaning. Why not adapt to what is now the norm in your own life and make the best of it?

There’s no hard-and-fast qualifier for happiness. It’s really what you choose to make it. Many people are happy when they’ve finished their day’s labors and can relax at home with their favorite TV show. Others find joy in hitting the winning home run for their softball team. Outdoorsy-type folks derive great pleasure from fishing or camping. Other adventurous souls become overjoyed when they stumble across a sale at their favorite store, and their credit card isn’t maxed out.

What lights up your happy button?

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.


  1. Lisabet sarai

    Hi, Tim,

    There’s a famous saying, attributed (apparently erroneously) to Abraham Lincoln (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/10/20/happy-minds/)

    “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

    This sounds like pop psychology, but I believe that it holds a lot of truth. Happiness depends not on what’s happening in your life, but on how you react to those events. And while we can’t necessarily just flip the switch and turn inner misery into instant joy, we can make choices that will push us in the direction of more a more positive perspective. For instance, resolving not to complain is a step anyone can take. Then there is the tried but true approach of turning one’s attention to the blessings in one’s life.

    Another way to amplify your happiness is to notice and acknowledge your feelings at the time. Then remember those feelings later. Happy memories!

    • Rose

      Hi, Lisabet and Tim,

      (Just a quick aside…I expected to see a lot more responses to this questions, but…)

      Anyway, I very much agree with your last paragraph, Lisabet. Just being in a happy moment (no matter how long or short the moment) and experiencing that moment, while acknowledging that *is* a happy moment is so important. Barring a mental illness (like dementia), happy memories don’t fade.

      I have so many remembered moments (including long, long moments) that still make me grin and feel good…truly happy.

      Some things that now make me happy in the moment (besides the memories) are…
      – playing and being with Jasper…he makes me laugh and feel joy just by him being right in a joyful doggy moment
      – Canada geese flying overhead, honking and making their annual trek south…the constancy of how life just goes on and nothing feels as good as the freedom to fly, however you do it
      – living my way, without drama, knowing that I’m in control of my own life
      – my sister and laughing with her, even in emails (if not in person, which alas, hasn’t happened since Sept/Oct 2019)
      – being here in the woods, surrounded by nature, and *knowing* this is is exactly where I’m supposed to be
      – standing outside on a clear night and seeing the billions of stars in the Milky Way and feeling just how awesome the universe is and that *I* am a bit of that…how cool is that?!
      – being content with what I have, but having the means to buy food I enjoy, and books, read, listen to music, watch my Brit mysteries as many times as I feel like watching them and my favourite movies (repeatedly), going for walks, making art when I’m moved to do so
      – getting a phone call from my dear friend, Glen (who was my high school music teacher and will be 91 in a few weeks), and sharing laughs and serious topics, too, with him (he just called yesterday and I’m still smiling because he made my life so much better over half a century ago and still does
      – knowing just how much I was loved by my late husband…that more than anything *IS* happiness…pure joy.

      Gosh…there are just so many things that make me happy, including reasonably good health, but I think a lot of that happiness is due to feeling *content* with what I have and have had, and not thinking in terms of “I’ll be happy if and/or when…[insert whatever].” Not *wanting* more and more is a good reason to feel happy.

      I think I’m just so lucky and being that lucky I’d have to be very off kilter *NOT* to feel happiness.

      Rose 😉

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