What is Happiness?

What is happiness? Am I happy? What is happiness to me personally? Questions we all ask ourselves as we reflect on our own lives. Given what has happened over the last 5 months this question couldn’t be more important.

Let’s roll back together to the 8th of August 1999, 5 months before the turn of the century (imagine yourself in Doc Browns DeLorean right now, flux capacitor loaded to 1.21 gigawatts of power and you’re just back to hit 88 miles per hour). Boom! You’re there. On top of a hillside, the world at her feet, a lovely lady by the name of Pamela Gail Johnston, founder of the Secret Society of Happy People declared August 8th, 1999 as Admit You’re Happy Day and then in 2000 declared August to be Happiness Happens month. The human race rejoiced, every August since then for the last 20 years mankind has existed in a state of tranquil bliss, no war, famine, anger, frustration, depression, anxiety or sadness. If only this were true! (The part about Pamela is though).

Let’s try and put happiness in perspective. Happiness is one of the biggest contributors to your mental wellbeing so for the month of August the team at HoC are going to share some insightful thoughts with our loyal mob of, hopefully happy, followers. There may be some twists and turns in our individual views and the possibility of some humour with the odd bit of darkness thrown in, so please be prepared!

To kick things off, I thought it would be good to share a little foundation into what happiness is.

Psychologists distinguish different kinds or levels of happiness. One popular categorisation suggests three levels: The first involves the balance between our transient emotions, both positive (such as joy) or negative (e.g., anxiety); the second refers to our cognitive self-judgments about our life in a general, long-term sense; and the third focuses on “flourishing” and finding meaning in life. The first is thus about emotions, the second about rational self-reflection, and the third about the fulfilment of human potential.

So what is happiness to many? Here are a few examples…

Humour is one of the crucial aspects of our everyday life. The point is that humour is the tool that we can use to face the hardest times in our lives and to appreciate some of the most outstanding things. Some people tend to believe that humour is the key to finding happiness.

Just think about all people that you’re enjoying to spend your free time with and the ones that make you happy. Now try to recall the most heartwarming memories with these individuals. Without a doubt, all these precious memories will involve laughing and humour. Laughter and positive emotions simply put us in a better mood and make everyone around us happier. It is through humour that we usually start laughing out loud!

Not that long ago there were no psychologists and psychiatrists, we had family and friends that we talk to, that was it! We didn’t have to pay big money to talk to someone important with lots of diplomas and certificates on their wall. We went home and opened up and many times cried about what we had going on. Families care about the feelings of their loved ones, and because of that, they knew they had to be a sounding board for all their emotional turmoil. That’s why people down through history have sat down and enjoyed breakfast and dinner together.
Sometimes we work ourselves into a rut of holding in emotional energy. All that emotional baggage creates tension, stress, anxiety and puts a big weight on our shoulders, to the point that we feel we have the weight of the world bearing down on us. That’s not good, it doesn’t matter where you are, or what you are doing, if you feel this way just stop for a moment, take out your phone and call someone who knows you, really knows you, and have a good old rant down the phone. We need a pressure release valve which allows tension to melt away, this is, by far, one of the best ways.

I personally feel that the act of giving is one of the biggest contributors to my own personal happiness. As a father, son, husband, friend and crazy hairy Irish man it gives me a deep meaning of happiness to give back to others without reward, the good vibe alone is the reward. Helping someone, anyone, and seeing a positive effect on their life has a deeper, meaningful aspect to our mental wellbeing and happiness that is hard to put into words. If you have a positive effect on someone else’s life you can see how this increases their levels of happiness. This emotional effect then also makes you happy and increases your sense of purpose. Its also really good karma! With any luck, the same person you have shared with will give back to others and the circle of happiness continues.

That’s it, for now, ladies and gentlefreaks. I hope this may have at least raised a smile or two and keep an eye out for the next happiness instalment from my fellow humans in the HoC clan, Debi and Ben.

Keep smiling 🙂


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Tony Baker
Tony Baker

Director & Co-Founder at Humans of Code

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