Happiness Is….

Sunday 8th April

There used to be, maybe in the Eighties, a series of cartoons called ‘Happiness is..’. They appeared on t.shirts and mugs and were popular for a while.  But the wider question is ‘What is Happiness?’ – and why do we place so much importance, not on only on achieving it, but in understanding it.  Though my default mood is probably somewhere in-between; I am often ‘happy’, though this can be confused with ‘Contentment’ and sometimes disguises itself as ‘Conceitedness’.  And I am sometimes unhappy – and this is far easier to recognise, but harder to lose.  Happiness on the other hand is quite often ephemeral; you cannot retain it, it cannot be bottled or easily reproduced.  And it often dissolves at the first attempt to analyse it.  If you think about why you are happy you can quickly destroy the mood; in fact – ignorance of the state of your mind (and the World in general) can certainly contribute to happiness.  Forgetting reasons to be unhappy in fact.  I find that a little alcohol helps, and a good meal, and a few friends around too.  Smiling is contagious, and makes you happy, it is almost impossible not to be happy when everyone around you is smiling and happy too.

But a truism is that you can make some of the people happy all of the time, and you can make all of the people happy some of the time.  But there is no magic formula for happiness.  There used to be a board game ‘The Game Of Life’, where you had to secretly devise a formula for ‘Happiness’ choosing different proportions of Love, Money and Fame and then try to gain these before anyone else achieved their own formula.  I have long given up on Fame, though a certain recognition among friends is a good substitute.  Money is meaningless once a certain level of secure income and comfort are achieved (which in my mind means that those constantly seeking more money are deeply unhappy).  Love?  Well there lies the greatest mystery of all.  Love is the most written and sung about subject of all.  To be loved, to feel loved, to feel love for someone, a lover, a parent, a child, close friends is such an irreplaceable feeling.  The lack of love makes one deeply unhappy, but I am still not sure why ‘happiness’ is only really a momentary thing.  Maybe we are incapable of being really ‘happy’ all the time, maybe we need a dose of ‘unhappiness’ to recognise ‘happiness’ at all.  There are theories that Humankind’s unhappiness has been a huge factor in our development; our desire to stop being unhappy and to achieve ‘happiness’ has been a major reason we have developed our complex Society.  Anyway, as the saying goes – ‘Whatever makes you happy’.  So, complete this sentence please – happiness is….

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