Recognising happiness is an art; some people wouldn’t know happy if it got up and slapped them with a wet fish.
How do you know you are happy?
Happy relative to:
- Other people
- How I used to be
- What I imagine happy to be
- How happy is constructed for me by the media?
According to US Declaration of Independence, the ‘pursuit’ of happiness is an inalienable right … how do you do that, exactly?
The right is not to happiness itself, but to seek after, to strive for, to hunt down, some elusive might-be.
But is happiness elusive? Or do we simply not notice? Is it perhaps not the pursuit but the acceptance of happiness that is important?
After all, do you actively seek to be unhappy- do you pursue misery? Do you have a right to be unhappy- It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to?
(Maybe some adolescents go through a phase of this actually, I think I did!)
Do you secretly think that being unhappy is somehow interesting, perhaps even glamorous, along with terminal illness, tragedy and plain bad luck? Might happiness be, (whisper it) just a little bit, boring?
Is happiness something you can achieve on your own, with your own self, or does it require an ‘other’, be it a lover, friends, family, work, possessions, experiences…
So, Happiness then:
When did you last notice you were happy?
On a scale of 0 (miserable) to 10 (blissed out) how happy were you?
(If you picked an occasion with a very high score, when was the last time you were happy enough? And what score does that get?)
How long did that last?
What was it about that happiness that let you know you were happy?
For you –
- What is happiness?
- What constituent parts does it have, if it has parts?
- Where is happiness (if it has a position)– in time, in space; how near is it, is it internal or external?
- What does happy look like (if you ‘see’ it)- what colour, shape, size; how bright, how distinct is it?
- What does happy sound like (if you ‘hear’ it)– how loud, how distinct is it, what rhythm does it have?
- What does happiness feel like? (if you ‘feel’ it) -what temperature, texture, size, pressure, does it have?
These are suggestions- you may experience happiness in some other way- notice what that way is.
If you re-create the position/sight/sound/feeling/… intentionally, what happens?
On that scale of 0-10, how happy are you most of the time?
How happy do you need to be?
How much happiness can you take?
How long can you be happy for?
What about content, cheer, gladness, joy, bliss?
You may have some idea now of what happy means to you.
So a closed question to close with.
Can you choose to be happy?
Copyright Cherry Potts, Change from Choice 2008