Happiness–it’s what everyone wants. But what exactly is it? Shouldn’t we be able to pinpoint it before we search for it? Read on to find out what is happiness to you.
What Happiness Is
To begin to answer this question, let’s roll all the way back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. I know, I know…philosophy? But there is a reason this guy’s name keeps coming up. He knew his stuff.
If someone asked Aristotle, “What is happiness to you?” this is how he would respond. He said there were four levels of happiness. Here are the first three:
1 – Pleasure
This means immediate gratification for yourself, but the feeling doesn’t last. You eat a bowl of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, you feel pleasure while you’re eating it. But when the bowl is empty, the pleasure is gone.
2 – Achievement
The feeling of achievement comes when you are admired or awarded with something. Although for some this holds little enchantment, for others it is the mainstay of life.
3 – Contribution
This is what you feel when you help others. It is the happiness of friendship and love.
What People Perceive Happiness As
If you asked people on the street, “What does happiness mean to you?” you’d get an assortment of answers. It’s one of those things that you know when you have it and when you don’t, but you don’t know how to describe it.
Some might describe it as a feeling. Or they might recall a certain time when they felt happiness, like when they got a favorite gift. That memory is certainly associated with pleasure, but it also mixes in some happiness from love because it shows the people in your life listen to you, care about you, and (in some instances) sacrifice for you.
Others might describe happiness as a state of mind. They might associate it with optimism or even the ability to not sweat the small stuff. Still others might describe it as a Zen-like feeling, floating above the ups and downs of the world.
What if you were asked that question. What is happiness to you?
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Happiness is Different for Everyone
The answer to “What is happiness to you?” is going to be different for everyone because everyone is different. Some people dedicate their lives to serving others (like teachers). Others pursue achievement in their careers or hobbies. Still others pursue only a life of pleasure, never looking beyond themselves.
Chances are, you need all three levels of happiness in your life. Here are some ideas:
You aren’t wrong for taking pleasure in life–that’s a good thing! Drink good coffee, love your shoes, get yourself a great pillow, put an orchid in your bedroom…the possibilities abound. Make sure you have things you savor and enjoy each day.
If you are a working mama, you might get some of this feeling from your job. If you are a stay-at-home mama, this can be harder to find. Tell the people in your life–your husband, your friends, your family–that you are in need of a little encouragement.
And, in case you haven’t heard it today, let me be the first to say: you’re doing a good job. The fact that you are even reading this article means you want to find happiness and you are doing something about it–way to go!
If you are a mother, then you are already knee-deep in contribution. Most of your life is about helping others! You may also want to look beyond your own family to volunteering at your local school, church, or charity organization. Walk dogs at the animal shelter, donate outgrown kid clothes to people who need them, or call a friend you know is struggling. If you feel the nudge, step out of your own bubble and extend a helping hand to someone else.
The Fourth and Ultimate Level of Happiness
What is happiness in life? Let’s circle back to Aristotle. He tried to answer that question by describing the fourth level of happiness.
4 – Enduring Happiness
Happiness that sustains you means finding the right balance of pleasure, achievement, and contribution.
A huge part of enduring happiness is recognizing what is under your control and what isn’t. It means letting go of what you can’t control instead of stressing about it all the time.
Enduring happiness also means you open your eyes to the blessings around you, and you look for truth, beauty, and goodness in the world.
What is the true meaning of happiness? That, my friend, is different for everyone. You certainly need to take care of yourself, find your right balance of the three levels of happiness, and open your eyes to the wonderful world around you.