Exploring What Does Happiness Mean to You

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I close my eyes and images, blurred with elusive memories, floating in front of my eyes. I open my eyes with discontent, close my eyes once more to focus on the happiest moments. This time the ambiguous images have transformed to vivid images yet I still struggle to recall the most ecstatic moment. Why is it so? This occurs because I do not only have one moment which I reminisce as the happiest moment but I recollect too many delighted moments. As human beings, although we possess cognitive abilities and are considered to be highly-thought oriented, the quality of our lives is often determined by our emotions. People often strive to pursue the position emotion, a feeling of joy called happiness but like water or air, it refrains to be clenched in our hands. It marks as a misconception to believe that happiness can be dominated and remain perpetual under control. Merriam Webster’s dictionary refers happiness as “an intangible fleeting feeling of joy that people strive to attain in pursuit of satisfaction in life.” The derivation of the word “happiness” lies all the way back to the old Norse, in which the root word of happiness “hap” signifies “luck” or “chance.” Happiness, a contagious pill of energy, is the resilience to withstand the obstacles that life inevitably brings, accentuating on positive aspects of life, appreciating the presence of supportive network of people, and therefore ultimately cultivating a life filled with satisfaction.

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Life may not always sail smoothly nor will it always awaits with a bed of roses. Life is like a road with several bumps, cracks, twists and turns along the way. During my childhood, I perceive life as rainbow with all seven days overwhelmed with joy and laughter. I spent my time playing Barbie dolls, having tea parties with them, dressing them in new princess gowns, simply being happy in my own little world with no worries. I still vividly remember the joy I felt when I got to go home with a shiny new Barbie tugged in my arms to be added to my collection. During that time, happiness means having the opportunity to play with my favorite Barbie dolls for hours without my mom compelling me to memorize the multiplication tables. As easy and undemanding as life was during my childhood years, I could not wait to grow up. It is not until I finally get there and begin to emerge into adolescence, I gradually learn that life anticipates with much more difficult and complicated obstacles than I had imagined. As I grow up, school stress, family and society’s demands and expectations begin to kick in as life welcomes with various inevitable obstructions. When these difficult and challenging moments occur, fear and unhappiness (sorrow) may overwhelm us, obstructing our way to happy lives. We can’t simply wish our troubles go away like dust in the wind. We can’t erase them. We can’t hide away. Fear acts like an undetected cancer, which once active, will spread uncontrollably and damage positivity. Putting too much focus on the obstacles can break our spirit, crush our hearts, strip our energy and rob our happiness away. Therefore, we must move on and keep optimistic mindsets through these tough times, believing that the situation is temporary. We must acknowledge that we live in a world, filled with flaws and imperfections where problems will always exist. The thought may seem daunting but we must learn to accept the reality. True happiness is to enjoy the present, without stress and anxiety about the unforeseeable challenges that awaits in life.

The myth of true happiness includes only smile with absence of tears. As our experience grows, we realize that life combines a mix of good and evil, sad and happy moments. I recently watched an animated movie “Inside Out”, which portrays a great example of how sadness and other emotions play critical role in Joy’s mood. When we find ourselves in good times, we celebrate our triumphs. When we find ourselves going through a difficult time, we ought to reflect our past accomplishments and recall the times we dealt with these challenging circumstances. Happiness is being prepared to smile and laugh, finding ways to stay upbeat no matter the situation.

Happiness is not about attaining a perfect life—rich parents, high-paying jobs, luxurious homes, expensive cars and mansions. These materialistic possessions do not denote happiness. Even if the latest model car, shining diamond ring or cute outfit may make a person happy, it represents a momentary pleasure, leaving one to desire for “better,” superior ones. Overtime, the new model car will get old, diamond will collect dust and the outfit will become outdated. We, human beings, are in constant chase to earn more money and acquire more upgraded items. No matter how much we keep trying and obtain our goals, there always seem to be more left to be done. We waste our vital life forces, constantly chasing more of everything and in this process of wanting to have more, we gradually breed greed and lose our humanity. As human beings, we are born to feel, love, appreciate and enjoy life, but not to function like robots and machines. A true genuine happiness is the inner power of contentment that one must cultivate within oneself, not relying on the gratification of desires for materialistic possessions.

True happiness derives from appreciation of positive and nurturing relationships of those people around us. Positive and loving relationships with family and friends fill us with a sense of warmth and contentment, bringing support and encouragement when we need it most. They congratulate and smile with us during our victorious moments and stay there for us during our sorrowful moments. True happiness is when we are showered with unconditional love by these supportive group of people. It might sound cliché but happiness is the appreciation of the small little things in life. It means sharing heaps of food with family and friends and eating them until our stomachs burst. It means watching TV shows and Korean soap operas, laughing and crying together. It means being a part of one big family, where Chinese New Year is the best time of the year, full of thick red envelopes in our hands. It means strolling around the night market together, arms linked around each other, knowing that street food will never be quite hygienic but it is cheap and flavorsome. All these moments of joy and laughter with warm and caring people generate happiness.

Happiness is about choosing to see the adventure in every moment, choosing to understand that there will always be light after the dark and that there is always good and hope in every circumstance, no matter how grim things may loom ahead. Happiness isn’t about smiling all the time or never feeling sad at all, but instead, happiness means being able to appreciate the ups and downs in life. By appreciating these moments, an overwhelming feeling of joy will fill us up, giving us hope and wings to fly to a journey of happiness. Happiness is like a plant that must be watered daily with gratitude for it to bloom in one’s life.

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