Saturday, 3 January 2015

What Is Happiness?

I was a bit incensed to learn of the latest global survey about ‘happiness’. For a start, what is the real definition of ‘happiness’; surely it can range from mild contentment to exuberant ecstasy, and is not something that can be measured like a shoe size or expanding waistline.

When I was at school, we were constantly told not to use the word ‘nice’ in our essays, as it was too loose and vague a term. Similarly, using the word happy can be equally as uninformative, with it meaning different things to different people in different situations.

The survey was something I felt driven to write about, but it could be argued that it doesn’t quite fit in with either of my blogs. I suppose that I could have posted this on my other blog, where I certainly achieve some ‘happiness’ in the form of ‘pleasure’ when I go bargain hunting. But I decided that my rural blog was more appropriate, as I experience ‘happiness’ in a more ongoing form of ‘blissful contentment’ due to living in such lovely surroundings.

With regard to my own state of happiness, this fluctuates greatly, depending on current circumstances, the mood of those around me and even the weather! I am happy, as in feeling grateful and fortunate that I have a lovely family and a home (of sorts as it currently stands); I experience ‘happiness’ as in pleasure when reading books, indulging in hobbies or visiting certain places. But there are times in life when I get very sad – losing and still grieving for my two sisters and experiencing some quite difficult times in life, financially and emotionally. Happiness can certainly fluctuate greatly between one day and the next.

A chemical in chocolate reportedly
gives us the 'feel good' factor
I was not impressed, therefore, with the lady who appeared on Breakfast TV, sporting a smug expression and declaring that, “We are all responsible for our own happiness.” Yes, to some extent we can moderate our reactions, but we are not in control of everything that happens to us. Has this woman never experienced an unpleasant, or indeed disastrous, occurrence in her life? Well, lucky her! Losing loved ones, suffering abuse, living in war torn areas and so on are situations which we cannot control or choose. Similarly, those suffering from depression should not be told to, “Pull yourself together”, as depression is often the result of a reaction to awful circumstances or even a chemical imbalance. We would all prefer to be happy, but with the best will in the world that is not always possible.

Anyway, back to the survey. It’s no surprise that the nation rated the least happy was Iraq. Who can blame them with what they have to contend with? There also appeared to be a fair few ‘unhappy’ people in Western Europe, which leads me back to my original question, “What is ‘happiness’ anyway?”

Furthermore, what is the point of this survey in the first place? To state the blooming obvious? To give those who purport to being happy a pat on the back? Or maybe it’s to give us something else to moan about – after all, what really makes many of us ‘happy’ is having a good moan!

No comments:

Post a Comment