To Be Happy

Happiness is well known to all, yet something so far from absolute comprehension. No one knows how to “be happy,” only what it feels like when they are. Life is spent buying things we do not need and doing things we hate. Many people struggle with the idea of joy and what it means to lead a meaningful life. Money is not the route to all of well-being, it makes life comfortable but money does not come with love and family. People are not as happy as they want to be because they don’t know the ways happiness flourishes inside an individual.

There is not a universal way of measuring happiness, in fact there are few ways of measuring contentment in general. Some scholars insist “people’s subjective assessments of their well-being to be unreliable, and they prefer objective indicators like economic and health data” (Sewell para 11). However, one can argue there is no way the data of thousands will tell someone how happy they are. One must look inside themselves to gauge how they feel on a day to day basis. The criteria of measuring one’s happiness is vague, although

Our culture cries for larger salaries and larger houses, but money is not what satisfies our souls. However, one can point to not having enough money as an excuse to why someone is not content.  But, according to Acacia Parks, using money as a means of finding satisfaction is a terrible cycle. “Imagine you unexpectedly get a $10,000/year raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. Before you know it, you’re just as happy as you were before the raise!”( para 3) This shows how monetary value itself cannot change one’s idea of happiness permanently. However, one exception to this rule is if you spend your money on adventures and vacations. Exciting experiences and memories are what make a life worth living.

The materialistic parts of life are not what make us who we are, our experiences do. One becomes accustomed to seeing what they own everyday, therefore the happiness fades over time. While trips and experiences last longer because of nostalgia and memories. A study at San Francisco State University created by Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology, asked a group of 154 people with an average age of 25 about their recent purchases of material goods or experiences. The answers were more satisfactory on the side of memories. The author of the article, Elizabeth Landau, explains the sense of getting closer to friends and family may be a reason of why experiences generate more happiness (Landau para 6). This experiment shows a common misconception of how buying the newest toy does not bring lasting happiness like experiences with friends and family do. Memories last forever, so they are priceless.

Love itself predictably makes those who experience it happy, but an entire half of love is missing. Loving yourself is the first step to welcoming others into your life. The confidence it takes to own up to your mistakes but also have compassion for when you’re feeling down is the ultimate maturity and will lead to true happiness. Barbara Graham, the author of “The Future of Love” acknowledges love as the food to our psychic structure as food and water is to our cells (para 3). Graham is trying to explain how essential love is to one’s everyday life, so a life without it is missing out on a large part of humanity. To love another human being is not the only way of love. For some it could be through a pet or through a job, but the passion of love is indispensable for a fulfilling life.  

The satisfaction of life cannot always be quenched by one’s self, this is accomplished along with friends and family. Spreading kindness gives one a purpose, and takes no effort. For example, parents do not need to take hours out of their day to make sure their kid is not feeling neglected. As the prominent author of a study done by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Andreas Schleicher says “Just talking with their children is something that relates positively to life outcomes; having dinner together,” Schleicher said. “These things are really simple for parents to do. They don’t require an academic degree, they don’t require hours of time” (Danilova). The message Schleicher is trying to get through to his audience is how genuinely paying attention to one’s kids or friends can help them along with their trip to happiness. The little details of paying attention to one’s kids shows them someone cares for them.

It’s ignorant to know all of the ways one can lead a meaningful life with happiness, but there are ways proven to help along the way. One who is happy is not happy all of the time. Not everyone can say they are happy in ways of black and white, sometimes it’s gray. Some people face adversity everyday with clinical depression lingering around their heads like storms. These tips to a meaningful life will not work for everyone, because happiness is different for everyone. A meaningful life does not need to be filled with joy for the entirety of their life, the satisfaction afterwards is what matters.

Works Cited

Danilova, Maria. “US Students Satisfied with Life, but some Foreigners Happier.” Washington

Post, 19 Apr, 2017, pp. n/a, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Landau, Elizabeth. “Study: Experiences make us happier than possessions.” CNN, 10 Feb. 2009.

Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.

Parks, Acacia. “What is Happiness, Anyway?.” Happify Daily. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.

Sewell, Chan. “Denmark Ranks as Happiest Country; Burundi, Not so Much.” International New

York Times, 18 Mar, 2016, pp. 3, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Graham, Barbara. “The Future of Love.” Utne Reader, 1996, pp. 46-51, SIRS Issues Researcher,

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CC BY-SA 4.0 To Be Happy by Sebastian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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