This may sound like a strange question but, since we don’t go around taking our happiness temperature every day, many people don’t know whether they are happy or not.
Many people know when they are unhappy, but they often don’t know when they are depressed. And, no, unhappiness doesn’t always cause depression and depression doesn’t always accompany unhappiness, even though it may seem impossible to separate the two.
If you ask someone if he is happy, the response is often, “I’d be happy if I had this” or “I’d be happy if I could be that.” They don’t say that they could be happier if they had this or they were that; they just say they would be happy if…
And this leads me to wonder if they know what happiness is and if they would recognize it in themselves if they were happy.
I have seen many people walk around as if they have a black cloud hanging over their head. When I ask them about their lives, I’m always surprised to find that many of them don’t have insurmountable problems. Most of them have enough money to pay their bills, even if they don’t have enough money to have a life of luxury. And most of them are in relatively good health.
The disturbing thing is that they identify unhappiness with what they don’t have rather than identifying happiness with what they do have.
What a sad way to look at one’s life. To always be yearning for what you don’t have and always feeling incomplete or a failure for what you aren’t.
A person doesn’t have to walk around smiling and singing to feel happy. You can have a serious expression and still know that you are happy. And there are different levels of happiness and they may keep changing from day-to-day or even from hour-to-hour, and they may often depend on what’s going on in your life at that moment.
But, basically, it’s that feeling of well-being, of finding pleasure in small things and being grateful for what you have. It’s that knowingness that material things might make you happier for the moment, but they don’t bring happiness any more than they could define happiness. It’s also the ability to identify happiness when you have it.