Are you happy?

Are you happy?

Last evening I thought about the state of being we call happiness. I realized that I don’t ask myself often if I’m happy. I never have. But I’ve always recognized (and been grateful for) moments of happiness, and I’ve had my share.

For most people family plays an important role in happiness. The absence of family certainly makes us unhappy. For most of us, loved ones are part of the picture. Many of my happiest moments involve my children. Some, a man. Others, friends. Many happy moments have been entirely about my own accomplishments or experiences. A piece of writing I felt good about. Time spent with magnificent works of art. An unexpected encounter with a fascinating mind. Beautiful shoes. Yes, even a great hat.

Are you happy? Do you think about it?

When is the last time you were happy?

I remember nine days when I was smitten-and-not-quite-in-love. In Paris. Writing daily, seeing art, walking. Staying by myself in a studio apartment. No one to worry about except me. Rare. So rare, that time to myself. I was completely happy.

I can still recreate the shape of that feeling, if not its mass or its temperature. It is greater than a summation of happy moments. More intricate than ingredients to be listed. It is alchemy, a state of wholly-owned self, full capacity in a pleasurable process of expansion. It is a burrowing inward where light flourishes, alone, as well as in the company of another.

Contentment is more familiar; it is warm bread, the face of your child, sleeping. The stack of bills on the kitchen table, paid. If contentment is warmth, happiness is fire.

How often are you happy?

Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City fame courtesy AskMen dot comWhen I say that I love Sex and the City for the relationships among the women – funny, honest, imperfect – the men I know roll their eyes and say “yeah, sure.”  The women I know nod.

In the Sex and the City Movie, there was an exchange I’ll never forget, as Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is assessing her relationship of five years.

“How long has it been since you were happy?” one of her friends asks. “Six months,” she replies.

Then she asks Charlotte: “How often are you happy?”

Her answer: “Every day. Maybe not all day every day, but everyday.”

What a response. Can you imagine what it would be like to feel happiness every day? Even a little?

What makes you happy?

Sometimes, we dwell on what makes us unhappy. It seems easier, though it shouldn’t be.  Do you ever find yourself doing that?

I know what makes me happy:

  • My children, laughing.
  • Fewer money worries.
  • Work that matters, and pays my bills.
  • Someone to love, and love me back.
  • Writing well.
  • Speaking French.

It seems strange, looking at my list and the sequence of items. What makes us happy shifts and shuffles the longer we live; putting it into words is illuminating. Writing well and speaking French are the easiest to attain (which does not make them easy). They are also the only pieces of my personal happiness puzzle in which I have a major hand. Is the absence of happiness linked to lack of control?

Must we control our environment in order to be happy? Or just our fair share?


Love and sex are part of what makes us happyThen there is passion. To pursue what I love. Sexual passion. Intellectual passion. Ah. Now, now I see.

Nine days in Paris. The intersection of everything I love, with the exception being that my sons were not there, but they were on holiday and well. Yes. Intellectual spark, sensual play with a man who understood my most private selves. Speaking French. Writing well.

I remember marveling at the time, rolling the words around on my tongue, in two languages. Aloud. Je suis heureuse. I am happy. This is happiness.

How do you define happiness?

  • How do you define your happiness?
  • How has it changed?
  • Where do you seek it?

© D A Wolf



  1. says

    I define happiness as those moments when the stress and worry fall away. Life doesn’t have to be perfect — but it has to be punctuated with laughter and moments that make me see the connections between myself and those around me.

    When I was younger, I thought happiness was a place I’d reach one day. I didn’t realize that happiness is state of mind and that I can be happy if I focus on the present, treat myself with respect, and just enjoy the wonderful things I already have.

    I truly believe that when I stopped SEEKING, happiness found me.

  2. says

    I like the way Kelly put it. I don’t think much about happiness, but I relish in every smile, every time I laugh, every moment I feel bursting with love. Happiness is like any other emotion, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Rather than thinking about, ‘when will I be happy again?’ I just enjoy the times that I am.

  3. Nicki says

    I have to say I am with Kelly. When I stopped SEEKING happiness, it found me. I am truly like SATC and Charlotte. I am happy every day, maybe not all day but definitely every day.

    The “things” that make me happy are not necessarily material items. Friendships make me happy. My children make me happy. Writing – even on those days it feels like a chore – makes me happy. Because these “things” are parts of my every day, it is easy to say I am happy every day.

    I don’t know if I can define happiness, though. As we all perceive what is going in our lives and in others’ lives through the eyeglasses of our upbringing, our environment, what I say is happiness will differ from others.

  4. says

    Yes I am happy! Even when something that is supposedly ‘bad’ happens- I have come to the point where I can find inner happiness and it does not affect me like it used to. It is a strange combination of existentialism/ spirituality that I have been cultivating for the past three years. I tell myself- no matter where I go- there I am! So I better enjoy myself :)

  5. says

    I, too, like the way Kelly put it.

    Despite all the (almost daily) crap that I have to endure, I’m still happy. I laugh often, love, live and pursue my passions. I have joy in my life.

    Sometimes I get a little pissed that many of those things get derailed but the injustice of it all ignites even more passion in me; passion that often comes out in my writing on my blog. And that in itself has turned a negative into positive. A big one. Without going through the things that I have I wouldn’t have been inspired to start my blog and it has been very rewarding for me in many ways, which makes me happy. Go figure.

  6. says

    I am VERY happy to discover your blog.

    I am able to do happy in the moment even when the overarching theme of the pudding seems to be more ennui filled. Even when I am unhappy the following things can make me happy:

  7. Lily my Westhighland Terrier
    writing well
    gorgeous clothes
    good hair
    great coffee
    temperatures cool enough to require a sweater
  8. says

    I’m not sure anything *makes* me happy. I can choose that emotion at any moment. There may be things that trigger my memory of happiness. There are those things that remind me that it is always there, waiting for my acknowledgment.

    And I, like everyone else, agree with Kelly too! I no longer seek it. I do my best to remember it inside me and share it with everyone around me.

    Great post!

  9. says

    The things that “make” me happy can change. The constants are the love of my daughter, my friends, and my family. I’m happiest though, when I have my mind firmly planted in today. No looking at the past or wishing for a better future. Sitting in a quiet room by myself and getting grateful for what I have at that very moment is what gives me the most happiness. I agree, it’s a choice. Some things can make me more comfortable (money, a nicer place to live, new clothes, etc) but unless I accept that what I have when I have it is all I’m supposed to have at that very moment, there’s no way I can every achieve happiness. Great post. Thanks.

  10. j says

    I think it is tough to feel the happiness last when you are trying to survive and get by.

    I feel moments of happiness, but they don’t last as long as they used to. My daughter gives me immeasurable joy, but sometimes the loss of my family and the loss of sharing that joy tinges it in a way, or makes me feel like it doesn’t last as long. Maybe because there is no one to talk about it or enjoy the moments with.

    dad, are you a buddhist? Some of my good friends are Buddhists and I really appreciate the perspective of Buddhism, as a tangent on this, there have been studies recently on the many benefits of meditation, though i have not been able to develop a meditation practice (i do like to space out riding the muni buses, not sure it counts) at least when i am not listening to music on my iphone, i hope i don’t wash it in the laundry… (but i digress, a moment of happiness via joking)

    For me, it is hard to enjoy happiness when i feel so much stress. Plus i am sort of a worrier by nature. So it feels more natural (in a way) to worry, and i don’t think worrying is conducive to happiness either.

    i do enjoy so much reading your words Ms. B, they don’t always make me happy, but they make me think and feel.

  11. says

    My chère Wolfe,

    I could go on and on, but now I’m going to bed which makes me immensely happy.

    I’ve been thinking the entire night about your question and will tell you everything that passed, passes and will pass through my mind tomorrow.

    One thing that made me happy was to be on your list. It makes me feel rewarded, flattered, accomplished — all sorts of wonderful things. And I thank you.

    À demain,

  12. says

    I’ve tasted that Paris happiness of which you write—a day in the Dordogne, awakening in thick mist to excellent food, exploring cliff dwellings with my love, excellent lunch, seeing cave art and being utterly transfixed and transformed by the pulsing spirit that ran eternally through bison and horses thundering along a limestone veil, dinner at a restaurant where everything was round, where cookies could be written about by Proust, and wine made stones, sun and Van Gogh crows come to life in a glass, sex befitting the sealing of such a day and sleep to the sound of water flowing past the window…

    I spent years yearning for the return of such a day… until parenting, writing, yoga and working conspired to help me simply want what I have… and so I must admit that I am only recently happy most every day—and no longer afraid that this might make anyone else unhappy.


  13. says

    I am learning happiness one day at a time. I know more and more that I have to rely on myself for my own happiness. It is a slow learning curve for me. I do know my job totally turns me on. My friends, when I see them, are a passion of mine. Unfortunately, relationships closer than friendship continue to frustrate me. Maybe it is time to not worry about that so much?

  14. Linda says

    I read this post and actually took a day to think about it. Am I happy? To be honest, I’ve never really thought of it. I feel like I’m running all the time and never stop. I made a list of things that make me happy. What that showed me, is yes, in the midst of all the craziness… I am happy.

    Thank you for a lovely post and for making me stop and think.

  15. says

    Big question, brave post. I think about this topic – happiness – a lot. Maybe too much. I think as a society we have come to explore this concept at every turn, to constantly scrutinize our own levels of well-being. And part of me thinks that in studying something so intensely, we lose its beauty, its rawness, its nature. I don’t know. What I do know is that I like your honesty and your perspective and your nod to a breed of happiness that is both fleeting and fierce. Thanks for this very thoughtful post.

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