What is Happiness?

what is happiness

Happiness. It’s something that we all want, but do we really appreciate what makes us happy? Like the concept of “success“, it is perhaps best that we understand what makes us happy, if only so that we don’t fall into the trap of chasing someone else’s version of the word.

The following are 10 quotes that each, in my opinion, give a key insight into what happiness really is:


“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” – George Sand

Living in harmony

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Something that must come from within

“People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.” – Ramona L. Anderson

Enjoying today

“It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis.” – Margaret Bonnano

A state of mind

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

Is something that comes naturally

“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator.” – W. Beran Wolfe

Experiencing both pleasure and meaning

“Happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning” – Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier

Lies in the thrill of creative effort

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Appreciating what we have

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Federick Keonig

The meaning of life

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – Aristotle

* * *

So then, what does happiness mean to you?

Photo by Alli Day

21 thoughts on “What is Happiness?”

  1. Happiness is enjoying what you have, who you are, and where you are… not thinking about what you don’t have, who you aren’t, or where you “should” be.

  2. I think our ultimate goal in life is… generally, to find happiness. I think it’s something unique to everyone and I also think that sometimes the “key” to happiness can change overtime. Nice post, Peter. :)

  3. A very tough old Polish guy that I worked with used to keep his office hot, to the extent that it interfered with the, admittedly primitive, computers.
    He said the reason was that at the age of 13 he’d been taken into a Nazi labour camp. Everybody he’d known from before the war died. What kept him going was the belief that if he could be warm and have enough to eat, he could be happy.
    So, he turned the heaters up, he brought a nice packed lunch of rye bread and sausages and he certainly seemed happy.
    Sometimes I think that people from comfortable backgrounds (like me) need a sense of perspective.

  4. I would have to say that happiness is being satisfied with what, who, and how you got what you have. That is not to say that you cannot be driven to achieve or obtain more, but happiness is not always seeking it around the next corner, it is cherishing what is at the corner and looking forward to what ever may come next.

    Amazing article, and the picture sure shows “happiness”!


  5. Albert | UrbanMonk.Net

    Hey mate! I love the quotes approach:

    Here’s my favourite quote on happiness, which is very different from all the others:

    “Nobody wants to suffer, but we carry the seeds of suffering within us.
    The whole point of working on ourselves is to burn those seeds.
    The burning itself might cause a little suffering, but it is nothing
    Compared to a whole life of misery”
    ~ Osho

    Keep up the good work ;)
    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  6. In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama talks about this. That each of us has a natural baseline of happiness. Outside events may affect it in the short term–winning the lottery might make you happy for a little while, losing a close friend or relative might make you unhappy for a little while–but soon, you return to your baseline.

    As a result, you cannot look to outside trappings of success or luxury to make you happy, you must look within to identify and root out that which makes you unhappy. And what makes you unhappy is the sense of failure, inferiority and disappointment that comes from looking outside yourself for the key to happiness.

  7. I think the enjoying today quote hits the nail on the head. If you do not appreciate what you have, everything else you do to be happy is meaningless. If you acquire everything and do everything you set out to have or do, but keep longing for more rather than appreciating what you have, you will not find happiness. Those things we take most for granted must be appreciated.

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