Why Aren't You Happy?

Happiness: A State of Being

Maybe happiness looks just like this.
Maybe happiness looks just like this. | Source

When You're Not Happy

Everybody knows.

You tell them. You're light dims, and everyone feels its loss.

You've tried. Everyone offers advice.

But the more you try and the more you listen, the more distant happiness seems to be.

What is it to be happy?

Can anyone clearly define happiness or is not being happy easier, like we know it when it's gone?

Is happiness that effervescent quality that makes your body float, lighter than air? Or is it more reflective, settling, like a warm bath of pleasure? Is it more intense, full of insight and new learning?

Is it Joseph Campbell's always elusive "bliss?"

Is happiness level or pitched with hills, valleys and sensuous curves? Is it spiky or enriching to the point of stillness?

So, what is it - happy or not happy?

Are you happy?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Some of both
  • Neither
See results without voting

About The World's Happiest Man

Happiness happens to be my field of interest, for now. I even wrote a book made up of extended ruminations from the world's happiest man.

I also had fun writing a series of articles containing interviews conducted with this mythical figure.

(I may get back to those, but my interest waned a bit when nobody got my obscure references to J. D. Salinger's Glass family stories. I was miffed, literally.)

If happiness happens to be your field, you accept that not much is really known about it and is, therefore, awaiting to be discovered.

One thing I didn't anticipate, however, was that even the basic definition of happiness is unclear and, pursued by both professionals and autodidacts like me, becomes absolutely muddy.

The world's happiest man, as channeled, turned out to be a little bit testy and provocative, not chipper and all accepting. He was, however, all consistent.

He also hankered to be left alone a good bit of the time. Happiness, it seems, does not always crave or require company.

Well, Then, What Does It Mean To Be Happy?

...As If We Didn't Ask Before?

The sad news is that happiness, the mythical state currently pursued, is a chimera, a short cut toward fulfillment that can't be taken. It washes out. Happiness is a dodge and an evasion from personal responsibility.

No? Maybe sometimes?

The consistent state of blissful happiness popping up in books and all over the internet seems nothing more satisfactory than a featureless plateau where every emotion rings the same note. Happiness without contrast is a deflated balloon. And how would anyone know, when neither full nor empty exists to reflect on the other?

That's the happiness I see batted around by academics and an inexhaustible chain of internet commentators. it's thin and colorless, and I don't want it, do you? I'd rather have...

Let's Talk Everyday Talk About Happiness

Back before happiness became a professional academic concern, William Glasser taught me a lot about in his book Reality Therapy. In his book, Glasser took cognitive therapy to a new place: Stop talking about what hurts and why. Start talking about what you are doing to create a better life, here and now.

Birds Of A Feather Really Do Flock Together

The ideas are simple and true. The only party needing a full book for this simple piece of personal wisdom was the publisher.

Next up came my hero and Wayne Dyer's mentor, the great Abraham Maslow. When I studied psychology with an eye on joining the profession,

Maslow and his hierarchy of needs made more sense to me than Freud, Jung or (in third place) Eric Ericson. I could see Maslow's pyramid in daily life. It was so obvious.

Maslow's point was that, after the basics of survival are achieved, a level taken for granted in most of the Western world, the road to self-actualization (meaning happiness) covers a series of increasingly subtle, but sublime achievements.

Such things as successful friendships and esteem are needed to continue up the pyramid. At the peak, self-actualization means "...a state of harmony and understanding."

And Your Point Is...?

My point is that the road to happiness is seldom level, and it never ends. There is always one more point of expansion.

At the very basic level that attracted me to Reality Therapy, the way to happiness is in the next best thought, even if it's simple relief, and the road to ruin is looking again at what made us unhappy, even to better understand the causes. Like draws like, in spite of intentions.

In Maslow, we learn that when we reach a plateau, we will not be content permanently. Friendships, partners and personal riches may abound, but as evolving humans we both want and need more.

Staleness may be more discomforting than failure, although Bob Dylan may be right in singing, there is "...no success like failure, and failure's no success at all."

A Wrap On Happiness

Nothing, except nothing, is more satisfying than closing with a quote from the legend. And so, I have. My next step up Maslow's pyramid will be a meditation on that claim.

Maybe Bob was just being funny, laying out a puzzle.

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Comments 5 comments

Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia

A great read, I'm going to have to come back and go over it again. Being one who is also in pursuit of happiness (as you say aren't we all), you've hit on some truths that I'm now 'happy' to face - the impermanence of it and the climb it takes to attain it. Grateful for the crumbs but would like to have a few slices of the loaf.

David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Thanks. I'm having fun with the happiness gig. I have a few "interviews" with the world's happiest man that I am going to recirculate over the next few weeks as I do the hub karma updates and link to other sides.

Happy to have you on board. I checked your page, and your work sounds fascinating. I'm sure we can learn from each other. Thanks, again.

Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia

Was interesting you mentioned how the word happiness is bandied about, similarly the word love. Geez, the word love has been demeaned so much, I love pizza, I love my car, I love that movie, and we also say I love my wife or girlfriend or husband. Shows the limitation of our language, or do we belittle it?

David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Careless usage. I've tried to make the point that, if you can love peanut butter and also love God, the word was stretched so far it was meaningless. Didn't make a dent in the "love is all" shout it out brigade on facebook and elsewhere. May be talking to the wrong crowd.

UniquelyJen 6 years ago

Your articles on happiness are very detailed and deep enough that you have to come back and read it more than once, which is a good thing. Happiness is a pain in the butt I think because if you are sad, you feel like you are not supposed to be sad, or angry, or anything, because if you do you wont attract anything good, thats what LOA teaches us,and i think that's a bit unfair. if you are sad, so be it. when you are done being sad, then you can move up the scale somehow to be happy again. Happiness just IS. it occurs when you least suspect it over the smallest things.

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