The Definition of Happiness

What gives YOU joy and fulfillment?

What is your definition of happiness?

Can you put it into words?

Are you totally satisfied with your life, completely happy?

Or have you given up on experiencing true contentment, total joy and complete happiness?

Ancient philosophers, modern day gurus, scientific geniuses, captains of industry, singers, actors, writers; great minds and some not so great minds all have weighed in with their definitions of happiness. The opinions of happiness are as varied as those giving their opinions.

Here are the “official” definitions of “happiness” from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary;

  • (obsolete) good fortune; prosperity
  • state of well-being and contentment :joy
  • a pleasurable or satisfying experience

The late British writer, actor, comedian, playwright and poet Spike Milligan said “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Apparently Gandhi didn’t buy the “good fortune” or “prosperity” definitions. There’s a reason they’re considered obsolete definitions.

Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in the “self-improvement” field with his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People said "Remember happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.”

“True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller set an example to generations by living out her definition of happiness.

Actress Bette Davis showed considerable insight with her definition; “You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.”

More definition of happiness

17th century author Nathaniel Hawthorne suggested that many of us try too hard in our pursuit of happiness; “Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Robert G. Ingersoll, known for his radical 19th century writings on agnostics stated; “Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.”

On the opposite side of the theological spectrum, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes “To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.”

Author Stephen Covey takes a long-term approach to define it: “Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.”

Og Mandino, author of the classic book The Prophet, spoke of happiness this way;

“Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wasn’t too philosophical with “Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.”

Mark Twain shared a definition many of us can relate to; “Happiness ain't a thing in itself, it's only a contrast with something that ain't pleasant.”

Socrates combined his definition of happiness with his thoughts on marriage: “By all means marry: If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.”

Finally, late in life Nobel Peace Prize Lauriat Albert Schweitzer summed it up surprisingly simply with

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”

Self-esteem quotes for your happiness

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