Virginia discusses different concepts and the individuality of happiness and if there is a one-sentence answer to the question “What is happiness”?
Just a few minutes ago I was asked what happiness is for me.
Normally I am the great question master… always ahead with the next question, the next concept in mind. I sometimes ask hard-hitting questions and the ones that take us down a spiral: the kind where the more you answer, the more questions arise.
To be confronted with such a question here at this table of the Night Art Club is difficult for me. Surprising when, with my aspirations in psychology counselling, and as a self-proclaimed happiness researcher, I should have the smart-aleck answer in the first second. The truth is, however, that although happiness can be statistically processed (the Happiness institute in Copenhagen is actively conducting research on the subject), I can’t squeeze anything clever into a sentence.
I can tell you about concepts like mindsight and the triangle of well-being and the key points of short-term or long-term happiness. I can tell you about my personal experiences and those close to me. I can present phrases like “Everyone is the architect of his own happiness” on my virtual paper and yet … At the end of the day, I am a person who cannot resist the fast influences of the world, one experience and proof I am evolving.
The consequence for me is that I will always give you dear questioner a different answer, always true and yet never the same.
And if I think about it a step or two further, then maybe that’s exactly what it is for me: Happiness, being happy, happy moments etc. are changeable and individual. A very good friend and I were talking about her buying a new TV – it was definitely a happy moment for her. I do not have a TV and find them kind of ugly and would never have said that about buying one. But let me tell you about my latest acquisition … the dishwasher! Happy never washing by hand again! Can happy moments only be bought? Absolutely not, because although a television, dishwasher or rocket can bring joy to the heart, it has been scientifically proven that purchased things fill up the barometer for short-term happiness.
However, in the long term, it is rather the memories and experiences. Accordingly, investments in the happiness fund are more likely to be made in activities and simply being. Does this mean that Chanel number one can never be bought again and instead the money for the next bungee jump flies away? No, in fact, it is happiness-promoting to link investments with moments – meaning I should rather have scrubbed by hand for a while and bought my new Schnuggy at the next big publication.
One thing I see as a fact from personal experience: happiness is not a fixed permanent state. For me, happiness is like a garden. You enjoy the fragrant flowers, the lush grass and sizzling in the sun. But even the most beautiful garden goes to waste if you don’t get out your rake and spade every now and then and finish off the weeds. This care manifests itself in a thousand and one ways – starting with self-care, deep talks with friends and professional conversations – for me it is part of the usual repertoire of being healthy, just like dental care. Profilaxe of the psyche. That is why it is important to ask not only what happiness is, but also how we can develop it, maintain it and pass it on to others. And since I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask: What is happiness in your eyes?
Whether you are looking for support for your own mental health at university or supporting a friend, help is available.
I am a former exchange student in the UK, who loves to write. Every topic in any way. As I came a lot in touch with questions like this during my distance learning as a psychology counsellor, I want to explore the concepts of happiness.