Ah happiness, I love you. If only you could be bottled, stored in abundance and imbibed at one’s leisure. Wouldn’t this make life that little bit smoother, more seamless and easier to negotiate? On the other hand, wouldn’t a life of untrammelled bliss make existence a trifle tedious and a little insipid? For how on earth can we savour the good times unless we experience a bit of purgatory, some good old fashioned mental tension from time to time? Of course, happiness would win the battle, making victory all the sweeter.
Why the fuss? Well it seems, more than ever, there is a huge desire to quantify it. Yet, can it be measured when it is such an elusive, relative concept, particular in its essence and perhaps somewhat indefinable “a happy life is one which is in accordance with its own nature” (Seneca)
One person’s route to happiness is different to the next person. This is its beauty and why surely it is impossible to measure. It is often said that “to love and be loved is the greatest source of happiness in the world.” I couldn’t agree more. Happiness is beauty. Beauty is kindness. Kindness is happiness. To be yourself and give of yourself; this, to me, is the pith of happiness. One doesn’t expect one’s deeds to be reciprocated (if they are, then that’s wonderful). You feel happiness by committing an act of kindness, no matter how trivial it may appear to be. If happiness has an ethical dimension it is because the soul feels good when happiness prevails, “but what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads” (Albert Camus).
Perhaps the most enhancing aspect of happiness is the pleasure that it brings, overbrimming our cells with a sense of delight in life’s infinite possibilities. After all “pleasure is nature’s sign of approval” (Oscar Wilde). Happiness is joyous, is life-enhancing, is creative, is imaginative and is living. As for resilience, well that is something else altogether. It is lovely when happiness happens to us, but it is more delicious when we create it. Through simple acts, its magic percolates our mind, body and soul. Like giving a hug, smiling, dancing, helping someone in need, declaring your love. In the end, I guess, it always comes back to the L word.