Is happiness an ultimate aim in life?

06 Jun

Well, I guess for many people it is!

And yet, it’s simultaneously one of the most elusive things…

Btw, a thought I’ve not been able to shake for the past couple of days: isn’t just ‘life’ one of *the* most weirdest things ever! I mean, of all the things I’ve experienced, life is right up there as just being completely confusingly crazily ridiculous… but maybe that’s just me! [I must be ‘going through a phase’ as my Mum would say. – how much did I hate it when she said that… just so very patronising, and yet I always knew it was just so very very true!]

Anyway, to get back to my thrilling topic of the day… happiness.

To say “I’m happy” with an honest-glint in your eye is one of the hardest things to do, even when its true. Yet paradoxically, everyone knows that everyone likes to say they’re happy in an optimistic “If I say it, maybe I can believe it” kind of way. Despite me feeling almost ‘dishonest’ sometimes when I try to say I’m happy, I do have a few ‘theories’ as to how it all works, πŸ˜› and think I get on pretty good, all things considered!

I am convinced you can never just ‘get’ happiness. Well, maybe that much is obvious, but let me explain further. I mean, you can’t just do things you like doing, and that makes you happy. The human mind is far more complicated than that!! We can allow ourselves to be depressed, when we should be on top of the world. Or we can try and fool ourselves into being happy, but then know we’re not *really* happy ‘cos we’ve only conned ourself into it…

Anyways, to get back to the positive side of things, I think happiness happens in a side-effect kind of way (to use geek-talk, the language I know!) It’s like, you go do something, then in the middle of it you go “hey, I’m actually happy right now!” and it is a revelation and it makes you smile and no matter what slums are surrounding you, all of a sudden they take on a little more colour than they had before.

And so, in a logical, rationistic kind of way – which may actually seem to be taking πŸ˜› all the fun out of it! – I actually believe I am happy.

Oh, that’s not to say I don’t have as many bipolar moments as the best of them. It’s not to say I don’t simultaneously feel hurt at the loss of friends at work, while being fully and utterly positive about the wonderful company I work for πŸ™‚ . I see no contradiction there, really.

It’s also not to say I don’t cry myself to sleep sometimes when I don’t understand how this complex world all fits together. I still believe it does fit together, but sometimes I get myself bogged down in the details and lose sight of those things that I believe have the highest concentration of side-effect-happiness.

But I do feel I’m beginning to understand what kinds of things *are* ‘happy things’. I’ve tried and tested many ‘techniques’ even in my shorter-than-my-wise-counsellor-friends lives, and have come to an age-old conclusion: “there is no new thing under the sun”.

The next opinion of mine gets rather too technical for such a colourfully creative topic – I think different actions can produce different kinds of happiness. For example, the notion of “It is better to give than to receive.” Both can – and do – make people happy, but one is more of a material happiness, whereas the other is emotional.

Then, some happiness is more long-term than others. I don’t really know how to describe this, other than a ‘physical’ analogy: we’re sometimes willing to go through a painful operation, if it fixes up something that would give us more long-lasting pain.

That works with happiness, too, I’m convinced. Some of my very best friends, I love them because they’re able to tell me the “bad” things. I know it is one of the hardest things to do, to give ‘constructive criticism’ – and to take it! – but I’m not even talking about that, but something deeper. The way sometimes they give you the outside perspective that actually you don’t want to hear ‘cos you feel “shown up” but nevertheless you agree with when you do hear.

Like when your best friend says to you “Rachel, you ought to remember that X in your life takes priority over Y.” when she realises that right now you’ve been putting Y first, but when at other times you’ve assured her that X is more important to you.

(I think that’s what I miss most about my Glasgow friends – we were all close enough to speak to each other like that, and love each other for it… )

On that whole “being long term” note, I think it is perfectly honest to be crying, and yet believe you are happy at the same time.

And I am happy right now πŸ™‚ .


Posted by on Wednesday, June 6, 2007 in philosophy


Tags: ,

19 responses to “Is happiness an ultimate aim in life?

  1. Grant

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    How very Annie Hall-esque πŸ˜‰

    I think the quickest way to dampen a nice moment of happiness is to stop and think “why am I happy?”. Just go with the flow… πŸ˜€


  2. rach

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm


  3. Grant

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Has someone glued your teeth together?


  4. rach

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Why, are you refusing my compliment πŸ˜‰

  5. Grant

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Not at all πŸ™‚ But I’m not too sure that the rest of your loyal fanbase will know what “gpwm” actually is…
    This may help though.


  6. rach

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    gpwm πŸ˜‰ of course!

  7. cath

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I think the quickest way to dampen a nice moment of happiness is to stop and think β€œwhy am I happy?”. Just go with the flow…


    I have to beg to differ, simplistically enough: doing the things you like *is* a way to make yourself happy. And if you really find the world too complex, you could always *think it through*, as a more constructive option than crying. Plus, if you pardon my pedantry, i’d rather you said “the” in the title instead of “a”.

    (Still happy?)


  8. cath

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Ok, several hours and a smitten conscience later: sorry if that comment was a bit mean 😳

    but seriously: introspection? it’s never worth it!

  9. MJ

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    True happiness had no localities,
    No tones provincial, no peculiar garb.
    Where duty went, she went; with justice went,
    And went with meekness, charity and love.
    Where’er a tear was dried, a wounded heart
    Bound up, a bruised spirit with the dew
    Of sympathy anointed, or a pang
    Of honest suffering soothed, or injury
    Repeated oft, as oft by love forgiven;
    Where’er an evil passion was subdued
    Or virtue’s feeble embers fanned; where’er
    A sin was heartily abjured and left;
    Where’er a pious act was done, or breathed
    A pious prayer, or wished a pious wish;
    There was a high and holy place, a spot
    Of sacred light, a most religious fane,
    Where happiness, descending, sat and smiled.

  10. rach

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Cath: πŸ™‚ don’t worry about it! Just got no internet in the flat yet, so didn’t see either of your comments until this morning. And yes, you do have a point (and as a good friend you’re pointing it out to me πŸ˜› thanks!) and yes you were maybe a little blunt about it, but that’s just your way πŸ˜‰ I’m beginning to appreciate!

    MJ: ta muchly, dearie! Far more eloquently and compactly put than I ever could! (Oh, btw, where did it come from?)

  11. Grant

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Herein lies the problem πŸ˜‰

    Grant (07/06/2007 10:30:42): the thing is, i bet you do actually have a daily happiness.txt report
    Rachel (07/06/2007 10:33:13): actually, even I am not *that* bad…. yet!
    Rachel (07/06/2007 10:33:19): (thanks for the suggestion πŸ˜› )
    Grant (07/06/2007 10:33:29): *slaps forehead*
    Rachel (07/06/2007 10:35:49): πŸ˜€
    Rachel (07/06/2007 10:36:05): 😳 I think I’d find it too depressing to have a happiness.txt
    Rachel (07/06/2007 10:36:48): cos I’d have to be honest for it to be worth it, but I’m competitive enough to constantly want improving scores….

  12. rach

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 10:59 am

    …and it all started out with the intention of being a cheerful, light-hearted, encouragingly fun post.

    *failed that one!* :$

    Maybe my heart is too heavy right now to manage that… *stops eating lead*

  13. Grant

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Maybe my heart is too heavy right now to manage that… *stops eating lead*

    A-ha! This could be the cause of all your woes. Anyone who has their esophagus plumbed directly into their heart is always going to have “issues” πŸ˜‰


  14. rach

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Don’t mention plumbing issues… πŸ˜›


  15. cath

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 11:49 am


    do you have a copy of that one by Lachlan Mackenzie – the happy [gender-neutral] man ??

    JC Ryle has an article with the title happiness (if my memory serves me…. but i forgot to look it up last night!

  16. rach

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Google says:

    Oh, and is this the JC Ryle one you mean? Must read it sometime…

  17. cath

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Yes to both!

  18. MJ

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    It came from “the course of time” by Robert Pollock. Not a book I’ve read much of, but Aunty Catherine drew that bit to my attention a long time ago.
    See you next week abw

  19. Naomi

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Right, now i feel i have to stand up for my love of receiving presents. Yes i am earthly and fallen and material, etc, and that is part of it, but the best presents are the thoughtful ones, one which say ‘i know you, you are my friend and i care about you’. so that’s an emotional happiness too because it proves your friendship and friendship with another person is definitely something that makes me happy. And it makes me feel special, and feeling special is one of my favourite feelings.

    Em, i get what you mean about the different types of happiness… so, i’m generally a happy person, i have a feeling of wellbeing most of the time, but then you get those flashes, like when the rain stops and the sun comes out for just a few minutes. And then there’s that feeling of the cup inside my chest which can get filled up with another kind of happiness, and then over the next few days that happiness seeps out and fills me with light. Like a capacitor, if we’re being geeky about it. Yeah.

    nome xxx


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