What does happy really mean

Sparks asked a question in Share Your World – Are you Happy – if so why if not why not.   The answers from those who played along were interesting and led her to ask another question

“What is the limbo gray area between ‘happy’ and ‘contented’?

I’ve been thinking a great deal about what happiness really is and whether it is possible  to be happy all the time.    The dictionary definition of happy is ‘feeling or showing pleasure or contentment and there are many synonyms for happy –  content, cheerful, joyful, carefree, untroubled and the list goes on!

The limbo, grey area is how you feel when you’re not exuberantly happy, ecstatic or so joyful you can’t contain yourself. Life is tough! You’re not going to feel on top of the world all the time!


And don’t neglect the other emotions – sadness, anger, jealousy, empathy, repulsion –  all have their place.  You would not be a complete human being if you did not feel different emotions.   The thing is we all have different personalities.  A life coach once told me that there are three core emotions that define us – Joy, Sadness and Anger.   How you handle your emotions are affected by which of those is your dominant emotion.  If Joy is not your core emotion it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and if it is, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be sad.   My core emotion is anger – and it helps me deal with stuff!   My anger helps me express how I feel and get it out – of course in a constructive way.  Sad core people find it hard to express anger and tend to go into a dark place.  They need to learn to let things go and not allow all the sadness in the world to make them unhappy.   They are probably the most caring people among us – they’re the ones who empathize and offer support to others even when they themselves are in the doldrums.  Sad people can feel happy but it’s harder for them.     We are all different and we just need to learn how to recognise and work with all our emotions.

I believe that nobody can make you happy but they certainly can make you unhappy.  If a child dies or you lose everything in an earthquake or fire – of course you’re going to be unhappy.  When my cousin was tragically  killed in an accident they wanted to sedate my aunt.  She refused, “I don’t want to numb my feelings – I want to feel sad for losing my boy!”  And she was right! Maybe some of us can’t get through trauma without sedation and that’s fine but they should be given the choice.   It’s not going to take away that feeling of loss – ever!  You don’t get over a trauma like that – you always feel it but you do learn to live with it. I am still sad about losing my parents, my aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.  And even years later I shed a few tears for them – that’s what we as humans do – we’re sad, we’re angry, we’re resentful – but we deal with it and move on with our lives – nursing those hurts but not letting them bring us down completely.  It is not compulsory to be happy all or even most of the time – some people have circumstances that make it impossible for them to be cheery, but they carry on and do the best that they can.

When I was a child I believed that it was because of people that I was unhappy – the other kids were mean to me, the teacher didn’t like me, if I lived in a nicer neighborhood things would be better.  My mother told me that if I kept crying and being miserable nobody would like me and one day it sank it and I worked on my joy.   It took a while and meeting my best friend forever certainly helped – but it was up to me to find joy in my life.

best friend

So back to the question – I don’t believe there is one grey, limbo state to be in.  It changes all the time.  Life is a challenge.  We need each other to get through the bad times and to share the good.   It helps tremendously to have family and friends but there are plenty of happy single people making it on their own.  If mental illness is part of one’s problem it’s essential to surround oneself with people.  I so admire those who recognise that they need help and go and get it.  They drag themselves up and show up at places they don’t want to be because deep down they know it’s what they need.

I also believe that if one’s core emotion is sadness – make friends with somebody whose chirpy.   Surround yourself with cheerful people – you need them to help you find joy and they need you to empathize with them when they’re down.


Those who are chirpy – don’t judge – be there for the anxious.  I promise they are not being anxious to annoy – they need uplifting.  Try to put things in perspective for them – but in the gentlest way and there’s nothing like laughter to lighten a situation.

I read this about Eeyore and it makes so much sense.  Here is a quote from the link

“Eeyore was often sad, he didn’t look on the bright side often, usually moved pretty slowly, and his dialogue in the book is almost always written, “said Eeyore, gloomily.” For many people, being diagnosed with depression sounds almost as bad as a death sentence. Because honestly, a lot of people in today’s society still view people with depression as broken or sick and that they need medication or to talk to someone. And maybe Eeyore did need all of those things. He could have very well benefited from medication or a counselor. But there was one thing that Eeyore had that many real people who suffer from depression don’t: The Hundred Acre Wood Gang.”

The gang.png

In conclusion, when I say I am happy, I mean that in general I am. I’m an optimist and have a positive attitude.  Maybe I put my head in the sand because I don’t allow the chaos of the world to affect me.  I leave that to my hubby and he fills me in with how awful things are sometimes. This keeps me being a bit more realistic about the state of the world but once I’m over being depressed about it, I look on the bright side and point out the positives to my darling.  This stops him from falling into deep depths of despair because believe me in this country there is a lot to be worried about!   I’m not only talking about politics making us unhappy though – there is always stuff to deal with.  But one of us tends to let it get him down while the other looks on the bright side.  This is how we balance each other out and remain sane!


3 thoughts on “What does happy really mean

  1. Pingback: What Does Happiness Really Mean | Diary of an Adventurous Retiree

  2. Melanie B Cee

    Lovely response to that question! I suffer with chronic depression and a lot of other stuff that has molded me into a ‘gloomy gus’ sort of person. I do know the tools for looking on the bright side and finding the joy in simple everyday things, but now and then (like now) I just don’t seem to be able to pick them up and use them. I think I moan about it too much too, but that’s one tool I’ve found that always works “writing out my pain and sadness”. If that’s gone, I really fear what might happen to me, so I use it. And the ‘chirpy’ folks? Sometimes hard to find. THere are more angry or sad people in the world – or maybe those are just who I notice the most. And the no-nonsense ones who believe that one can shrug anything off and just get on with life. I’d love to meet a real chirpy bird IRL, but so far, no joy. Literally.


  3. puppy1952 Post author

    I hear you, Melanie and agree that writing is very therapeutic. Don’t even think of giving it up. It certainly helps to put things into perspective.
    We all need time to indulge in weeping and gnashing of teeth from time to time – don’t bottle it up.
    At my school the teachers always greeted the children individually as they entered the classroom. The kids would hold up 1,2,3 or 4 fingers to indicate how they were feeling – 4 – I’m in an excellent mood 3 – I’m just fine 2 – I’m not feeling that great 1 – I feel like crying. Being allowed to express, right at the start of the day, how they felt meant that they knew they were understood and it gave the teacher a heads up of what to expect from the child that day. They were also allowed to bring up their gripes in care circles every day. Their peers could then empathize or offer solutions. Usually I would encourage the 1s and 2s to try to think of one positive thing that might cheer them up. By the end of the morning they would usually came back and say they now felt 3 because – “I’m with my friends or school is fun – or I’ve got soccer after school!”
    We tend to encourage each other to talk about our problems but perhaps this should be balanced by talking about the bright side too – if, like Eeyore, we could only find it.



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