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The Happiness Definition - What Makes for a Good Life?

The other night I was talking to a close friend about the meaning of happiness. I had asked him what would make him happy and he gave me an answer that got me thinking about the word “happiness”. My friend feels that happiness is a momentary thing, something that we experience in fleeting, temporary stages of our lives. He does not believe that being happy is an all-defining part of our lives. I asked him what words he would use to define how he would like to feel about his life – he chose “fulfilment, contentment, joy”.

As synchrony would have it, I received a passage today that included some wise words written by Carl Rogers. He describes the adjective “happy” as not being quite appropriate for describing the process of a good life. Rather, he chooses adjectives such as “enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, meaningful” to describe a good life.

In exploring the word “happiness”, I was made to dig deeper. When I think the word “happy”, I see smiley faces, sunshine, lots of yellow colour bouncing all over the place! Being happy is an awesome place to be in and yet we are constantly searching for it. By digging deeper, I began to realise that happiness could be one of the many words I would use to describe a more whole and complete way of life. In other words, happy would not be the only thing I would want to feel if I was describing my life as a whole.

So, now I am thinking about the above-mentioned adjectives of Carl Rogers and I am thinking, “If my life is enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging and meaningful, what would I be experiencing?”. A good life full of happiness, fulfilment, contentment, stimulation, joy, balance, harmony, excitement, curiosity. In having this good life, I will have growth and I will be able to contribute in a positive and meaningful way to the greater good of all, including myself.

Yes, happiness is made up of the many special moments that do indeed only last temporarily. And, we can experience happiness as often as we choose to by identifying these special moments and integrating them into our daily lives. However, perhaps, instead of asking ourselves the question, “What would make me happy?” perhaps, if we are looking at the bigger picture, we would rather ask ourselves, “What would make for a good life?”.

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