Present Tense

Define Happiness

Happiness is elusive to me.  What is it? How do you recognize it?  How do you nurture it?  It appears that the more we get, the less happy we are.  Read the numerous happiness surveys that are published every year.  The land of milk and honey is full of the fat and UNhappy.

My understanding of happiness is beginning to evolve, which is a good thing, since I’ve spent the last few years feeling like I’d never grasp it.  I think I was was fairly happy as a kid; most of my memories are of good times.  I think I was happy in college and I was happy when I met and married my husband.  Obviously, there were times of unhappiness and disappointment in my life, but that’s normal, right?  I’m currently in a phase where I’m feeling restless, but not necessarily unhappy.

What fascinates me are people who unequivocally say, “yeah, I’m happy”.  Period.  No buts, disclaimers, back-peddling or guilt.   Women in particular, seem to have trouble embracing the concept of  happiness or contentment.  Admitting or submitting to that, means we’re not working on ourselves and EVERYONE has work to do on themselves, don’t they?  Nobody is perfect and to proclaim your happiness means that you are somehow better than your imperfect sister friends.  Or maybe that’s just my bias.

We did a quick segment on our radio show, asking people to tell us their favorite way to waste time.  One woman called and said, taking a nap.  I replied that in my opinion, if you’re tired, you should sleep.  She replied “well, my mother always said napping is a waste of time.  Think of all the other more productive things you could be doing”.

Ah, yes…..the “my mother said” syndrome.  We’ve all fallen back on that one, haven’t we ladies? The idea that ‘productive’ overrides filling your soul or doing something just because you want to.   Happiness isn’t an all or nothing proposition.  It’s a series of little epiphanies; of living in the moment.

It’s recognizing what you’re feeling, while you’re feeling it.  That feeling could be joy, it could be contentment, it could be orgasmic, it could be surrender, or clarity but in that moment, what you’re feeling is happiness.  Feel it, remember it, catalog it and internalize it.  Happiness doesn’t necessarily explode, but rather, it seeps and sprinkles.

Work on being open to it.  A nice nap is a great start.

July 25, 2011 - Posted by | Musings | , , ,


  1. wow your blogs are awesome!! Keep writing I love them!!

    Comment by Marge Beem | July 25, 2011 | Reply

  2. Jane,
    Thank you for such an inspiring post. I, too, had a mother that said the same thing about napping. I have always had trouble getting past the ‘I must be productive in everything I do’ mindset. I want to thank you for suggesting an alternative to explore. It seems so simple but can be so hard to just be in the moment. I will take your words to heart as I continue to work towards being conscious in my own life.
    Thank you, sister friend, for what you bring to Denver each morning.

    Comment by Laura | July 25, 2011 | Reply

  3. I remember how overcome with guilt I was after taking my first nap. Now, I love them and reading a book or taking a stroll (not a power walk!) or chatting on the phone or sitting on my front porch watching the world go by or looking up at cloud formations. I’m getting better–and happier–little by little.

    Comment by Cori Jackamore | July 25, 2011 | Reply

  4. For me Happiness and contentment go together-I’m pretty content in my life right now-Family is all doing well-I’m employed, and my husband is in construction and is, really, gainfully employed right now!!! and I’m getting to enjoy alittle more traveling. And, just because a person doesn’t smile all the time doesn’t mean that they’re not happy!!!!

    Comment by deb plumb | July 26, 2011 | Reply

  5. Hi Jane, I have been thinking about your questions since yesterday….First off, happiness cannot be given to you, nor can you give it to anyone else. It is a matter of being, accepting, gratitude for our gifts of life, health, home, family…BEING. But, you know all that.

    Mostly you have a handle on it….the thing about having to be BETTER than anyone else, is a myth…you can have goals, but they are your measure, not anyone else’s expectations. Yes, we have responsibilites..
    to be fiscally smart, you are. To treat others as we’d like to be treated… (hopefully, that is in a healthy, sane way), be kind to your fellow man. SMILE….that is a gift for yourself as well as the recipient.
    Don’t worry about the neighbors opinions of your actions, just so they are pleasing to you and not offensive to them, I guess that goes along with the treat others. Find fun in our foibles. Try not to be down on yourself if you don’t get everything you planned to accomplish, DONE…. we can only give it our best shot. Life sometimes interferes. SMILE…. it radiates inward, as well as outward…. it is beautiful!

    As far as the ‘mother said’ thing… Do you remember as a small child, we thought that our parents knew everything, then as we grew older we challenged just about everything they said? We were in the process of thinking for ourselves…. but those ‘voices’ do creep in once in a while….as do our God directives.
    Are you still searching for the GOD in your life? The power from above? I think we are all still doing that.
    I do believe He is there for us. Pray. Ask, and you shall receive…Maybe not immediately…patience.

    We can all smile, even if it’s only with our eyes. and forgive…
    There’s a great freedom in forgiveness, for ourselves and others.

    You can be happy and imperfect….it’s okay.
    I hope you are smiling, Didn’t intend this to be a lecture…
    I’m going for a nap.
    Love ya.

    Comment by Adrienne Blue | July 26, 2011 | Reply

  6. Someone once asked me if I was happy and I said I didn’t know! That was a long time ago and now I am able to say YES, I am happy (mostly). Someone else asked me if I ever get lonely and I said NO, I have friends, I have family (though they don’t live in the same area as I do) and I have a cat. What is it with these questions? As if the people asking could really do anything if I answered no! I agree with Adrienne, no one can “make” you happy except yourself, though other people do contribute their energy to that which is around you. I like your “Happiness doesn’t necessarily explode…” line!

    Comment by Imasink | July 28, 2011 | Reply

  7. 1. Are some people “born” with angst? Is angst a neurosis?
    2. Are some people naturally more introspective and therefore think more critically about the concept of happiness?
    3. In the book “Authentic Happiness” (it’s kind of academic) a huge takewaway is to avoid negative people. Good luck. Trying to fix weaknesses won’t help, it says; rather, incorporating strengths such as humor, originality and generosity into everyday interactions with people is a better way to achieve happiness.
    4. I’ve been blessed with a happy disposition but a restless spirit. Gives me angst.
    5. GREAT BLOG as always my friend.

    Comment by Janice | August 2, 2011 | Reply

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