Happiness is an abstract noun which is a morphological combination of a qualitative adjective and a derivational suffix. So, morphologically ‘happiness’ refers to a quality or state which is associated with a specific kind of emotion. Most of the time, the emotion is considered something good and positive. However, happiness does not merely mean to feel good or positive or joyful; it is more than that. Happiness is an optimal state of being which can hugely influence our lives, performance and interpersonal relationships. It is something that is cherished and envisioned by all. It is a common aim to be achieved by everyone. It is a direction that everyone wants to take to reach a successful and joyful goal.
Everyone wants to be happy. We do almost everything for the sake of happiness. Some people have plenty of money. They can buy whatever they wish to. Still they look for happiness. Some can hardly manage food for a day. Still they remain happy with what little they have. So, the concept of happiness actually varies from person to person. It is because happiness is not a constant feeling. It is something that is determined by the choices we make for ourselves. So, instead of saying “we are happy”, we can say, “we choose to be happy”. Happiness is not just a simple feeling, rather it is a matter of choice.
For some people, happiness is all about accepting the current situation and trying to adapt to it. The parents may try to give more time to their children to make them smile more. When children are accompanied by their parents, they feel secured and happy at the same time. This sort of happiness lasts far longer than the previously mentioned one. It is because the temperament of human beings lasts longer than objects. Also, psychologically and biologically, human beings want human contacts. When parents are physically around the children, the good hormones in both of them keep releasing and make them happy for longer time. So, here in this case, both parents and children choose to be happy by following a simple formula: by staying together.
So, happiness is an experience that is differently experienced by different people. However, there are a few simple ways to be happy. First of all, we should accept who we are and what we have. If we cannot accept ourselves, we can never be happy. Happiness lies within us. So, it is important to know our limitations. However, it is also important to remember that our shortcomings and weaknesses are our strength. These are the things which help us shape and set our limits and goals. So, instead of underestimating our weaknesses and get angry with ourselves, we should work on it in order to be happy.
Secondly, we should limit our expectations. Higher ambitions and over expectations are silent killers. They eventually make us restless, greedy and frustrated. This is why we should limit our expectations. It doesn't mean that we should stop dreaming of being happy. We must keep on dreaming and working on fulfilling our dreams. This workforce will bring us joy and happiness once we accomplish it.
Thirdly, while thinking of our own happiness, we should think about the happiness of others. If we can make others happy by doing good jobs and spreading our helping hands, we will ultimately become happier. Our karma speaks out loud. So, we should selflessly try to make a sustainable happy society where everyone will remain happy and try to make others happy.
On the afore-mentioned note, in 2012, UN, in the conference on happiness, declared 20 March as International Day of Happiness. The first International Day of Happiness was held on 20 March 2013. From then on, every year on this day, UN celebrates and promotes happiness all over the world putting emphasis on global happiness and its impact on the development and peace of the world.
On the personal level, happiness does wonders. When we feel happy, we tend to do more productive jobs. We feel positive and proactive. We feel like making the whole world happy. For example, when a teacher starts checking scripts in a happy mood, he/she tends to give relatively better marks to the students. Then when the students get good marks, they feel motivated and try to do even better in future examinations. And they work hard to reach their goals.
This is how happiness begets more happiness. It increases in proportion when it is shared. Meanwhile we should also remember that it is a choice that we have to make for ourselves. So, whether you want to be happy or not, the choice is all yours!
(The writer is Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong.)