Our country just celebrated another 4th of July! What a happy day!—Independence Day from Great Britain. It was 237 years ago that our Declaration of Independence was completed and signed by our forefathers and we celebrated our independence!! We have much to celebrate with our independence and freedoms, and much with which to be happy.
Happiness… I wonder if many people really sit back and consider what happiness really means… I mean… not just what it means to you, but perhaps to the world at large… What it meant, for instance, for our founding fathers and for Thomas Jefferson, when he was coining the Declaration of Independence.
According to the article “Free to be Happy” by Jon Meacham, Thomas Jefferson was contemplating not only immediate happiness, but happiness as a whole for the entire country of America. When he wrote “…among these [rights]…are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” he was not meaning simply private personal happiness, but the kind of happiness that can be measured…sort of …by what we can have, such as property, homes, etc…not only a feeling… Happiness in the new America was said to have put the governed, as opposed to the governors at the center of things. Allowing the people, not the leaders of the government, to choose and enjoy the freedoms of individual excellence, if you will…Happiness… Can happiness be found in property and prosperity and liberty? Jefferson felt yes, and his good friend and neighbor James Madison just felt that it was in finding a balance and proportion of those things. We, as Americans are pretty good at finding that, too. We live our lives “..seeking a happiness that will warm our days and shape not only our own internal worlds, but the world around us…”
In the article I read, it stated that Aristotle considered happiness the end of an action—pretty much the whole point to life. He felt that man, being social, found meaning of life and happiness in relation to others. I think that is true. We do pretty much count on others to be there in order to be happy…Not that we can’t be happy on our own…just that with others, we get a sense of belonging, that makes us feel the end result—happiness.
When does “happiness” start for us? It starts as early as the first days of our lives as tiny babies. I read that babies start to smile at about 6 weeks of age….(although my experience was they do it sooner than that… and I don’t mean because of gastric issues!) As we grow and grow, we evolve from the baby who shows happiness in the appearance of someone they know and are comfortable with, who makes them feel safe, to teenagers, and young adults, where we engage in things such as social media and cell phones to communicate in our world and to enjoy our lives and friends. The things that make individual people “happy” are so varied. People’s lifestyles, relationships, jobs, having friends, and children… all help to create what makes us happy.
Some things come along in life that kind of put a damper on our happiness, but we learn to cope with them… some people take medication to help them stabilize their moods, so that they can enjoy each day and find happiness… “Happy Pills” if you will! I’m sure we’ve all either said, or heard someone say, whether seriously, or jokingly, “Need to go take my happy pills!”
Romance, family pets, work, our children, and even getting older can make us happy. Happiness can be found in so many realms of our lives. We all know that if we have a satisfying and enjoyable job, coworkers who we enjoy being with, that we are happy at work. If you are in love or married to that one special person, that “soul mate”, if you will—we are happy. Our kids make us happy, in the milestones they attain, in the awesome things that make them uniquely who they are…in the smile on their faces as they experience new things.
For me, as I’m sure as with so many others, I find so much happiness in my friends. I have discovered, and even more so as I age, that friends are a huge cornerstone to my happiness. Knowing that the people I consider friends are trustworthy, genuine, caring people, makes me so happy. Knowing that I don’t have to see my friends, or talk to them on a daily basis, but that I can depend on them, makes me happy. I have also discovered as I have gotten older, the true pleasure in being able to do things for others—even those I don’t know—and knowing that in some small way, I was able to make a difference in their life, and possibly, even for a moment bring a smile to their face, and a song to their heart. So wow, if you really sit back and think about it…happiness is so many things. Happiness actually is an end result…of so many things in life!
And I’d just like to take a second to mention the sometimes taken for granted; individuals, who, on an everyday basis tend to bring a smile of happiness to our faces and happy joy to our hearts… That sweet cat, or dog, or perhaps you have a pet snake that all will sit there and listen to you at the end of the day, as you regale them with the happenings of your day. Those family pets, who make sure you don’t have to watch television alone, don’t have to fold laundry alone, and give you something extra to do that isn’t all about you…those little friends of ours who rely on us for all they have in this world, and yet, what they give back to us in happiness is so great. Not everyone has pets, nor is it necessary for everyone to have one. But for those who read this and have a special pet… you do know that special feeling of true, unabated happiness when you come home after a long day and see that silly fur ball, waiting by their food dish, or sitting at the door, or hanging around waiting…just for you to come see them and hang out. So I guess, I also find happiness in giving happiness…