IBQ Writing Prompt: What is happiness?


A fleeting weight, a flying dream, time enjoyed and free. Worry forgot, fine company.

This week’s Introverts Blog Quietly prompt from 61 Musings is happiness.

What is happiness? According to my dictionary it is the feeling of being happy. That’s really not helpful! The list of synonyms provided below the definition is slightly more illuminating.

contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness, gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light-heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, felicity; exuberance, exhilaration, elation, ecstasy, delirium, jubilation, rapture, bliss, blissfulness, euphoria, beatitude, transports of delight; heaven, paradise, seventh heaven, cloud nine
humorous delectation
rare jouissance

I think the difficultly with defining happiness arises from the feeling’s essentially fleeting nature. We’re happy for the moment, that short space when everything is right with the world. One small change can tip the balance away from the moment of right-ness and happiness slides away, like a melting ice cream on a see-saw.

Of all the synonyms for ‘happiness’ only contentment suggests the possibility of a long term feeling. I feel that contentment is not really a synonym I would use for happiness; I were feeling content I would say so, rather than saying I was happy because the one feels different from the other. Contentment for me is a ‘background’ emotion, it feels grey (not the smothering ‘void grey’ that characterises depression though, a ‘living grey’ that cushions and comforts, like a soft blanket on a cold night), whereas ‘happiness’ is a blazing streak of gold and silver across my heart, a lightness in my belly, a flying release of soul.

Happiness is personal and subjective; we all define happiness in the context of our lives and natures.

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