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For ages, studies and research have been conducted in order to establish the definition of happiness. According to the Oxford Dictionary, happiness is defined as “the state of being happy” (“Happiness”), while happy is defined as “Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment” (“Happy”). It is only natural that people have an innate desire to be happy and to feel joy in one’s life. Happiness can, however, be subjective. It is often a perception that differs from person to person. Although some may disagree, the definition of happiness encompasses spirituality, personal relationships, and being purposeful.
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Happiness can be described as the state of mind of a person as a result of feeling love, emotions, joy, pleasure and personal satisfaction. People create moments, be it consciously or unconsciously, to provide meaning and purpose in their lives. And as individuals, each person directly contributes to his or her happiness. Happiness is powerful; it keeps a person focused and keeps them motivated to take the next step in life.
It can be said that spirituality is directly correlated with one’s happiness. Spirituality is not to be confused with religiosity, as spirituality far exceeds the confines of religious beliefs. According to Dr. Robert C. Cloninger, “Spirituality is defined as a search for — and a means of reaching — something beyond human existence, creating a sense of connectedness with the world and with the unifying source of all life — an expression of a profound need of people for coherent meaning, love and happiness in their lives” (740). One can gain a sense of spirituality outside the context of institutional religion. It is the moral compass a person has that guides them through life and helps them make decisions by weighing the consequences of their choices and of their actions. As individuals, a person decides what this means to them. The results of one’s spiritual well-being can directly impact someone’s life satisfaction, as well as helps him or her achieve a level of internal happiness. Nourishment of spirituality can be found in various ways like yoga, meditation, naturalism, and in self-reflection.
The question can then be asked; does spirituality actually make someone happy? Yes, one can achieve this same feeling of spirituality and “fullness”, without spending time in church, or deep reflection, or meditation. As described by Bryan Walsh, “Religion isn’t the only social tie that binds – you can join a volunteer group or a bowling league or the parent- teacher associations, and you’ll likely be better off than you would be alone” (Walsh). These above mentioned activities, gives one the sense of belonging and an avenue to look beyond one’s self and contribute to a cause. When someone puts good out into the world, they feel good, they feel happy, and content.
It can also be said that a person’s need for supportive, intimate connections enhance their quality of life and happiness. Relationships can largely impact one’s sense of well-being and their actions and mood can influence those they come in contact with. David G. Myers said, “When needs for close relationships are met, through friendships or marriage, people enjoy better physical and emotional quality of life” (374). Humans have a very primitive need for relationships. Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, central to a person’s experiences of fulfillment and happiness, is to make deep connections with other living beings.
Some may take the position that one’s personal relationships do not directly correlate to one’s happiness, or that someone does not have to be married or in a long-term relationship to be happy. According to the research of Dr. Robert A. Ward, “The never-married are also less happy than the married, and only slightly happier than the widowed and divorced” (861-869). But it is exactly that lack of satisfaction in relationships, which directly affect one’s happiness. Even those who identify as introverts still need people and relationships. Introverts still require meaningful conversations and companionships.
In addition, being purposeful is being able to reach the state of concentration and enjoyment. Finding the purpose behind every action and choice, and by doing so, reaching a level of achievement or success that makes one happy. Being purposeful in one’s life surpasses the products of one’s job, as well. It is imperative that people act with purpose in relationships and in life in general. Conversations and leisure actives need as much attention as someone’s professional ventures. According to Darrin M. McMahon, “A long-term journey, the pursuit of purposeful activity is almost always difficult, requiring planning, sacrifice, and dedication to an end deemed worthy of devotion in an of itself” (92). One must dedicate time and energy to every situation to achieve success and ultimately achieve happiness. And individuals are not defined solely on their successes in life, but rather, by the process, gumption, and ingenuity they possess.
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But one may ask, does happiness and meaning tie together? For most people, the deepest satisfactions in one’s life are associated with purposeful, meaningful activities and relationships. Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie, however, describe the following, “Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher level of worry, stress and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness”(Marsh and Suttie). But this statement cannot be used as a blanket to cover every situation. If one is not emotionally connected to a situation or person, but completes a task successfully and it doesn’t carry that emotional tie, then it would not necessarily contribute to one’s happiness. Purposefulness and happiness are deeply interconnected but it does not mean they are one in the same.
It is a person’s ability to be purposeful in their actions that guide one through life. And although being purposeful and happiness are not one in the same, it can be said that to achieve happiness, one must have purpose and meaning in their life and in their decisions. It is also a person’s need for personal relationships and connections to others that attribute to their happiness. Regardless if one identifies as an introvert or extrovert, people have a biological need to have that connection to others. Their social environments and relationships shape them, and people suffer greatly when their social bonds are threatened or severed. It is that connectivity to people and relationships that make us humans. Spirituality is individual and one needs to redirect focus from strictly religion and remember that spirituality reassures an order to life and helps people recognize their own value and appreciate the same value in others. Happiness and spirituality are intertwined.
Happiness and the source of one’s happiness are established by spirituality, personal relationships, and being purposeful. And although the formal definition is far more simple, happiness cannot be defined without first identifying the above. People who value spirituality take the time to reflect on activities and their choices, and discover the joys in life. Close relationships with friends and family provide love, meaning, and support and provide an increased feeling of self worth. It is a person’s biological need for connection that contributes to one’s happiness. Purpose and intentional living directly correlate to happiness. Every person has to the ability to create more meaning and gratification in life. Happiness is a choice and it is important for one to define it and to fully understand all that contribute to it in order to achieve it.
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