Happiness is something everyone wants to have. You may be successful and have a lot of money, but without happiness it will be meaningless.

That’s why I’m excited with this month’s theme of Happiness. We will discuss this topic all month long and I’m sure we will learn a lot. But, before we move further, it’s a good idea to get deeper understanding of the word happiness itself. Understanding what happiness is will give us good ground upon which to build our discussions.

Let me start with an official definition. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, here is the definition of happiness:

  • a state of well-being and contentment
  • a pleasurable or satisfying experience

This definition is a good starting point and we can dig deeper from it. The best way to do that is to consult some of the greatest minds in history. So I researched what these people say about happiness and found 10 essential definitions. Each of them has deep meaning. Take your time to absorb it.

Here they are:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.
Ayn Rand

Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think.
Wayne Dyer

Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.
William H. Sheldon

Happiness is not a reward – it is a consequence.
Robert Ingersoll

Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.
George Sheehan

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

Happiness is not something you experience, it’s something you remember.
Oscar Levant

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.
Margaret Lee Runbeck

Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.
Denis Waitley

All in all, I would say that happiness is a decision. Your happiness is your decision to make. All the quotes above require actions on our part and actions require decisions.

So what do you think?

What is happiness?

This article is part of July 2008 theme: Happiness

Categories: Attitude

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

127 Responses so far.

  1. […] Head on over to Life Optimizer and read What is Happiness? 10 Definitions of Happiness. […]

  2. […] your definition of happiness? Do you measure it in terms of an experience from the past or something you’ll obtain in the […]

  3. Hi everyone!

    An interesting subject!

    “Happiness is the emotional reaction to the performing of actions that brings you closer to what or where you want to be.”
    Commander Johnson

    • Jonathan says:

      Great thread I have heard from someone a long time ago that happiness is divided in 3. Health, Wealth and love, once you get those 3 perfect than you have accomplish happiness.

      But reading this I have to say that “Happiness is the emotional reaction to the performing of actions that brings you closer to what or where you want to be.”

      is just right…

    • rama prasad says:

      Please define “emotional reaction”.

  4. Ollie says:

    For me happiness is where I reach a state where I could say ” Thank I’m a live”


  5. J.D.W says:

    Wow the question seems so easy when first asked but after thinking on it , seems really deep . I know saddness I know loss I know grief and I know that I used to be happy I just don’t know how to get happy again !!! I guess the formula is different for each person but I know it must include God , a positive outlook , staying connected to those u love , and making an effort in that direction

    • trista says:

      When you say you use to be happy and you are not now but would like to be it contradicts the meaning of happiness. Unhappiness is the result of not liking the present situation. To be happy is to flow with life accepting what is. Most people say “I use to be happy” because when all of us where young our perception of reality was whimsicle, adventurous and free of our ego. It’s important to know that the decision to be happy can result in happiness at any moment you choose to be happy. The greatest form of happiness that I have found comes from being thankful for whatever you have in the present moment. Start with the little things like a roof over your head and a meal. Many do not have these things. Yet majority of Americans take this for granted. When we become too consumed with things we would rather have we are neglecting to appriciate what we do have and therefore will always live in a “wanting” state of mind. The other thing to remember is that we create our emotions. When you love yourself and love others you feel love. When others “love” you…… you are not experiencing love. You are experiencing yourself accepting the thought that others love you. Then you agree with them saying you are loved so you love yourself. But to love yourself without others approval is far greater than anything!

      • Vivian Oberon says:

        “When others “love” you…… you are not experiencing love. You are experiencing yourself accepting the thought that others love you. Then you agree with them saying you are loved so you love yourself. But to love yourself without others approval is far greater than anything!”

        That is one of the best things on this whole page including the article.

    • elahe says:

      your definision about happiness was really atractive,i used your passage for my english class object(happiness)
      thanks a lot
      elahe from Iran

    • fatemeh says:

      i agree with u

    • p singh says:

      sorry,try it.materialistic things may give temporary happiness, but at the end of the day u,ll realise that it was not worth it.happiness is a unique thing which is different for each human being.infact it is very difficult to define happiness

    • manisha says:

      yeah 2 a certain xtent as it satisfies all our materialistic demands……. but not the true satisfying happiness which would melt our heart and make us feel soooooooo special.

    • Pedro says:

      Certainly not. However it can set u a little bit more free, in this (our) society. If the lack of it inflict you too many obligations it can make u unhappy. If u have to be free to be happy then u have at least have some money to buy time for yourself.

  6. andrew says:

    “Happiness only real when shared.”

  7. shaista says:

    Nice subject. i just knew about happiness right after my marriage because i am not happy with my marriage. i have everything… money, good husband but not happy just because i don’t have any love feelings for my husband and that an arranged marriage. i tried alot to be happy but my heart says i am yet seeking someone else and my husband don’t attract me as a life partner is in my mind. God please help me to find my true happiness!

    • kristy says:

      I feel sorry for you i could not imagine being in an arranged marriage….but look deep in his heart and think how he would feel if he knew how you truly felt, put yourself in his shoes and tyr to love him and maybe you are meant for each other and just dont know it yet…

      • Maddy says:

        Well Said, Kristy! Every situation has a solution!! :)

      • Amanda says:

        i agree to an extent. Every situation does have a solution but this isnt just a common, ordinary situation. It involves feelings. She married against her own will. If she had chosen to, it would have been different. She cannot make her husband happy until she is happy herself. She cannot put herself in his shoes because she did not choose to be in this situation to begin with. Honestly is the best policy. I feel like he SHOULD know as her husband, and what else could he expect, IT WAS ARRANGED! I have seen couples who have been in arranged marriages and eventually fell in love with one another and that’s truly beautiful. I feel like it makes them even more connected. But asking her to put herself in his shoes? How about he put himself in her shoes for a change?

    • p singh says:

      shaista,i know that only the bearer knows where the shoe pinches.think,what would happen if the one u r always missing could have turned out to be the worst.concentrate on good qualities of your betterhalf.afterall each coin has two sides.time will come you,ll start liking him n that,ll change your life.gud luck

    • Vivian Oberon says:

      I hope he’s at least a good man and treats you with kindness Shaista. You have every right to your feelings and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I will say though, that marriages made through what people thought was love don’t last half the time either. A lot of them end in misery, so there’s no guarantee either way. A lot of people marry for what they think is love, when it’s really just attraction and end up with someone who treats them badly or who doesn’t provide for them. I hope that you can find happiness with this man or if you can’t, that you are able to leave.

  8. charity says:

    i didn’t know what hapiness really is. i always pretended as if i’m happy when i knew that deep inside me, things were not well. i’ve realised, after all, that life is lived, not acted. what i want now is tips on how to get real happiness.

    • Matt says:

      True happiness is found by being connected to our Creator, being content no matter what situation arises, and by having compassion on those less fortunate than we are.

    • Monique says:

      I am your polar opposite. I realize now, that I spent my life in a rush to nowhere. I keep getting new mountains to climb and never rested. I married a man that I was never naturally attracted to. I thought that being friends and Christians would fill in the gaps, but it didn’t. Now, I have a young son and feel stuck, instead of blessed. The best definition for happiness that I heard on TV was

      “-happiness is not having what you want, but learning to want what you have.”

      • Tim says:

        Go to the mountain and be on the mountain? Sometimes we get so caught up in climbing the mountain, that when we get to the top we start looking on how to get back down. I used to do the same thing…now I just want to sit on top and enjoy the view. Happiness doesn’t come from achievements. It comes from enjoying want you got. Thank God for that every day and he will bless you with happiness beyond your understanding.

  9. Ryan says:

    Happiness is when you accept all for what it is with a smile on your face. Everyone has their own happiness it is all felt in a different way. You make out happiness what you believe it is. :)

  10. Robert says:

    Happiness is a state of mind. From every defination I have read it in fact is purchaseable. This leads me to believe that the person that claimed you cant buy happiness is a wrong.


    A person walks up and gives you $50,000.00. You are in fact happy or will in fact be able to purchase any of the above definitions of happiness there for you can in fact purchase happiness.

    Your happiness as well as your saddness are both purchaseable.

    • p singh says:

      sorry friend,i don,t agree with your definition that happiness can be purchased.tell me what next,when you purchased what you wanted with $50,000/.after all no one is going to give you that kind of allimoney.i feel if you are able to control your desires(as they are the root cause of all miseries),you may feel contented n that may be beginning of your happiness.i,ve seen n no of people with tons of money but still very unhappy.what will you say on that?

      • Treavon-M-H says:

        Emma that was a beautiful post about happiness and because of you i got an A+ on my project about the ture meaning of happiness and also i am starting a book about what happiness is all about so thank you very much!

      • LONEWOLF DELTA 226 says:

        You are right my friend. You can have all of the wealth & material items in the world that your heart desires, But after a while it get’s old & your heart wants more. Like true friendship, real love unconditional , And the joy life brings into your heart by helping others. I HAVE HAD ALOT OF NICE THINGS IN LIFE, But I lose interest in these items that I thought I couldn’t live without. But man when I help others by giving them money, kind words, compliments, or just a lending hand on a project free of charge. THE JOY IN MY HEART IN REAL & I FEEL SO GOOD INSIDE FOR MAKING SOMEONE ELSE DAY. Even if your life is sad & blue, Dose not mean you can’t help others be happy. MY JOY MAY BE BIGGER TO OBTAIN, BUT THERE JOY MIGHT JUST CONSIST OF BEING ACKNOWLEDGE & A warm Kind Smile. So even though I can count the days of happiness I’ve had in this world, on my fingers. I still show love to everyone I feel deserves it. P.S. WORK HARD & LOVE HARD, AND MOST OF ALL LIVE WITH HONOR & INTEGRITY. PS US SOLDIER OUT!!! A.K.A. LONEWOLF NELSON!!!!!!

  11. bery mohamed says:

    u can make your happiness if u realy believed it

    • Robert says:

      I say you are not reading what I wrote correctly. I am not saying you can purchase life long happiness. I am saying the definition of happiness can be purchased. That 50,000 will make you very happy for a bit. Who knows maybe only 1 day. But if you were happy only for 1 minute then money in fact purchased that minute of happiness.

      Happyness can be purchased if only for a single minute of time. People do it all the time and dont realize it. Tell me when you have some ice cream or a great meal are you not happy/content for a bit? If so you in fact just purchased some happiness.

      • Larry says:

        Thanks for the great post!

        Robert, your comment actually links nicely to Mahatma Gandhi’s happiness quote in this article: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

        When you think about ice cream, and say you’d like some ice-cream, purchasing it actually makes you happy… This correlates with Gandhi’s definition.

        So, at least moments of happiness can be purchased. Unfortunately all ingredients of happiness – like challenges and sense of a higher purpose – cannot. So, again referring to Gandhi’s definition, perhaps happiness needs to be achieved either by our actions (to change the current situation), or by mentally accepting it (to settle for what already is).

        • Aruna says:

          Well said Larry…liked the conclusion

        • Vivian Oberon says:

          I don’t think I would equate happiness with accepting a miserable situation, say, chronic illness. I would say you could get meaning from doing this, but not happiness.

        • mavz says:

          I would agree with what robert was saying.. Since there is no such thing as PERMANENT in life, a lifetime happiness is elusive to find..at least in the real world. So, anything that could make you happy is very important and accepted. If buying a new car makes you happy,then money buys that 1 day of happiness!

  12. Emma says:

    I love these quotes, especially the one by William H Sheldon and Margaret Lee Runbeck.

    I don’t think happiness is the same thing for any two people, we are all different, so what makes one person happy may not make another happy. Of course there are some common themes that make us all content – job, family etc. But again, there are people who don’t have a family and are perfectly happy.

    Ultimately, I think happiness is literally looking in the mirror and not pointing out flaws, but accepting what looks back at you. It’s waking up in the morning and thinking what have I got to do today, rather than I can’t be bothered, it’s all about accepting ourselves for who we are.

    Great post by the way.

  13. Ayan says:

    yeah you are right
    i agree with you

  14. Lucio Martins Salsinha says:

    Happiness comes from the way you think about yourself. If you want to be happy, you should choose what you prefer to have rather than following encouragement of others. Furtheremore, the happiness is something which is in our mind and it depends on how much you understand about your life, situation and condition. If you truly understand the meaning of life, the happiness will be with you for ever and ever. Thank you so much…

    • Eric says:

      “Happiness comes from the way you think about yourself. If you want to be happy, you should choose what you prefer to have rather than following encouragement of others.”

      I know that i like to nag just as you probalby do, but you my kind ser have an argument issue there.

    • hadis says:

      your definition is very good

  15. Yon gardner says:

    Living in the present moment, or the Now we can notice thoughts coming and going, in this we can chose to do that what best supports our idea of happiness. Happiness is unique to each of us in definition. We are here to have full range of a human experience by feeling thoughts; Happiness can be a goal, each emotion serves as contrast to all emotions there by can we choose that which we prefer. Have Fun Y.

  16. Eric says:

    actually happiness is a warm gun…

  17. Welington says:

    Happiness is learning to enjoy what you already have, without giving up on your dreams.

  18. Francis Ennin says:

    Happiness is not what you have, its what you think

  19. Eric says:

    I kinda realised something very recently for two times. In the 1st one i got carried away by another thought. This time i gave it some thinking and came to this realisation again:”I dont want to be happy”. And that’s when it struck me. Thanks 9gag for that very small post about happyness which made me think about happyness again.
    If you searched on google “what if i dont want to be happy”, you would see just how less there are people with this realisation. And just how many there are with a blog or in any other possible way “telling you what to do”
    I came to this when i started to make a choice between freedom and happyness. And just now, writing, i realised that this comparison is like dividing with a zero.

  20. Colleen says:

    I was googling “happiness” trying to find a definition for a speech I’m writing and deeply appreciated the quotes and everyones comments. I couldn’t find one that completely resonated with me so I created my own:

    Happiness is living in the energy of an open heart and freely sharing its effervescence with all. ~Colleen Laukka

    In my speech I teach the 3 Keys to Mastering the Art of Happiness which are:
    1. Choose it!
    2. Practice it!
    3. Share it!

    Sending you each a burst of joy and a reminder that true happiness is found in the joy of the rainbow, not in the search for the pot of gold!

    Rich Blessing!

  21. Andreea says:

    I strongly believe that happiness=love..It is not how you think about a situation,it is about how you feel about a certain situation..If you don’t find that little piece that completes you,you can’t be happy..You must feel that you belong to that place,situation,person…
    I think we all have a small love for ourselves,but being loved and sharing so many things with our partner,brings such a wonderful happiness in our life..

  22. mansour alyami says:

    Happiness ofcourse is our decision, but a hard one to take. I think we should refere to optimism as a key to happiness.

  23. Lj. says:

    To me personaly,happiness is de state of being content wth wht you hv…yet being positive about your future

  24. AJ says:

    Happiness of course is our decision, but a hard one to take. I think we should refere to optimism as a key to happiness.

  25. neil cosentino says:

    It is simple if you believe that God put us here to be happy [I believe this].

    And if you are not happy then something is wrong.

    He put us here to be happy and told us what we must do to be happy and what we must not do.

    Then to be happy is to the “play the game using his rules”
    It can not be any other way.

  26. Suzanne says:

    I was very taken with your article and all the responses you received. I want t o thank you for helping me on my journey to understanding myself and for the guidelines fordiscovering happiness in my daily life.
    Thank you Donald


  27. Rama Prasad says:

    These synonyms, quotes and views are not giving a definition of happiness. Before we talk about the cause and process of happiness, we need to define it. So much money and Tommie is wasted on beating around the bush. And the biggest waste is happiness conference! Here is the definition.

    Take an event – food, money, love, experience, dream, meeting, news, receiving, giving etc are all events.

    If it makes you happy, it must be matching one of your beliefs. It’s true in every case.

    I believe in support. I see support. I’m happy. I believe in success. I experience success. I’m happy.

    Happiness is defined as experience or expression when a belief meets a matching event.

  28. Maya says:

    Beautiful article! I really enjoyed reading the many different definitions of happiness.

    I’d like to share with you how psychologists define happiness: It boils down to the ratio of positive to negative moments. So the more often you experience positive emotions, the happier you are.

    To happiness!

  29. cardibala says:

    true Happiness is not searching for its meaning or means of attaining it….

  30. yianni kapsalis says:

    Happiness is what you see and do, it lives inside you,
    You can accept it or deny it, where there is sadness there is happiness and comfort,
    You may live in total happiness and bliss, when you feel happiness you feel the worlds happiness inside of you…

  31. W. Ying says:

    Happiness has to be:
    “The short-time feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping one’s own DNA alive.”

    Otherwise, there is no human in the world.

  32. nikhil says:

    happiness is something which u r getting from the work in u r intrested

    dont forrget to do something intresting crazy wrk in life :p
    because normal life is living every one .:p

  33. miguel bongcawel says:

    before i think when you smile and contented of what you have that is happiness.

  34. yasmine says:

    thanks i”ll use ur report in my homework :3

  35. nayab says:

    As i think satisaction is happiness and peace is happiness when we feacefull and agree of your life that,s called happiness…

  36. Believer says:

    Happiness is all about satisfaction for what you have and where you are not how much you have….

  37. ccho0627 says:

    Happiness is existing when shared.

  38. jayson ace cruz says:

    happiness is not having a perfect life, but rather to recognize that life is worth living despite all challenges and losses :)

  39. Abdelmomen Elwaney says:

    Throughout my life, I am looking for what is the real happiness

    I found that no such thing as happiness we are in a time of hypocrisy in treason time

    Good equal misery

    Evil is equal comfort

  40. Arno says:

    Happiness for me, is a joy to live the life that you have with everything that you have around you