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Are you happy?

Shanel Hughes
Shanel Hughes

If you haven’t heard the “Happy” song by Pharrell Williams by now, you must be living under a rock. The song has been in just about every store, commercial and Vine video for the past couple of weeks. With its upbeat music and feel good message, it’s no wonder it has become so popular. It literally makes you feel happy, sing happy and dance happy. But, what does it really mean to be happy? In a world full of consumerism, we might feel that this is the key, but is it? After the three or four minutes of the “Happy” song goes off and we return to our lives, are we really happy? Maybe, or maybe not.

If you ask many people what they want to be to in their lives, you should not be surprised when you hear the word “happy.” Mostly everybody wants to be happy and do things they think will make them happier each day. But, what do we really know as a nation about happiness? We have never really been taught about it. How do we achieve happiness and keep it? It is even an attainable goal? After being exposed to books like “Stumbling On Happiness” and movies like “The Happy Movie,” my views on happiness and what makes an individual happy have changed.

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According to “The Happy Movie,” happiness is not something that can be bought. The movie explains that even though we have been taught, as a country, that material things bring us happiness, this is not true. Yup. This means that while that new cell phone or shirt might make you happy in the short term, it is only for the short term. The movie goes on to tell the story of different people, their experiences with happiness and how to become happier. According the science of happiness used in the movie, the key to happiness is physical activity, intentional activities and changing up your routine. Physical activity reduces stress and is good for your health. The movie describes intentional activities as things you like to do that make you happy. If crocheting makes you happy, make time for it. If The Walking Dead makes you happy, make time for it. These are things we intentionally do to add to our happiness. According to “The Happy Movie,” we cannot become too complacent in our routines. It’s good to switch things up every now and again, so talk to someone new or take a new path to class. You might see, learn or hear something new.

The author in “Stumbling On Happiness” also reiterates some of the themes mentioned in “The Happy Movie,” but he also presents tips on how to add to our happiness. According to the author, another way to be happy is to ask instead of fantasizing. As humans, we often fantasize about how happy we would be if we were in a certain position. The author claims that while this is fun, it is not beneficial because our minds leave out important pieces in our fantasies. Instead, he suggests that we ask someone who is currently in the position we would like to have about their experiences and happiness in this position. If you want to know if you would be happy as a teacher, you should ask a teacher. Even though we feel that this will not be helpful because we are different from everyone else, the author claims this is not true, and we are much more similar than we think.

The idea of happiness is a broad one. Mostly everyone wants to achieve it, but I think that we have been told wrongly how to do so. Material things and possessions might make us happy in the moment, but in the long term, they will just end up under our beds like the rest of the junk we buy.

Happiness is not easy and is not something that happens overnight. You have to work on being happy. And while I write this article in hopes that everyone can be happy, I realize that it may be much easier for some than others. So as we go through each day, I encourage you to not only work on your happiness, but try to contribute to someone else’s. Take them to Zumba class with you, participate in their favorite activities or get them out of their daily routine for once. I believe that emotions are contagious, so while doing these things, don’t be surprised when you find a smile on your own face as well.

IN BRIEF:

  • The things we have been taught (or not taught) about happiness have been proven to be wrong.

  • There are scientific studies about happiness that might help keep more smiles on your face.

  • Spread happiness and watch the effects it will have on you.
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