By Nicholas Klacsanzky
Though happiness is said to be universal, it can be derived by countless things and actions. Each person has specific phenomena that trigger happiness in him or her. In this essay, I would like to endeavor to explain what makes me personally happy.
It seems that the greatest happiness I have gained is from seeing other people become happy. There is a saying that you do not know happiness until you have sacrificed for others. I believe this sentiment wholeheartedly. When you give something away to someone, or volunteer, or put your life in danger for others, you garner a sense of satisfaction that is difficult to duplicate. Time magazine has this to say about giving and its correction to happiness: “Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful” (Santi, Jenny). Though it is a bit of paradox, gaining the greatest happiness is usually when we are not concerned about our own wellbeing, but the wellbeing of others.
Another act that provides me with happiness is being creative. No matter whether I am singing, writing, or playing percussion, I derive happiness from it. Why? I believe the spontaneous nature of creating something beautiful, interesting, deep, and expressive builds a sense of contentment within an individual. Doing something creative is also therapeutic, and therapy usually gives way to happiness in the end. The website Greatist says that, “Some psychologists talk about “flow,” or getting so immersed in creative work that we don’t pay attention to anything else, like what time it is or how our body feels. These experts argue that getting into a state of flow can produce substantial happiness, the kind that lasts longer than the pleasure we get from eating a good cookie” (Lebowitz, Shana). What is also joy-giving is seeing people enjoy your creative efforts. I cannot remember how many times I have seen people dance while I am playing percussion and seeing the excitement on their faces as they let loose, and that reverberating back to me as happiness. I also cannot remember how many times I have seen people ponder my poetry and essays, and get a sense of happiness when it enriches their lives. If we create just for ourselves, we are only gaining half of the happiness available from creativity, if not less.
Deep friendship is also at the top of my list of what makes me happy. A great friendship can make you feel as if you have truly connected with another human being. This is essential, as often we go through life thinking we have only got acquainted with people, or have the illusion of friendship. When we find a person we can connect with on many levels, we feel like we have found a kindred spirit. According to Happify, “A Harvard Medical School study of 5,000 people over 20 years found that one person’s happiness spreads through their social group even up to three degrees of separation, and that the effect lasts as long as a year. On the flip side, sadness isn’t as contagious: while having a friend who’s happy improves your likelihood of being happy by 15 percent, having one who’s unhappy lowers your chances by just 7 percent” (Happify.com). Without finding a true friend, we can easily feel alone in this life. Loneliness is never a sign of happiness. Thus, to be happy, we need to garner deep friendship.
When I give to others, when I am creative, and when I experience deep friendship, I am the most happy. Without these three aspects of my life, I could not say that I am a happy person. Thank you reading this essay, and I hope it has given you some perspective as to how to be a happy person.
Santi, Jenny. “The Secret to Happiness Is Helping Others.” Time, Time, 4 Aug. 2017, time.com/4070299/secret-to-happiness/.
Lebowitz, Shana. “The Scientific Reasons Why Being Creative Can Make You Happier.” Greatist, Greatist, 6 June 2016, greatist.com/happiness/how-creativity-makes-us-happier.
“Why Friends Make Us Happier, Healthier People.” Happify.com, www.happify.com/hd/why-friends-make-us-happier/.