What Makes a Happy Life?

27 of 45 Moments of Wonder

We all want to live a happy life. But what does it take to actually have one? Does it take having many friends, lots of money and no suffering ever? While some may believe those things will bring us a happy life, I wonder if really what we need for a happy life is just a little.

Very little is needed for a happy life…a little sunshine in January (which is finally coming to an end), a little extra money in the bank after the bills are paid, a little optimism and a few people we can count on. Those are the keys for happiness to me.

But I also think we spend too much time longing for a happy life and being frustrated when we don’t feel happy. There is danger in sharing a message that all we need are these few things and we will always feel happy.

There was a time in my life when I was so afraid of feeling the so-called negative emotions that I shut down my ability to feel any emotion. I numbed myself to both the joy and the pain of living. The reality is that we are human. And to be fully human is to feel the spectrum of emotion that comes with human life. We will feel disappointed and let down. We will feel angry and ashamed. And yes, we will feel happiness and pride and elation and love. So I wonder if what we really need to ask is what do we need for a fully human life?

A little sunshine in January.
A little grey sky too.
A little money in the bank after the bills are paid.
A little worry about whether we will be able to afford the things.
A little optimism.
A little pessimism too.
A few friends we can count on.
A few we hope will come around.

When we balance the things that bring us joy with the things that bring us pain or stress, we are able to appreciate the good days and carry on through the rough ones. We can have a happy life while being open to experiencing the fullness of being human.

What are you willing to feel in order to have a fully human life? Is your goal to be happy all the time? Or are you, like me, curious about experiencing the fullness of your humanity? Sometimes those hard emotions are difficult to live with. On those tough days, I encourage you to find someone who can walk with you through those tough, human emotions. Nothing is permanent. Not the pain and not the joy. But if we remain curious, I think that is what is needed for a truly happy life. A truly human life.

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