What does true happiness mean? – 8 beliefs of strangers

True happiness, what does that mean? The definition is obviously very subjective. If you alter your definition, you might change the way you experience it. If you stick to a simple idea like feeling good, could you be limiting true happiness? Is true happiness already omnipresent, no matter what? Unfortunately, few people consider themselves to be truly happy. Would this be any different if we completely debunked the meaning of it?

When I ask somebody about the meaning of happiness, they come up with ideas about what is most important to them. To most of us, being happy means prioritising important matters. If you cannot connect with important stuff, you must be unhappy in the eyes of others. Let’s find out about that.

Happiness belief 1: Nobody can make you happy


She shared with me her heartbreaking story. I decided to only record a small part of it, since she became too emotional for my interview. #lifelessons #lifetips #lifeadvice

♬ These Memories – Hollow Coves

I asked an older lady, who lost her son two years ago, about the meaning of happiness. She told me that nobody could help you to become happy. To her, you’re responsible for your own happiness. She clearly learned this lesson the hard way.

It might be true. How could anyone make you happy? People can maybe make you feel happy for a moment, but can you truly be happy by depending on others? Can we agree that relying on somebody else could be potentially dangerous? Do you want to risk staying fundamentally independent of somebody’s presence or approach?

Could a therapist or personal coach be helpful and harmful at the same time? Could the typical relationship between a therapist (problem-solver) and client (solution-seeker) be risky? Can it be the case that a therapist generally feeds into the story of having an individual problem? Is acknowledging this and diving into it actually a good thing? Or can this give you the feeling that you first have to solve your personal issues, whereas it might be a matter of viewing it as a collective problem instead. A problem that coincidentally found expression through you? Would this approach be more suitable or be an abstract distraction?

Happiness belief 2: You’ve got to excel your shell

If you keep doing what you’re doing, would you automatically become unhappy? Is it necessary to find yourself in new situations regularly? Or would that only apply to people from a young age? It wouldn’t hurt if you’re seeking challenges rather than avoiding them, right? Could this contribute to the experience of happiness? Perhaps it depends on how you define happiness. If happiness means aliveness to you, it probably does contribute to it. How could one feel truly alive if one tries to control every aspect of their life?

However, the moment this belief becomes a condition rather than a reminder, it instantly becomes a limitation. Why is that? Maybe because you try to control your life once again, this time guided by an empowering belief. You don’t have to do anything to be happy, right? What does this entail? Can you be truly happy if you do nothing? What does doing nothing mean? Could this become another attempt to attach an image to happiness?

Happiness belief 3: Unhappy? Time to change your life


To her, it’s about calming your heart and feeling sure about love. #happiness #happylife #love #lovelife

♬ Here Comes the Sun – Relaxing Instrumental Music

This advice might be too simple for people to swallow. But usually when something seems overly simple, it may also hold some truth in it. When we’re looking at being unhappy, who are we looking at? A single human being? That would be false since there are plenty of unhappy people all over the world. When you’re unhappy, you just represent one out of the many. In fact, you represent all human beings. Everybody has the potential to feel unhappy, right? If you start viewing unhappiness as a collective state, would that affect your personal state? You may feel less likely to hold onto your depressive mood, because essentially it’s not ‘your’ mood.

If you’ve got to keep changing things till you feel happy (again), where does it end? I know some people who consider themselves as depressed. Some of them changed a lot, but they keep feeling unhappy. If you think you have to change, you tell yourself the story that without change, you’ll inherently be unhappy. But is that true? Shouldn’t this be comprehensively examined? Not to change one’s mood, but for a deep understanding that by itself changes the way one perceives happiness?

Happiness belief 4: Just find a little reason to live for

One of the people I interviewed (she didn’t want to be recorded), mentioned you should only find one meaningful thing. That could already be enough to stay alive and appreciate life. She also shared with me a theory of a philosopher: happiness is about finding something that prevents you from committing suicide. It might be a dark description, but if it helps it helps.

The Japanese Ikigai theory is all about connecting with something that is meaningful to you. This could be anything, like your children, a bit of sunshine, reading, or drawing. However, who decided to pick up those activities? Who have found those meaningful occupations any way? All we’re trying to do here is to control life’s situation. Can you ever control this?

If the excessive need for control feels forced, you might want to choose a different approach. An approach that actually isn’t an approach at all. What would that be? Just being and surrendering wouldn’t work, right? As long as you keep connecting stories to this (like having to trust the process), that’s very true. But can you surrender to life without any story? Or is it about seeing those stories as they are while staying untouched?

Happiness belief 5: Be happy through relationships


His meaning of true happiness. He had much more to say about it, but unfortunately the wind disturbed the audio. #happiness #happylife #love #together

♬ Tattoo – piano version – The Piano Cover Guy

Do you know many people in unhealthy relationships with others? If yes, why is that? Why would one directly measure their happiness to the quality of their relationships? Is that dangerous because you cannot control it? What can you control? As long as you cannot control something fully, it proves you cannot control it at all. That’s kind of a scientific approach: it 100% happens or it doesn’t, like the laws of physics. If you for example move your hand to prove you’re the one in control, did you control the thought to move your hand instead of moving your leg?

Is it valid to make your happiness depend on relationships since you possibly cannot control anything? It might not be a matter to verify its validity. Is a relationship with someone versus yourself fundamentally different from each other? It’s both a relationship with a human being. Of course, the mind introduces ‘myself’ and ‘the other person’. But can we ignore this duality for a moment? If we do that, what remains? True happiness? How could that be the case? What does real happiness have to do with going beyond dualities? Isn’t it yet another duality: being happy versus unhappy? Or is this just another duality clouding the obvious truth of happiness?

Happiness belief 6: You can never be 100% happy


He believes you can never be 100% happy in life. #happiness #happylife #goalsetting #journeyoflife

♬ Paris – 3Hzwave

If your happiness has roots in all of the life areas you should take into account, you can indeed never be happy. Putting your focus on one life area usually takes away your focus on other life areas. Can we therefore focus on life instead of life areas? Can you be fully happy about life while being playfully busy with your life areas?

The man I interviewed sees happiness as the feeling when you achieve your goals. To him, rather than focusing on the journey, finding great satisfaction lies in the accomplishment. For him, it’s about setting goals and reaching them. If this way of living satisfies you, why not fully embrace this belief? By living hesitantly, you may never discover if a certain approach truly satisfies you.

Happiness belief 7: To be happy is to feel good


He definitely came up with an answer I didn’t expect from asking a stranger 😅 #stressrelief #lifebalance #contemplatelife #happiness #happylife

♬ Heartbeats – Remastered 2023 – José González

I don’t feel inclined to convince anybody about the essential difference between true happiness and good feelings (or the absence of stress). If one attaches good feelings to being happy, it becomes a temporary state rather than a permanent place. As long as it remains an experience or a state, true happiness is not attained. It’s obscured by the belief of what it could be. Can we agree that it couldn’t be anything because it already exists?

Happiness belief 8. It’s about love, kindness, and peace

Is happiness attached to an individual or innate? Does it belong to you or just exist on itself? Can you tap into it or must you strive for it? You may want to explore if it’s achievable or inherent. By attaching love, kindness or peace to happiness, could we allow true happiness to prevail? Or does one first need to completely let go of any association with happiness? Is one capable of doing that?

Would you like to stay up-to-date for the new little field research study? Follow me on TikTok by clicking here.

Every Sunday, I’m publishing a new article (click here go to the article overview) in which I share a little analysis on the short interviews I did.