Happiness- what does that mean to you

happy catsIn my last post-Ol’ Blue Eyes-In Memoria-I fleetingly referred to the fact that, while working in working in a homeless drop in centre, I had the pleasure of meeting the happiest man who I have ever known.

This got me thinking about what it means to us all to be happy, and how all of us often categorize how others are feeling by reference to what we know, or by what we think we know. It is a curious thing to do really when you think of how active and inquisitive a brain we have, but I am sure that, consciously or subconsciously, we all do it.

So here is a challenge that I now drop into the blog-o-sphere. What if we were to put aside our preconceptions of others, and look at their lives and mode of living without any bias or knowledge that we may have built up so far.

If we were to do so how would we define happiness, and further examine what such a term means to ourselves?

According To Wikipedia

“Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people”

others have stated, anonymously

“Not what you have, but what you see; Not what you see, but what you choose; Not what seems fair, but what is true; Not what you dream, but what you do; Not what you take, but what you give; Not as you pray, but as you live. These are the things that mar or bless The sum of human happiness.” —Source Unknown

while Einstein states that…

A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins148867.html#gllF0dZiX9WdtGcr.99

and I will come to my own views on such a topic in a moment, but let me first introduce the gentleman that I have been referring to. No  real names, no packdrill; just as in the last post, but for convenience sake I will call him Bob.

Bob was a regular client at the drop in centre. Aged 40-45 he was intelligent, witty, philosophical, and  joy to be with, and he was always welcomed in the centre by both his peers and by us workers. Yet he had a “problem”; please note the inverted commas. He was an alcoholic, so much so that he could barely get drunk, no matter how much he consumed. For those working within the centre this was  a problem, as we knew what harm was being done to his body; yet at the same time we were puzzled, as, by all outward appearances, he was one of the happiest guys around. One day we decided to try and end our puzzlement, and we asked him why, when he was homeless and addicted to alcohol, was he so happy.

This is the summary of the reply he gave

“I know I’m wiping years of my life through alcohol, and I know that I’ve no home, as you would define it.”

He told us

But I’ve got good friends all around me who speak my language and who understand me, I know where to get good food, warmth, a shower, and good company, and, unlike  many around me, I have peace of mind. I have no family, I have no responsibilities to speak of, and as I walk around London, all I see is  a sea of grey stressed out faces. I am happy, they are miserable, so who is the wise man and who is the fool?”

He left us with nothing else to do but to shake his hand.

It was true that he was killing himself, it was true that, according to many of us, he was living a deprived existence, but as he so rightly said, he had peace of mind, so was he so foolish after all?

The other critical point is that he never went looking for happiness. If it came to him, fine, but, according to him on subsequent chats and occasions, he never actively pursued such a dream.

How many of us can say the same?

I personally agree with his philosophy about life. It is true that I have never been homeless, and thank God, alcohol and I have only a light acquaintance, but I have been through mental hell and back. I have tried to seek out happiness, and like so many before me, I found that such searching was in vain. For me, peace of mind, came accidentally, first high up in the hills  away from everybody, and now through a long and happy marriage, but in closing this post,I will pose the following questions.

What makes you happy, and, in your own mind was does such a term mean?

To quote a half cut football director who, stumbling on the pitch at half time, berated the somewhat subdued home fans

“Come on, let’s be havin’ you!”

any thoughts, any replies





Categories: Just a thought, What if...

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Well since you referred me to your blog and I read this one I just have to comment 😉 I think you have a bit of my point from my blog (http://gypsiemama.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/how-to-be-happy-the-truth-of-it/) wrapped in your blog. This man obviously was having HIS basic needs met, he had community, and he had his own version of his passion found. Not everyone can be happy with this life, by the obvious that not every homeless persona is as happy as this man, but for him it was just right for right now =)

    I think there is also a difference in true deep happiness, acceptance of a situation and dealing with rough situations the best they can be dealt with by you personally or in general, and just kind of floating through life. Like I said in the end of my blog, there are so many various of what makes people happy in the end, but still if one is starving to death, do not have a safe haven, are in danger, have no community, and so on then acquiring happiness is near impossible…note I say near impossible…because for some people they can have one or more of these barriers and still find their version of happy.

    I enjoyed your blog X) Thanx for reading mine too!

    ~Gypsie Zoria~


    • Very interesting comments, thank you.

      I have often thought that our modern way of life is a barrier to happiness, as so often we lose our peace of mind. Saying that who is say what constitutes happiness, maybe it is something that we should leave nature to sort out on it’s own. As regards “Bob”, all I can say is that he seemed happy to those who talked to him, and from what he told us, he felt the same. It is good when someone approaches something like happiness from a different direction, as though it can be unnerving, it can often open the mind.

      Certainly when we all left for our homes that night, we all felt that we had been given a valuable insight that would probably remain with us for years. I am lucky, as living on the Isle of Man I have left the rat race of London behind me. Once you step out of your work place the island gives you so many opportunities to step back from life’s everyday hustle and bustle, to think a little, and definitely to unwind. It can get a little busy around the TT festival though, as bikes on country roads going at 180+mph, and thousands of Island visitors (God bless them) are not so easy to ignore


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