How Do You Measure Your Happiness?

By DeMornay Harper
Blog Content Contributor

Happiness is one of the pinnacles of our society. The pursuit of this emotion is literally listed as an unalienable right our Declaration of Independence. It is not just assumed that everyone should have a chance at happiness, but it is also assumed that everyone should be striving for it. This almost desperate race for joy is one of the most defining characteristics of humanity. The happiness business is a lucrative one, especially when you factor in the revenue of the pharmaceuticals that are supposed to aid with depression. Then you add in the plethora of merchandise, self-help books, retreats, seminars (all aiming to aid you in your journey to bliss) and you have a potential for great earnings.

I am actually reading a book that could definitely fit right into the category that I mentioned above. It is titled “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner. The blurb on the front cover states that it is “one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world”. I am only about eighty pages into the text but it is interesting so far. An incredibly experienced journalist decides to travel the world and figure out what makes people happy in different countries… sounds like something made for self-help suckers like me.

This caused me to stop and think: how do I measure my happiness? Happiness seems like a narrow term. I am the type of person who experiences a wide range of emotions throughout the day. I could be ecstatic one second dancing around my kitchen without a care in the world and then I see or hear something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth and my entire vibe changes. My sensitivity to my surroundings is a trait that I have come to love. I do not feel ashamed of my vulnerability, but instead acknowledge that it is what gives me a complete human experience.

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“When I measured my happiness factoring in everything in my life and not just this one situation, the results where clear as day.” Photo courtesy of Kendall Cooper. 

My happiness lies in the good times and the bad times, for I would not be able to truly feel the good if I did not acknowledge the bad. Although I embrace all of my emotions as valid, it hit me one day this week that the negative that I was focusing on was doing nothing for me. I was sitting under a tree at Sewell Park, absolutely throwing myself a pity party, when it hit me. I am measuring my happiness in this moment based on one small fraction of my life. I was sitting in my feelings for no good reason at all. I am a big believer that the path to true healing is letting yourself feel a situation all the way through, but trust me in this case, I had already done so. I could choose to focus on this one negative aspect of my life or I could focus on everything else. Everything else, which is so overwhelmingly positive, it is ridiculous. I have a job that I love, friends that I have created deep, lasting bonds with, and a family that I actually enjoy spending time with. Not a lot of people can say that! Not to mention, a roof over my head, a working car to drive, and no worries about where my next meal is coming from. When I measured my happiness factoring in everything in my life and not just this one situation, the results where clear as day.

My thoughts are to let yourself feel and live. Do not be ashamed of being emotional or reacting to the people who you care about. Social media has made it cool to “not catch feels” or to be the one that cares less… care the most and catch all the feels. Even if you get hurt at least you felt something! Going through heartbreak leaves you with so much potential for growth and capacity for self-love. What I want to truly stress is, you should remember to put it in perspective. Look at what you are worrying about compared to all of the good things that you have. Focus on the love and joy in your life and measure your happiness that way. When you feel it, you spread it so focus on the love and spread it to all that surrounds you.

Featured image by DeMornay Harper. 

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