What is happiness? There are countless books, articles, comics, and even TV shows on how to be happy or what makes people happy. The more I think about it, happiness is really about a collection of moments.

Moments like getting a good grade in school, watching a sunset, being in the arms of your lover, hearing you baby cry for the first time, or just hearing kids laugh, or coming home and having your dog run up to you and give you kisses. 

So how do we not achieve happiness? By choosing to just be happy. When we focus on just being happy, we usually end up depressed because there is no substance behind the approach – either we can’t figure out what makes us happy, or we think about a time when we were happy, which might make us try to recreate a moment that can’t be recreated. 

Viktor Frankl talks about finding meaning and purpose in our lives instead of trying to be happy. It is especially true that we have to look for meaning when it feels like nothing makes sense – that’s what makes us survive and live another day. If we think about breaking things down and finding meaning in moments of happiness and joy, we can feel more content and at peace instead always of striving to just be happy. 

In my opinion we really can’t experience true joy if we also don’t experience suffering. Finding meaning in our suffering can also help us find meaning and value in moments of happiness.

As humans we experience tons of emotions that come in and out of our day-to-day life. Some of us ignore them, some of us sit with them and some us just let them come and go. This is true of happiness; it’s an emotion in a moment, just like sadness, anger, excitement and fear. Being present enough in a moment of happiness to actually experience it allows you to carry it with you, even when you are down. When we think about finding meaning in joy and suffering, and when we are present in our experiences, we find a greater purpose in our lives instead of just the pursuit of happiness.

The challenge is being open to accepting the moments and being present enough to enjoy them. When we shut ourselves off to feeling emotions we shut ourselves off from experiencing moments that are good to hold onto. Try for a change opening yourself up to be present in the moments of your emotions. If we allow ourselves to be present, I think we also open ourselves up to finding meaning and purpose…perhaps then, we will find the fulfillment that ultimately makes us happy.