The Journey of Happiness

Julianna Kasper, Staff Writer

Happiness is an abstract concept. When one thinks of a typical happy person, smiling, laughing and cheering is what usually comes to mind. However, if someone stops smiling or laughing, it does not necessarily mean that they are unhappy. This is why happiness has so many different levels, and why it is so difficult to place the word happy in one concrete category. Happiness varies with time too. If you ask your grandparents what makes them happy and then ask your best friend, you’re bound to get different answers, and to observe their different ways of expressing their happiness.

I truly believe that age and happiness are related, but to a certain extent. When asking my twelve-year-old sister what makes her happy, she initially shrugged her shoulders and laughed, claiming she did not know. She then told me that sleeping made her happy, and looked at me for a reaction. When I had none, she changed her answer to food, then to fashion, and then finally to family. Each time she glanced at me looking for validation that she gave a “right” answer. I then told her that there is no correct answer, and that she needed to tell me her final choice. She then went back to her original response, sleeping. My younger cousin, who is also twelve years old, had the same uncertainty as my sister. After much thought, she gave me an answer that surprised me. It wasn’t making slime, eating candy, or watching TV that made her happy; it was love. Pondering the stark differences between my sister and my cousin in their answers, I came to see that age does not always largely contribute to happiness. They are both twelve, and watch the same things and listen to the same music, yet my sister was the one that gave many different answers, trying to find the “right” one. I believe this apprehension to be deeply rooted in today’s society, and how teenagers truly are afraid to be different and stand for their beliefs, even with something as simple as answering the question of what makes them happy.

When speaking to my mother, she was taken back as well. And her first answer was fruit roll-ups, accompanied with a smile and laugh. I then told her that this was for an article, and her whole attitude shifted and she changed her answer to her children. I know for a fact that her family and friends is what makes my mom happy, yet she answered differently the first time I asked her what makes her happy. I think humans all have a basic concept of things that are important to most, such as family, friends, and making memories, is what makes them happy. But when asked, they often answer with less serious things that still make them feel joyful, such as eating cookies, swimming, or shopping. Asking my grandmother what brings her happiness, she immediately answered with her family with no hesitation. This is something that I expected, as my grandma is the matriarch of my family and would do anything for her children or grandchildren. But, is this because of her age? Or her personality? I know for sure if someone asked this question to my grandma thirty years ago she would still say her family makes her happy, as she is and always will be a family-oriented person. This also aligns with her culture, being from Italy and growing up during the 50s, where family values were at its highest point in society.

Asking myself this question, and trying to be as bias-free as possible, I ponder my answer. Sure, my family, friends and dogs make me happy, but so does reading, writing and watching movies. Heck, even eating ice cream and organizing my bedroom make me happy. This is why I have come to the conclusion that I have no answer to my own question. There is not one singular thing that makes me the happiest, because, like everybody, my mood depends on many factors. Of course my family makes me happy, but not when I get into a fight with my sister. And yes, reading a good book makes me happy too, but not when I have a headache. Happiness depends on external factors, personality, and age. This is why I have come to the conclusion that the journey of happiness truly cannot be defined, and no one has one thing above all that makes them the happiest.