In talking with a friend yesterday, we stumbled into a really important question that seems pretty simple on the surface:
Are you happy?
Turns out, it’s like the tip of an iceberg. Harmless question on the surface it seems, but it has the mass to knock you off course if you run squarely into it. As we talked about it, it lead to other important questions.
What does it mean to be happy?
Is it a yes or no question? Perhaps it should be, how happy are you? (But that’s still complicated.)
What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy?
Are there degrees of happiness? If so, what are they?
Is content and happy the same thing or do we just confuse the two?
If you are malcontent, does that mean you can’t be happy?
I think that happiness is an interesting topic. Happiness is one of those ideas that we talk about as if a common definition or understand exists, but I don’t think that is the case. It’s also one of those topics I tend to love because despite it being such an incredibly significant topic in our lives, many of us don’t really want to look directly at it because when we do, we see things we’ve been trying hard not to see.
The question “Are you happy?” has weight because it has consequences. What if your answer is “no?” Then, what do you do you do?
All the more reason to ask it, I think.