University of Sussex Special Collections and Mass Observation Archive Blog

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Blogging about happiness



My name is Donna and I’m studying for an MA in Media Practice for Development and Social Change at the University of Sussex.

Between Monday the 4th and Friday the 8th of November, I will be blogging about the Mass Observation Archive events taking place in Brighton for the ESRC Festival of Social Science. The events will consist of talks, workshops and a panel discussion based on the theme of happiness.

For starters, here are my own thoughts on what happiness is:

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” – Dalai Lama

Happiness is an emotional state. It comes and goes. No one can be happy all the time, can they? But the definition of ‘happiness’ differs depending on who you are.

What happiness means to me…

I am at my happiest when I’m outdoors, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, and I’m surrounded by beautiful nature as well as the people I love. But I am also content when I’m snuggled up in bed on a cold day watching a film or reading a book. Obviously eating delicious food and having a much-needed sleep contribute to my happiness. Sometimes I even feel happy for no apparent reason. Happiness can be found in different places, with different people, from different things. There are different levels of happiness, but they all feel good.

What I remember most about my early teenage years is that I wasn’t happy. I didn’t understand what the purpose of life was and I certainly wasn’t enjoying it. I had a really negative attitude on top of all the problems a teenager faces, and then some. I thought, “it’s the way I am; I can’t change it”.

But when I realised I could take an active role in making a change, or started to accept things for how they were (if they couldn’t be changed) – for how I was – I began to find happiness more often. I found happiness to the extent where I was happy most of the time and only had occasional down-days as opposed to the other way around. Everyone has bad days. Some more than others. But 50 Cent’s lyrics from Many Men really strike a chord with me:

“Sunny days wouldn’t be special, if it wasn’t for rain. Joy wouldn’t feel so good, if it wasn’t for pain”

I realised that happiness won’t just come to me. I had to take control of it. I began to appreciate people more, participate in activities I enjoyed, and most importantly change my negative attitude into a positive one. So maybe happiness is an attitude rather than a state. You are more likely to be happy if you take things on the chin, look on the bright side and remind yourself of all the good things in life. Happiness is not materialistic though:

“The poor man has it all but not content with anything, while the rich man’s hands are empty but he’s sitting like a king” – Matisyahu

Instead of searching for the purpose of life, we should enjoy it. That might even be its purpose!

Happiness is love, appreciation, generosity, proactivity and acceptance.

One Response to “Blogging about happiness”

  1. Mayank Chadha says:

    Very thought out and very positive.

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