Defining Your Happiness

What’s your definition of happiness? Research in the field of positive psychology and happiness often define a happy person as someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, and anger (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life, moments of pleasure, but overall it has to do with the positive experience of emotions.

The key to these definitions is that positive emotions do not indicate the absence of negative emotions. A “happy person” experiences the spectrum of emotions just like anybody else, but the frequency by which they experience the negative ones may differ. It could be that “happy people” don’t experience as much negative emotion because they process it differently or they may find meaning in a way others have not. In fact, using the phrase “happy person” is probably incorrect because it assumes that they are naturally happy or that positive things happen to them more often. Nobody is immune to life’s stressors, but the question is whether you see those stressors as moments of opposition or moments of opportunity.

Regardless of where you are on the happiness range, each person has their own way of defining happiness.

How do you define happiness?


Lyubomirsky, S., Schkade, D. & Sheldon, K.M. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Retrieved from: