What Must I Do To Be Happy?

Today, I can’t get my thoughts away from the frolic in temperament-land.

Teacher, what must I do to be happy? 

Who hasn’t asked this?  I remember Nicodemus who asked Jesus,

Teacher, what must I do to be saved? 

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I bet he was wondering, too, about happiness.

I’m not equating happiness with salvation or morality.  I am saying this might have been a parcel of his question.  Happiness is an emotion per our language and cultural definition.  And we have enjoyed our path of discovery in seeing how emotions are tools we use to interpret the world around us.  They are not universal or constant between us.

After I read,

Individualism, a stronger predictor of well-being than wealth,

in R. Fischer, PhD’s Meta-Analysis of Well-Being, I followed my thoughts toward the Jungian Typology of Temperaments.  Remember our pasture and barn people?  The Jungian Typology of Temperaments is our playground where we have a wish-basket equipped with supplies to become any variation we might choose of what our design requests.  Read the article and you might follow a similar path of thought.  Or not.

In case you’re wondering, and per Dr. Q (who is a poor statistician so take this for what it’s worth,) a meta-analysis is a study of studies.  A meta-analysis brings together a number of studies that reflect a population of people and a methodology that is as objective as we can find.  We compare them and through the tools statistics and logic offer, we make a summary conclusion.

If you are familiar with the tomatometer on RottenTomatoes.com, you already have a sense of what a meta-analysis does.  (I love rottentomatoes.com.)  There is more power in the indexed findings of many studies than in just one study.  There is also more power in a fresh tomato than a rotten one.


  1. Do you see happiness as something that reflects your condition of spirituality and/or your condition of brain health?  Why?
  2. What do you perceive brings you happiness?  Please tell me your story.

28 thoughts on “What Must I Do To Be Happy?

  1. “…emotions are tools we use to interpret the world around us. They are not universal or constant between us.”

    I love that! What wonderful food for thought.

    I think, for me, happiness is a choice. I choose every day to be happy. It wasn’t always this way. I used to worry a lot and fear actually kept me from appreciating all that I have. I chose to react to situations and people around me with the beautiful energy created by me… not them.

    I am not responsible for all the things that are wrong in the world and worrying about them will not make them go away. When people around me start to bitch or whine, I gently ask them to do it somewhere else. I prefer not to surround myself with negativity. Oh I have opinions. I sure do, but negative discussions are not productive. I would much rather share a good laugh!

    I try to do nice things for others, without expecting anything in return. When I am having a bad day, I can get out of myself by doing something kind for someone else. It is a real day changer. Mostly, I try to keep my sense of humor with me at all times. If you can laugh at yourself, nothing seems so terrible.

    Oh, and I do contribute much of my happiness to brain health, in that I do not put alcohol or illegal drugs into my healthy body. A lot of lives are ruined with unhealthy habits.

    Okay…. I think I’m done. *giggle*

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Happiness is an alluring idea that we could live in a state of euphoria if we wanted to or if we only knew how. I used to wonder why the happy feeling didn’t last long. Well, it’s only a feeling anyway, and if based on circumstances, bound to change. We need to have purpose and fulfillment in life. We need pleasure, as well as some displeasure, for a balanced life. Contentment, perhaps a cousin to happiness, is good, and can be lasting. Dreams and goals are good as long as they don’t become obsessions that destroy one’s contentment.

    Chronic pain, emotional or physical, may impede or prevent happiness. I read a book this week about a man living with severe chronic pain. He found a way to be content, even though he very much wanted healing for his pain. The book is entitled Pain in the Offering by Terry Michaels.

  3. For me, happiness is directly related to peace of mind. This morning, sitting on the porch with my husband, watching two families of hummingbirds playing and eating over our koi/lily ponds, on a cool summer day, I was at peace – and I was happy. And then the rooster across the street started crowing and the two dogs started barking and the kids started screaming and, in our up-until-“those”-people-moved-in quiet neighborhood, the silence of nature was again shattered, as it has been all spring. My sense of peace was shattered with it, and my happiness turned to frustration and sadness as my husband and I (mostly I), tried to figure out what two senior citizens with a house and yard they have loved for 42 years could possibly do to find the peace we have enjoyed all these years. Happiness, for me, is peace of mind and spirit. Good thing it’s also love. We’ve been blessed with lots of love, and that is something the stupid rooster can’t shatter!

      • I have re-written this several times. I don’t know how to say it any other way. The rooster is only part of a totally not funny situation that occured across the street from us over the winter and that leaves me – me, more than my more level-headed husband – incredibly distressed about the fact that we have no way to solve the problem and no means to get away from it. Unhappy barely covers it and it scares me because I’m not sure I’m emotionally strong enough to handle it on a long-term basis. Happiness, in this case, definitely reflects on the condition of my brain health, and it’s not a good thing.

              • We had a wonderful day. The kids surprised my husband by coming 30 miles to attend church with us. We had a great dinner out (which my husband insisted on paying for) and the kids came back to our house to swim. It was fun and silly and just perfect. My husband and I then celebrated Rory’s win at the Open and then we watched The Bucket List….and, as I do too often recently, I recognized the great love we share in my family…. and I recognized our age and the frailty of life, and I ended the perfect day in tears…of love and of fear. I’m sorry. I wanted to share that but didn’t know how. You opened the door by asking me to tell you about our celebration…and there you have it. Thanks for asking…I think.

  4. No, I do not see happiness and spirituality going hand in hand. Having faith does help me be stronger but no it doesn’t pull me out of sadness. I can be grateful and depressed at the same time. It drives me nuts when people say things like you can only feel inferior if you “let” someone make you feel that way. It’s crap, when someone says something to me that is intended to hurt it’s HURTS at least for that first second/minute whatever. I can choose to overcome it but initially it still hurts. So, to say having a closer connection to God will make you happy is crazy. It helps me hang on and push though, it blesses my heart & maybe someday I will look back think how happy I was to have Him in my life (and I am.) However, for me it doesn’t in itself make me happy.

  5. Great post! If people develop a working definition of happiness, they can begin to take steps toward achieving it. So often when my patients tell me they just want to be happy, they are unable to describe what happiness would look like in their life.

    • Thx dr Becker. Grt to hear from u. I’ve found for myself that I perceive greater freedom of self care in the understanding that emotions such as happiness are not necessarilly chosen as well as the role of them in the way I see the world around me. Thk u for sharing this w us. Keep on.

  6. Happiness is the journey. We do not stay happy long. It is in the getting there. Spirituality helps but most often we cry for help from God when we are unhappy or in need. An attitude of gratefulness is well on the way to happyness.

  7. Enjoyed the article… Interesting that even the desirability of individualism may be culturally relative (although that makes sense).

    Happiness is being open and adaptable to what Life brings to us. Happiness is being in the moment…. (By far, not my comprehensive definition…but it is how I would begin to answer this question).

    • i read the post again after your comment and agree w u whole-heartedly. sometimes my thoughts r not as tightly expressed as i dream. going from brain to hand/writing is much easier than it sounds! this post is meant really not to stand alone but to link the readers continuum of thoughts and from previous posts where we explore the role our temperament has on our emotions/behaviors and in becoming our own friend. thank u for probing

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