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Maybe you need to meet more people?


I think happiness is not a state of being. Therefore, I don't perceive people as actually being 'happy.' Happiness, IMO, is in the moments. It's inherently fleeting. That's what I think Camus was saying in The Myth of Sisyphus. We're all pushing the rock up the mountain, and it's going to tumble down at some point, no question.

but the pushing it up is what constitutes the human condition. And that's not sad or tragic; it's filled with joy. getting the boulder over this particularly difficult precipice, reaching a place on the mountain with a beautiful view, where the rock is a little bit lighter, that moment is joy.

*getting down off soapbox now*


Um, how many chapters in the book do I get?


I think it is likely that many more people are happy than you suppose. Detecting it may be difficult at certain stages of our own lives. FWIW, I think that as we get older it's easier to detect happiness in people, perhaps because we recognize it in ourselves more easily.

To the extent that it seems many people are unhappy, they are probably only unhappy briefly. But, I suspect that people tend to be unhappy, to the extent they are, as we are creatures outside of our natural state. The more we lock ourselves up in cubicles and offices, rather than be part of the nature we are part of, the more likely we are to be unhappy.

I'm rarely truely happy in the office. I'm almost always happy working outdoors. This may be the case for many more people than realize it. And lawyers, like you and I, deal in unhappy topics, which tends to make everything seem afflicted. Real life is not that way.


This is so weird. I swear I was just about to email you a request for your next all-request day: "How can I be happy?" I figured you would have the answer. Now I'm unhappy and disillusioned.


I'm with Yeoman on this. I am rarely my sparkling self at work (blase, not bitter). But I get home and see the girlfriend and roll around on the floor with the dogs and I am good to go. I think that I am more happy than unhappy, and I'll take it that way.



Milbarge, I put myself on my own list. I think I'm one of the happiest people I know. I did put a question mark after my name, though, because I'm still fighting myself. Maybe I don't really belong on the list.

And to Yeoman and David, I agree with your observations. I know lots of people who have the same mix. But what I mean by truly, deeply happy people are those who've built lives that seem to fit them, whether they're working or playing -- who have a relaxed ease, a continuing curiosity, a sense of playfulness and enjoyment that is consistent across all the facets of their lives. There are lots of people who are happy at home and merely content at work, or vice versa. (And there are also lots of people who are miserable in many respects) But people who convey a sense of meaning, purpose, wholeness, and excitement in work, relationships, and play -- that's a rare breed.


I'm going to be very, very unhappy if I'm not on this list...


If you get a chance, find and read Jutta Bauer's "Selma." It's a children's book that contains the best depiction of true happiness I've ever seen or read. The title character, a sheep, describes her daily routine: wake up, eat grass, play with her children, exercise, eat more grass, etc. Asked what she would do if she had more time, she recites the same routine. And if she had a million dollars? Still the same things.

When I first read the story of Selma the sheep, I asked myself if I would change anything whatsoever about my life if I had more time or money, then suddenly realized that I was already completely happy -- truly and deeply happy, to use your words. Sure, extra money would repay my staggering school loans more quickly, and I could always find things to do with extra time... but I'm quite happy with the way my life is right now, and I'm proud of the fact that I've made specific choices that resulted in this ongoing state of happiness.

Sadly, you're right that completely happy people seem to be few and far between. But we do exist, thereby proving that happiness is not an illusion. It's an attitude.


I agree with Sh's initial assessment - there are not a ton of truely happy people. Once, about three years ago, I was one of them. Lasted about two years. I was in a sweet spot in life and I was happy all day every day regardless what I was doing or who I was with. I had one or two "blue" days, but 99% of my life was perfect. Now that I am so much more successful, my life sucks the life out of me. I can't wait to get back to that place.


"people who convey a sense of meaning, purpose, wholeness, and excitement in work, relationships, and play"

What you may be forgetting is that this is your definition of happiness. For you to be truly happy, it seems, you need all of these things. Some folks are very content - even happy? - to simply push the clock to make a dollar, enough to enable them to enjoy other pursuits in other hours. And in doing so, be immensely happy, even in the mundane and scheduled, and basic ins and out of daily life - without the broader purposes, innovation, and excitement that you crave.

It may be difficult to discern true happiness in others. It may be even more difficult to do so when only measuring by your own ideals for happiness.

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