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How Will You Know When You’re Happy?

March 27, 2012

I received an email recently from a dear friend wondering, ‘How will I know when I’m happy’?  Not what is happiness, or what isn’t.   What a poignant question.  Isn’t this question at the root of not only our deepest, most heart-felt desires, but also our  most profound disappointments?

We’re inundated with books, movies,  research projects and blog posts offering us someone else’s answers to this question.  I’m astonished by the immediate access I have to others’ thoughts on just about any topic I can imagine.  In thinking about my own happiness, the downside to immediate access to others’ ideas is that I can get confused.  I can begin to lose myself in ways that are so subtle I hardly notice.

Have you ever woken up and realized you’ve bought into something, or are moving in a direction, that doesn’t quite fit you?  Having an answer to this question may help to get you back on your own path.

I hope  you’ll consider staying with the question,  ‘How will I know when I’m happy’?  Try not to rush to ‘the’ answer.  If you find an answer that resonates, keep asking.  There may be more answers, or an expansion of an answer you already have.  This question gives us an opportunity to make sure our ladder is on the right wall.

I absolutely abhor the idea that ‘you made your bed, so lie in it’.  My twist on that theme is ‘you made your bed, and if you don’t like, make it over’..

I invite you to comment with your own thoughts about how you know when you’re happy, recognizing that there are absolutely zero rights or wrongs with this one.


  1. Dick says:

    I am using this question as my “Morning Meditation,” and thinking it through. I’ll let you know. I do know this…an answer did not just immediately come to mind.

  2. Ryan says:

    Very intriguing post. I think when you have found something worthwhile and important to you. If you don’t really care about money or material items, winning the lottery will not make you happy. If you are someone who has a big loving family, but you only got married and had kids because that is what you are supposed to do as an adult after college, your loving family will not fulfill you with happiness. If you took the higher paying more prestigious job over the one you would have loved, you probably will not be happy. This can go on and on. I think you are right that you have to listen to yourself. It is difficult to ignore the social norms and find out what is important I you. Once you know that, start making decisions that reflect those values and you will probably find happiness.

  3. Melissa says:

    Great post!
    What a difficult answer to put into words. Is there really any appropriate way to answer it? I know for me, it’s about the MOMENTS I’m happy. When I am acting in a way that is consistent with my own personal values, and not fighting against myself or my thoughts, I feel “happy” in that moment. Or at least I feel much better than when I don’t (and certainly my days are sprinkled with moments when I don’t). I suppose my own personal goal, when it comes to “being happy,” is to string together many of these moments in a day…and indeed many of these days in a week.

  4. Mary Ann says:

    I know I’m happy when I’m moving freely in my life. I am happy to be free of the chains of fear, and dependency. I like me, and accept each moment as an opportunity to live freely.

  5. Anna says:

    For me its a moment when I feel around my heart that it is nothing more then me and infinity. I AM HAPPY WHEN I AM.

  6. Chris says:

    ‘How will I know when I’m happy’?
    I need to really think about that one. I think it starts with not looking outside for “society” to define happiness and not looking at happiness as a destination (e.g. when I win the $400 million dollar lottery). Also, perhaps happiness is not an individual phenomenom, but more of a collective sense.
    I am happy you asked this question!

  7. Robyn says:

    As I read each comment, just staying with the question, my thinking seems to be getting bigger, more open and flexible. Thank you all so much for contributing your thinking. Love, Robyn

  8. Stephanie Mouton says:

    I often find happiness when I’m completely in the moment … not worrying about what tomorrow might hold, regretting what happened yesterday, or reliving some unpleasant memory. It’s being thankful for being here and now. For me, if I let the rush of life get a hold of me I seem to miss the little things that make me most happy … the stolen moment with my husband, the sweetness of my children when they wake up in the morning, the shared conversation with a dear friend or family member in the middle of a hectic day … sometimes happiness is already there if you slow down enough to notice it!

  9. Robyn says:

    mmmm yes Stephanie…’sometimes happiness is already there if you slow down enough to notice it!’
    i’m going to sit with that on this beautiful morning. Love, Robyn

  10. Vicki says:

    I really love all your seedlings — you have a gift for being able to give a warm thoughtful inspirational, thought-provoking message! Vicki Mills

  11. Karen says:

    I am the “dear friend” Robyn was referring to who asked her the happiness question. I’ve known her for years and I knew she would ponder the answer. In my life I had never thought about whether I was happy or not. I just assumed I was living my life to its fullest and “I must be happy.” But over the last year several very unusual events have occurred and it drove my overwhelming need to answer the question as I realized that I really didn’t know. Thank you all for providing your insight and feedback on what the answer is for you. Robyn certainly has a way of creating a thoughtful environment, even when it’s a subject we’ve never considered lately. Thank you, “dear friend.” Karen

  12. Robyn says:

    I’m beginning to think that this is probably one of those questions that never gets to ‘the answer’. Maybe it’s a question that we try to remember to keep returning to, over and over, to notice if we’re still moving in the direction we want to be going. xo Robyn

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