I love this question. But you know what I love more? Dissecting it. A few months ago, I analysed the implications behind the most dreaded college-related question “What do you want to study?” and it really got me thinking about what other common questions have such deep and convoluted nuances in their meaning.

So, what makes you happy?

This is such a simple and endearing question, but reading an article/book (I can’t remember the source) led me to look at it with a closer inspection.

On one side of the coin, a lot of simple things in life can make us happy. It may be something we do, a nice gesture someone does for us, or that spark that brightens our day. For me, I imagine sceneries that recall good memories. Laughing with my best friend. Finishing a project I loved doing. Thinking about future traveling plans.

Happiness comes in every form and shape and at any moment in our lives. There may not be sunshine every day of our lives, but, if you ask me, it is ultimately our mentality what matters. How we look for the spark in every situation. It is what keeps us going in times of distress; it may even be what drives us to keep going – this leads me to the other side of this coin.

Jokes aside, if I ask you the one thing that makes you happy in your life right now, what would you say? Common answers may be your family, friends, or partner, money, music, job, nature, life. These are all wonderful answers. Any answer is wonderful, because happiness is ultimately the celebration of our lives. Everything that surrounds us can bring us joy. But they also come with the not-so-great implications.

The answer “What makes you happy” then becomes a question of what means the most to you, what you treasure the most, what you would fight for.In the following paragraphs, I’ll go into a personal anecdote of how I have come to see happiness.

As a descendant from an Asian family, one of our most important values is family. Specifically, my parents’ sacrifices are completely and directly towards the success and happiness of my brother and I. When my dad’s not working or traveling, he spends his time working his way up – from scratch – to become our personal counselor in our lifelong journey. My mom doesn’t work, solely for the purpose of taking care of my brother and me. If you asked my parents what brings them the greatest joy, they’ll say “my children”. Everything they did not have whilst growing up, they will try their best to give to us. It’s a really grand gesture that has provided me a great childhood, but it has also enabled me to learn from it.

But in the journey, I feel that I have become my parents’ main purpose in life. We all have someone we love and deeply care about (probably more than one person). We may invest much of our time and thought into them, because they are now part of our lives. Part of us. As amazing as that is, I don’t think that our source of happiness should be someone else. Even if that person is our spouse or our children. I may be biased on this perspective, as I have yet to have children on my own, but as for now, I stand by this view.

We are all individuals, and as much as we may try to deny it, we are alone in this world. Nothing can replace that, and we shouldn’t try to replace that with anything or anyone. I do believe that the main purpose of our lives is to live for others, but not if we don’t live by ourselves first.

By focusing all our attention and focus on other people – spouse, children, sick family member – we can become slightly blinded by all other opportunities that are in front of us. We push other passions and interest aside and, by doing so, we are pushing away our potential.

Nurturing that potential is so important because it’s what ultimately enables us to develop ourselves to the best of our abilities, and enables us to be comfortable with our sole selves. Once that’s achieved, we can help others with our full care and attention, because we already know what we want.


Thoughts on this topic?

Misty Prose