What is Happiness – Teen talk with Ana DeBernardo

Debernardo2By Ana DeBernardo – June, 2014

This past week, my class was asked to write a paragraph on what “happiness” means to us and what our own idea of happiness is. For the first time, I was forced to consider the question, “What is the essence of joy?” At the beginning of class, our teacher handed us a packet filled with research collected by several prestigious doctors of psychology and sociology experts. It contained a study conducted by a noted doctor from Minnesota who had calculated an actual mathematical formula that could supposedly ensure one’s happiness. The article went on to explain that multiple factors are involved; among them, our genetic makeup, the personal qualities we possess, a balanced amount of money, love and health, and the circumstances we are put in (all of which he then multiplied by 3 and subtracted 7…or something like that). Immediately, upon reading this, I detected the falsehood in his results, and instead of pondering the possibility that there was some truth hidden behind his experiment—went on to scoff at the fact that almost everything is being analyzed nowadays – things that do not require formulas to “solve.”

This past February, I was lucky enough to fly to Miami with my mom and my sister, to see our favorite Spanish singer; Pablo Alborán. Seeing that his popularity lies in Latin America and Spain, and that he really doesn’t have many American fans in our predominantly English-speaking country, we KNEW the opportunity to see Pablo in concert had to be seized. Conveniently enough, my mom has a sister who lives in Miami, and the concert happened to fall on a long weekend. So, we took advantage of the situation that was clearly meant to be and took a mini jaunt down to Florida. From Friday to Tuesday, we spent our days tanning ourselves on the hot Miami sand and sharing the last 7 years’ worth of stories with our family (who we hadn’t seen in that time). All I remember is being so happy the entire weekend and wanting nothing else but to stay there forever with my two favorite ladies in the beautiful Florida weather.

I find that “happiness,” however, has many different definitions and means something different to every person. My idea of happiness is a concert, warm weather, and family time, but other people’s idea can be far from that. I also do not agree with the idea that an equation exists to calculate happiness. Happiness is not something that can be measured, nor something that can be attained via algebraic formulas. Happiness is a state of life, not the answer to a math problem. In my opinion, if someone were to ask me what the main ingredient of happiness is (out of the three choices given: money, love, and fame) I would without a doubt say love. This is not to say I mean purely romantic love, but the experience of loving your family and friends, for example, and being loved by them in return. One of my favorite quotes is: “If you have nothing but you have love, you have everything. But, if you have everything and you don’t have love, you have nothing.” (I have heard the same said of good health, as well). I love this quote because it’s so simple, yet it summarizes the key to happiness in such a barefaced way. That is all you need to know in order to be happy: if you have love, you have everything. If you have all the material trappings in the world but not love, you have nothing.

I think that the lack of love in one’s life is one of the main reasons why so many people nowadays are lost and as a result, search for happiness in all the wrong places. All of the things wrong with society, like the abuse of drugs and alcohol, are glorified in our distorted culture, and the upcoming generations are being conditioned to believe that such a path is the new normal. Our world is being drained of love, and no love means no happiness. Therefore, world, this is my suggestion to you: love and allow yourself to be loved, because everyone wants to be happy, and happiness can’t be yours without first learning to love.