What Is True Happiness? (11 Experts Explain)

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Updated on 22 October 2020
Expert Content

We’re all human and we all want to be happy. But have you ever asked yourself, what really is true happiness?

We asked a selected group of experts to offer their answers to this important question.

Here’s what they said.

Compassion Is The Foundation Of True Happiness

Marshall Kupka-Moore, CEO of Source Wellness

When we think of true happiness, we should conceive of something possible in any circumstance.

In other words, true happiness needs to be based on something true and omnipresent. If this is the case, we need to move away from thinking of happiness as fulfilling momentary desires and move towards deriving happiness from lasting values, namely compassion.

Compassion is the state of uprooting the causes of suffering from your own life and the lives of others. Because suffering is omnipresent in our human existence, it is a worthy foundation to base our happiness on, as contradictory as it may sound.

As we act through compassion, we see the suffering of others lessen.

As we see others’ suffering lessen, we feel a sense of warm-heartedness, we develop meaningful connections with others, and we help make the world a more kind, caring, and happy place.

Compassion and happiness are like the flame of a candle, which only grows brighter the more it is shared.

It’s About Making Feeling Good A Priority

Jacqueline Pirtle, Holistic Practitioner and Author

True happiness is when you care about how you feel and make feeling good a priority.

By connecting to your inner you – that is always wanting you to be happy and guiding you to your happiness – you don’t base your happiness on anything else but yourself, you claim responsibility for your own happiness, and you step into being in charge of how you feel and how you want to feel.

This erases the exhausting job of changing anything outside of you and sets you free to be and live happily anywhere at any time.

It’s something that we all are longing to experience and quite frankly, came here to enjoy.


(Photo: Adobe Stock)

True Happiness Comes From Finding Your True Calling

Mary Potter Kenyon, Certified Grief Counselor and Author

True happiness comes from discovering our true calling and getting lost in our passions.

Scientific research has proven that we are all designed to be creative, and are happiest when fulfilling our creative potential.

One of my sons recently asked me if I was happy, surprising me with the seriousness of his question as my sons tend to joke about everything.

Looking deep inside myself for the answer, I realized that despite missing his father, who’d died in 2012, and experiencing my share of daily stressors, I am.

I’ve discovered a real sense of purpose in the ensuing years by writing books, doing workshops and public speaking, taking classes to become a certified grief counselor, and founding a lifelong learners group, an annual grief retreat and a writer’s conference. Helping others has helped me.

I never feel more alive than when I am doing workshops and presentations. I’m not just happy, I’ve found eudaimonia. Loosely translated, the ancient Greek word means figuring out one’s purpose in life, given their unique set of talents and capabilities, and pursing goals that give their life meaning.

When I was offered my current job as program coordinator for a spirituality center in 2018, it felt as though I’d been preparing for it for years, as if everything I’d done since my husband David’s death had served as a stepping stone to this very job.

Not only would I be involved in one of my favorite activities—planning and conducting programs—I’d be free to talk daily about God and prayer, a dream come true for someone whose faith had become such a big part of her life.

If this can happen to me in my late fifties, a mostly stay-at-home isolated mother who could barely string two words together to talk to the butcher or the mailman, who now does public speaking and presentations, then it is never too late to discover what it is that makes you come alive.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?

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True Happiness Comes From Within

Jacob Aqua, Co-Founder and Chief Mindfulness Officer at Source Wellness

When I think of the word ‘happiness’, I think of an experience or an emotion that is pleasurable and exciting. I think of something that can often come from an external source.

When I think of ‘true happiness’, I think of an experience that comes from a deeper place. I think of something that comes from an internal source.

So then, how do we actually tap into what’s within? How do we experience a sense of lasting, true happiness?

Well, it’s simple but not easy. Contentment, peace, and inner harmony are the perfumes of an unmoving, unchanging awareness that we naturally, wholly are.

We have mistakenly believed that our ‘truest self’ is our identity: things like our name, our background, our relationship to the world.

While these things are important, they are not wholly who and what we are.

By resting in a space of stillness and awareness, by meditating, by intentionally resting, or by spending time in the loving embrace of nature, we can practice familiarizing ourselves with the truest source of who we are within.

Only then will true happiness follow. The more we spend time resting in this space, the more we will experience the byproduct of this loving, open, peaceful inner space. One of those byproducts is true happiness.

So in essence, happiness is incredible and it feels great; however, we must base our true happiness on what is internal, lasting, and what is always available to us.

It’s About Being Mindful And Grateful

Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez, Yoga Teacher and Mindful Business Advisor

To many, happiness comes from tangible things such as cars, a big house, or money from a stable, high-paying job/business. But true happiness is more than that.

To be truly happy means to live a life of serenity, able to appreciate simple things around you, in harmony with others, and doing things that make you feel good about yourself.

The good news is that we can live that life if we only learn how to be mindful and grateful.

Mindful living helps fill your life with gratitude. And I believe mindfulness and gratitude are two essential ingredients of a genuinely happy life.

The thing is, not a lot of people realize that happiness can be found if you pay enough attention to the simple, little things.

One of the mindful exercises I like to practice myself and recommend to my coaching clients, is the ‘reverse bucket list’, which involves focusing on the simple joys of life.

Instead of creating a to-do list in life, the reverse bucket list helps them reflect on their past achievements – no matter how small they may be.

It’s about counting the blessings and reflecting on the positives that have happened.

It also helps you come up with realizations like how far you’ve come, what you enjoy doing most, and your personal purpose.

This exercise taps into gratitude, letting you remember those moments of life when you feel great. Celebrating tiny wins, however, may take a little bit of practice; you might find yourself too focused on big achievements that you may forget the small ones.

Don’t expect the gratifying feeling to come overnight. But if you make gratitude a habit, you will notice that your life will change.

You will start to notice everyday moments that give you joy and you will find yourself experiencing true happiness from within.

And when you do, you will become a beacon of happiness for those around you as well.

What Is The Purpose Of Meditation?

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True Happiness Is An Inside Job

Jaime Bronstein, Licensed Therapist

True happiness is when you feel at peace inside – it’s the absence of pain and suffering.

True happiness exists when one can unconditionally love themselves, enabling them to love others unconditionally.

You can cultivate happiness by practicing mindfulness and by being in the moment.

Living in the past causes depression, and living in the future can cause anxiety, so live in the moment – live for today. The happier you feel today, the happier you will be tomorrow.

You can cultivate happiness by thinking and feeling grateful. Existing in a state of gratitude feels good. It helps you look at your life, and instead of looking at the negative, you focus on the positive.

True happiness is an inside job – it can only be cultivated by looking inside, knowing your worth, knowing what you have to offer the world, and attracting people and circumstances that can add to your happiness.

Still, when it comes to chicken or the egg, it must start with you.

If someone feels happy because of a person or circumstance, it will not be sustainable if they don’t feel happiness within.

It’s About More Than Just Being In A Good Mood

Milana Perepyolkina, Author of Gypsy Energy Secrets and Dark Chocolate for the Soul

In my experience, people have a baseline expectation for their happiness that is set too low.

Happiness means more than being in a good mood. When you are interested in getting as much out of life as possible you take the steps necessary to create a life that is full of bliss.

A fulfilled life means embracing life – waking up with a smile, jumping out of bed in the morning and looking forward to work that is engaging and challenging, enjoying healthy relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

A rich life is built by holding nothing back and being free of fear most of the time – until a healthy of dose of fear in the short term spurs good and decisive action.

Robust good health is enjoying how your body feels, being full of energy, not being sick or at risk for chronic illness, experiencing deep rest and play, and loving the food you eat and how good it makes you feel.

This much higher level of mental, emotional, and physical happiness is within everyone’s reach and it is also a magical way to live, especially for seniors.

Thinking Thoughts

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It’s About The Journey, Not The Destination

Leanne Lopez Mosley, Female Entrepreneur Productivity And Business

Often people get so caught up in thinking that true happiness will come ‘when’ they have achieved their goal.

However, happiness actually comes in the pursuit of our goals, this is the real pursuit of happiness.

This is because once we decide on a goal, especially with an emotional connection, our subconscious brain goes into problem solving mode and we will find ways to achieve that goal.

This releases dopamine hits and we feel happiness and joy on the journey to achieving our goals.

As humans, we think that, “when I have, do or achieve ‘X’, I will be happy,” – but the happiness once we achieve that goal is ultimately short-lived.

The inevitable happiness high lasts momentarily, sometimes as short as 15 seconds and if you are lucky as long as one week, once we have achieved our goals.

True happiness is in the pursuit of what we want and not in the achieving of those goals.

Likewise, true happiness can be felt through expressing gratitude for what we have not what we ‘want’.

Gratitude is scientifically shown to help people relish in the good experiences, large and small, which in turn increases our happiness and improves our overall mental health.

We live in a culture fixated on more; more likes, more things, more followers, more everything. Gratitude helps us to focus instead on what we have and show appreciation, which ultimately brings joy and happiness.

Happiness Is A Way Of Being

Tacha Kasper, Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist

True happiness is not a destination or goal – instead, it’s a way of being.

Having a sense of safety and significance is the foundation for happiness. When we feel secure and know the value of our being (instead of focused on what we do, AKA a “human doing”) we can feel worthy regardless of circumstances.

Feeling safe allows us to be authentic and vulnerable, with ourselves and with others, which creates significant connections.

When we have this solid foundation of safety and significance, we can experience the world around us without fear and judgement, and this opens us up to looking for, and creating joy, all around us.

It allows us to have self-compassion, even when the world around us might not. It’s also the cornerstone of living a fiercely resilient life.

No one else can do it for you or bring it to you – you have to create it for yourself.

We’ve all experienced people who have everything yet are still miserable, and those with nothing who are happy. True happiness comes from inside of you, your unique being, and not from others.

The people who love you, love you for you and not for what you do. You are fully worthy even when you are not doing anything.

So embrace yourself, and work to create a safe and significant foundation, where you love and accept yourself (with all your faults) and believe in your own worth. This will create true happiness wherever you are.

How To Focus On Yourself

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Happiness Resides Within You

Natalie Hardie, Mental Health Practitioner

Happiness is a basic human emotion which relates to life fulfilment, enlightenment, appreciation and pleasure.

Happiness is essentially a state of mind. You don’t need to look for it or chase it externally because it resides within you.

Therefore, you are in control of your own true happiness. Happiness can be created by daily positive thoughts and perceptions of your life events.

Focusing your attention to what you makes you happy; forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production, which promotes feelings of contentment and pleasure.

When you repeatedly practise gratitude, this can lead to consistent feelings of happiness.

With consistency, you are training your brain to rewire and create new neural pathways. The more often you do this, the pathway becomes stronger until happiness becomes your primary response.

In your journey of true happiness, it is vital to take care of your mental health.

Ensuring your diet is healthy, having adequate sleep, avoiding stress, respecting your own boundaries, expressing your feelings and having positive and secure relationships with others all impact your mental health and ultimately your true happiness.

Why Is Self Love Important?

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What Does ‘Happiness’ Actually Mean?

Tara Geraghty, Author and Leadership Development Expert

We live in a world where we are constantly on a quest for happiness.

We grow up thinking if we get good grades we will get in the “right” college and we will be happy. If we do well in that “right college” we will get the “right” job and then that will make us happy.

Finding the “right” person, having the “right” home, etc all in in an endless search to be happy.

Yet, we often find ourselves after each milestone wondering what happened. We may ask ourselves, “I thought that would make me happy, and it did for a moment, but why am I now not happy again?”

And so the cycle starts again looking for the next “right thing” that will bring us true and lasting happiness.

But what if searching for happiness is a futile search? Have we ever stopped to think what the word ‘happy’ actually means?

Happiness comes from the 14th-century word “happ” which meant: lucky, favored by fortune, being in advantageous circumstances, prosperous; of events, turning out well, from hap (n.) chance, fortune + “-y”

In fact, from Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for “happy” at first meant “lucky”.

Being “happy” it seems, has more to do with luck, chance and circumstances than actual choice. It’s fleeting and exists for a momentary burst of euphoria.

It wasn’t until the 1520s, that happiness appeared as a combination of good fortune, from happy.

It was then that the meaning shifted to a being in a pleasant and contented mental state.

Contentment is something we struggle with. In a culture that’s always after the next best thing, from the latest smartphone to planning our next vacation to striving for our next promotion, we are conditioned to scoff at contentment and almost equate it with laziness.

Yet, maybe contentment is really what our hearts desire. For as Pearl S Buck said, “Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”

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