What is Happiness?

Brandi Daniels
3 min readSep 17, 2020
Photo by Denise Jones on Unsplash

In this weeks readings, we annotated poems from May Sarton titled “My Sisters, O My Sisters” and “The Work of Happiness”. In this discussion, I will be doing a closer reading of “The Work of Happiness” because I feel that this poem paints many vivid pictures and requires deeper thought with discovering the true meaning of happiness and the process to get to happiness in your life. Happiness is very simply defined as the state of being happy. A more complex definition would the feeling that one gets when they know that life is good and you cannot help but to smile. It is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, safe, or lucky, they fell happiness. While all of these definitions may true, one might deny the fact that there is actually a definition for happiness. Considering the fact that everyone’s happiness is different from another. With this, we must understand the process, the trials and tribulations that people have to deal with before they can actually get to the state of happiness.

In this poem, Sarton discusses the the meaning of happiness and compares it to different things around her. To further analyze the poem, I would like to discuss the following lines: “I thought of happiness, how it is woven/Out of the silence in the empty silence in the empty house each day/And how it is not sudden and it is not given/But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.” These lines made me think about how it is a long process to get to happiness in which the process may be easier for some while hard for others. Happiness or any emotions are not automatically instilled into peoples lives when they are first born. Like everything else including lessons and education, we all have to learn what happiness is as well as any other emotions/feelings. When we do learn these feelings and emotions, they will or should eventually grow with us as happiness is caused by so many different things.

Sarton continues to describe happiness as a growth mechanism in which people have to grow to have happiness in themselves. One can not be happy unless they are happy with themselves. This is often a mental problem that people tend to deal with and it can be identified but not subject to depression. She explains it as “For what is happiness but growth in peace” meaning that people have to find their own inner peace before they can grow to have and experience happiness in their lives. People often find themselves indulging in wrongful activities just for their own satisfaction. These activities may include drugs or alcohol. Some positive things that people may find happiness other than themselves are with friends and/or family members. Hobbies are also a way to keep the mind at ease. Even with all of this, happiness is still a very difficult subject at hand no matter how simple it may appear to be.