This I Believe

Sophie - Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
Entered on May 3, 2007

The True Meaning of Happiness

Happiness, the single state that all human beings spend their entire life striving for. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, happiness is good fortune and pleasure, I have spent my entire life believing this and searching for it in that manner. From the time I was a little child, I accredited happiness to the type of car one drove, the quality of clothes worn, and the popularity of one’s friends. Still, I always knew there was a key element missing in this state of supposed happiness.

On Christmas Eve this previous year I had to run to the grocery store to pick up a couple of last minute groceries that my mother needed. Sitting at a stop light on my way home, I saw a middle age beggar couple standing on the street median in the bitter cold, begging for money. Thinking about what their life must be like made my heart fall. I quickly glanced over at the couple with full expectations of seeing sullen, somber faces reflecting the let down their life had given them so far. Rather their faces showed something quite different, both of their faces had smiles from ear to ear and both of them were laughing so hard their laughter easily penetrated the car door.

I could not believe what I saw before me. Why was this couple acting this way? Hysteria from the cold? Not likely. Drugs or alcohol? Possible. But a fix did not quite seem in character for this couple. Yet, for some reason I was unable to comprehend why a couple in this situation, an undesirable situation according to society’s standards, would be able to live with themselves. My eyes kept scanning them from left to right looking for a distinct reason behind their positive outlook and good spirits. Nothing was visible or apparent, nothing at all.

I realized that despite the cold weather, or their dire need for money, the smiles on their faces were genuine. This genuine happiness was present without material objects, but, they did have each other. Society’s standard of material objects is questioned here, one can be truly happy without the luxuries of life, because material objects bring a false, temporary happiness. True happiness is a state of mind, found in the people one chooses to associate with, and this I believe.