Happiness Through The Hour-Glass


If you had asked me what happiness meant a decade ago, my answer would have read: it’s finally coming home to good food and a warm bed. You see, I was in a boarding school that availed me only the basic luxuries—as basic as they could get. When I posed the same question to a group of friends, answers differed with each person defining happiness as best he could, given the prevailing circumstances of their lives.

I used to think this was a one-definition-fits-all thing; that you could tell people what should give them lasting happiness, and that the sum of one’s feeling would be their dreams, both short and long-term, fulfilled. I may have been wrong.

It explains why a person living in luxury would consider suicide when they can afford everything they ever wanted. Why a mother would kill her own baby if children are God’s gift to man. Why certain people suffer spousal abuse, if the call to marriage is the highest union that two people can find. Why privileged children run away from home, when there are less privileged that would die to have just a bit of their part. Or why some go into crime even when provided for by the State. The paradox is that people want happiness but do not understand why their desires, now fulfilled, leave them feeling hollow still.

The much I’ve come to know is that our personal and collective definition of happiness changes the longer the sands pass though the hour-glass. It was Heraclitus who said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man. If human character was subject to time and experience, one’s perception of happiness is also subject to the same prevailing influence.

It brings some perspective into this ever elusive definition. In fact I am willing to bet that if I threw open the same question, obvious as the answer(s) may seem, it will take some thoughts to offer one that pleases you.

So I asked myself again: what does happiness mean to me?

Over time it has been so many things, but the passage of time has helped to refine my perception. The more sand has escaped from the hour-glass of my life, the clearer I see through it. Whereas happiness used to mean getting as much as I could within the shortest possible interval; now it is knowing that happiness is not in achievement itself, but in the journey between how soon I want it and when I eventually get it.

29 thoughts on “Happiness Through The Hour-Glass

  1. Hi Uju,

    You do know that you write beautifully, right? 🙂

    Ah, Happiness, The pursuit of it and The elusiveness of it all. There are times when I know that I am truly happy and then suddenly a peculiar fear grips me, the fear that my happiness might be short-lived or jinxed.

    My personal definition of happiness has become quite simple as I’ve gotten older, “Peace of mind”.


  2. Masterfully stated, uju. A topic and emotion that should be simply understood and enjoyed is so unattainable for some. I’ve never understood why we turn the simplest things in life into the most difficult. Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps because we have created a complex system, we expect everything else to follow the same pattern.

      Thank you, George. It’s so nice to finally see you 🙂


      1. I see happiness as time well spent towards my own pursuits, whether I’m eating, travelling or just being lazy.

        You just gave me an idea, I’m gonna write a snippet on happiness.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm that’s a good one– enjoying every act 🙂
        I’m glad I inspire you to explore the topic. Do let me know when you put it up, please.


  3. I nodded as I read… well-written. We should enjoy the journey as you do.
    I consider happiness a moving target. When you get to it, it moves again. Gratitude grounds me in joy and contentment, even when happiness is far away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “When you get to it, it moves again.”

      Because our desires are insatiable 🙂

      “Gratitude grounds me in joy and contentment, even when happiness is far away.”

      Just like the bible teaches. Grateful people are happy people and contentment breeds joy, which is a better feeling to aspire towards.

      Thank you for this.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your current definition of happiness is spot on. The world today is so focused on results; parents, teachers, bosses etc that we are beginning to forget the importance of enjoying the process itself. people just go through the motions, anything goes, as long as the required result is achieved. The economies of the world are way richer than they used to be, yet global stress levels are at an all-time high, we have way less happy people. Like you said, people are defining their happiness based on results without any plan to enjoy the process itself. They’re usually shocked when they attain it and voila, they’re still quite miserable, if not worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kels,

      Your comment reminds me of Laylard’s work on Happiness and pursuit of economic prosperity.
      Like you’ve rightly said, people seek prosperity but end up dissatisfied in the end. If we spend all our time chasing results, in the end we’ll simply give ourselves new target to reach, completely invalidating our previous marks.

      Thanks for your insight 🙂


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