I just read this article about a research project in the Netherlands, creating the World Database of Happiness, allegedly a “continuous register of scientific research on subjective appreciation of life”.
The passionate side of me asks: Is it enough to define happiness as “the degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of her/his life as-a-whole favourably”? How clinical for a feeling that can sometimes seem so difficult to attained, and once possessed, can be taken away in the blink of an eye. A feeling that can leave one zinging with ecstasy, sparkling with pleasure, gently glowing with satisfaction, or a mixture of all the above and more.
Then there is the prickly side of me, which points out that if academics, researchers and scientists would just channel their energy and resources into sensible, practical (albeit boring) subjects, such as solving economic, environment, political and social problems, the development of a state of happiness among people and nations might be significantly easier. But then, where does that leave the people who live to complain, who feel a fizzle of delight every time they get to complain about the government, the weather, the cost of life? Aha, a Catch-22 situation…
I guess the only way to understand happiness is to figure out what makes me happy. The randomness of my feelings is surely similar to that of anyone else, even if the cause of my happiness is drastically different.
Right now, Brussels is the source of my happiness, however dismal that may sound. It has been kind to me in this first year. True, there have been moments when it has been slightly bitchy and somewhat obnoxious, but even those moments have forced me to graduate to new levels in life, pushing me brusquely out of that comfort zone, right into the discovery zone, without causing me to disintegrate when I brushed against the panic zone. Brussels is the transition year that I didn’t take, the fresher year in university that never was, the J1 that I missed, the stupid/thoughtless decisions that I never made because they were already made for me but that now I have made them, I feel all the stronger and prepared for the next challenges that life has to throw at me. So yes, for me Brussels is happiness.