What Exactly is Happiness?

What Exactly is Happiness?

Recently, a good friend of my wife’s shared that she had signed up for a course on happiness, but not just any course. She signed up for the online version of Yale’s Happiness course developed by Professor Laurie Santos. You may have heard of it, as over a million people have signed up for it, making the course the most popular in Yale’s history. The course has been really helpful to her as sadly, she and her husband are dealing with a health trauma in their family. 

But what exactly is happiness? The Greater Good Magazine of Berkeley, California exists to turn scientific research into stories, tips, and tools for a happier life while living in a more compassionate society. When it comes to happiness, they have this to say: “We know happiness when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude.” I think that’s a pretty fair definition. Interestingly, at least to me, Professor Santo’s course at Yale focuses on simple thoughts and simple acts, as “our minds lie to us all the time” so we “mis-want things”. Is it time to move from FOMO (the fear of missing out) to JOMO (the joy of missing out)? Recently while working out, my wife thought of the term, so we looked into it further - sure enough, JOMO is exactly what she thought it was. Being happy with less; less stuff and less “must do’s”.

Professor Santos’ course was initially designed for college students who were so depressed that they were having trouble functioning. According to a survey by the American College Health Association, almost 41% of college students were feeling this way as recently as 2019. An even greater number of students reported feeling overwhelmed and anxious the vast majority of the time. Santos’ course was not designed to be easy, but effective. Students have claimed it is the hardest course they’ve ever taken, given that homework included daily journaling focused on gratitude and required creating daily habits revolving around meditation and exercise. Santos concluded that we can control more of our own happiness than we think and that our life circumstances are not actually the deciding factors. Practicing gratitude was found to significantly improve well-being and healthy habits matter more than anyone might initially imagine.

Over the next few weeks, consider journaling, writing down or even drawing (with coloured pencils if you have them) your reflections and things you are grateful for. I’ve borrowed the idea of drawing your thoughts from the “touchy feely” Personal Creativity in Business Course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

What brings you happiness? How is it different from joy (which we talk about here)? I’d be really happy to hear your thoughts! 

Consider: 

  • Today/this week I’m grateful for (a specific person, a group of people, an experience, something beautiful, …)
  • Today/this week, I realized that I don’t need (person/thing/experience) to be happy
  • Today/this week, something new I learnt was…
  • Today/this week, I stuck with my plan to…

Your reflections don’t need to be perfect, but have some fun with them! 

We also know that pain can limit happiness, whether it’s emotional or physical pain. We’re glad that for many, our products can help with the latter, easing the underlying inflammation that may be contributing to joint or muscle pain. One of my favourite testimonials came from a gentleman who told me, “I just want to say thanks. My wife has fibromyalgia and has been in pain for many years. But since using SierraSil, her pain has gone and she is happy again! It’s like I got the girl I married back!” To be clear, we can’t promise that if the person you love has fibromyalgia or other joint or muscle pain that Sierrasil will be the ticket to happiness. We can and do promise that if they try SierraSil we want them to be happy, with either reduced or eliminated pain, or we will give them their money back - because having happy customers makes us happy, too!


Whether it’s Professor Santos’ course or your own, we hope these thoughts encourage you to seek out and maintain happiness in your life.