Pearson Adult Learning Centre

Brad's Teacher Writing January 29, 2000

Other Teacher Writing:


A Complex Happiness

     Happiness is an emotion, which at first seems simple, but on reflection is quite complex. Americans have the “right” to happiness as part of their constitution; I find this difficult to understand because what makes us happy is so varied. To be happy is a fleeting thing, which we enjoy so much we often want it back as soon as possible. I was happy, years ago, to read to my son from novels of adventure and intrigue. We would sit on the couch together, my son gazing off into the distance, imagining the places and the people who inhabited those books. Happiness was a physical thing then, characterized by a shared experience that existed only in our minds. Often, people argue that to understand happiness, we must know sadness as well. To be unhappy, and in deep sorrow, is an emotion that helps us to know the value of the happiness we have experienced. Happiness is a kind of treasure, then, that we hold in our hearts to save ourselves from being pierced too deeply by sorrow. We remember the good things, the happy things, to protect ourselves from pain. This is how I can still sit with my friend (who died recently), together again on a high mountain, with the wind in our hair, the valley stretched out before us, and sing with the happiness we shared. We all, I think, want to be happy. Or at least we wish to have some memory of happiness that we carry in our hearts. A complex thing it is, this happiness.

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