what does it mean to be happy
Personal Growth

What does it mean to be happy? 3 things I have learned about contentment 

Happiness is something that people strive for. Ever since I was young, I have wanted to be a happy person and live a joyful life. In theory, it can seem easy, but when life brings unexpected struggles, it can throw a wrench in our plans.

When I was younger, I thought about what I wanted my future to look like. I wanted to get a degree, have a good job, get married, make people proud of me, have a nice house and nice things. I thought all of those things would add up to a life full of happiness.

What I have learned is that while those things can add happiness to your life, there are also many things that can take it away.

When I was diagnosed with my chronic illness, I felt like my joy was stolen from me and I didn’t know if I would ever get it back. I didn’t know if I would ever live this happy life that I envisioned for myself. That was such a terrifying feeling. It seemed like my world was crumbling around me, and I started to get into a deep hole that was so hard to get out of.

After years of battling anxiety and depression, I started to learn more about myself and my expectations for life. I knew that I couldn’t change anything that had happened to me, but I could decide how I would navigate the future.

I started to ask: what is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? Am I happy?

You may be going through something difficult and asking yourself these same questions. Happiness can be a weird concept to think about, because it can mean so many different things.

After doing some soul searching, here are a few things I have learned.


You can decide what your idea of happiness is.

According to Merriam-Webster, a couple definitions of “happy” are  “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment” and “expressing, reflecting, or suggestive of happiness.”

I like the words “well-being” and “contentment.” When I think about these concepts, I feel like they can mean different things to each person. Some people are content when living in a big city, others are content when living in a small town. There are so many life paths in the world, and each person has a unique idea of what makes them happy. The world has a million different experiences, which creates a lot of possibility for the pursuit of reaching contentment.

Therefore, take a few moments to think about what makes you happy. Where do you like to live? What do you like to do? What brings you joy? What brings you anxiety?

I moved to San Diego about a year ago, and I live 10 minutes from the beach. I had never lived by the ocean before, and I realized that this is my ideal life. I love going to the water, it brings me so much relaxation. Now I know that this is something that creates happiness for me. Moving across the country was definitely a risk, but it was a necessary risk for me to discover what brings me joy.

When you find out what things make you happy, you can strive to implement them into your life. That way, when life brings you storms and chaos, you can cling to the things that you love to bring you some joy. It may take a while. I am still discovering new things that make me happy, and I want to continue doing that for the rest of my life.

mental health

To look happy is different than to be happy.

I have found that I spend time hoping to make my life look amazing. This is such a normal human feeling, and it is easy to get wrapped up in the desire to give off this vibe that I am thriving 100% of the time.

But, sometimes when my life looks amazing is when I am going through my deepest struggles. I try to remind myself that things can look very different on the outside. That is why we have to give grace to ourselves and others.

I think social media is really fun, and it is a great way to share your life with others and stay connected. I have to remember that I want to be happy on the inside and the outside. I am in charge of creating the life I want, and I have to focus on meeting my own needs.

Life will never be perfect, and contentment is a journey.

I have to remind myself that life is not perfect, and sometimes it is unfair. I’ve spent so much time with my disease asking “Why me? Why did this happen to me?”

There is no real answer to this question. This happened to me, and I cannot control or change it.

I have to let go of the things that I can’t control and focus on the things that I can.

It’s impossible to be happy all of the time. You have to let yourself feel a range of emotions. You are allowed to feel sad, angry, and anxious. You don’t need to make yourself feel guilty fo reacting to the hard things in life.

That’s why contentment is a journey. There are lots of ups and downs. All I can do is focus on what makes me happy and how I can achieve goals that give me the best quality of life. I have to be kind to myself and understand my personal needs.

You have to know yourself and realize that you are unique. Focus on the controllable variables, and create the life that you truly want!

give yourself grace

More from Aubrey Grace

You Deserve to Treat Yourself: 3 Products I Love as a Chronically Ill Person

A self-care journey: 1 skincare brand that I love



  • Catherine Kay

    I struggle with chronic illness as well. I’ve also had more than my share of very bad and horrible things happen in my life. Happiness/contentment is definitely a journey – a hard one. My faith has personally helped, but even that is a very hard journey. Yes, it’s important to focus on the variables that you can make a difference and not stuff that you can’t do anything about. Thank you for your blog on this topic!

  • Katherine McLee

    Happiness so often can feel out of reach as we forget that it’s not a desitnation but a journey! Completely agree! Finding the positives where possible can make such a difference!

  • Catherine Kay

    It’s a real challenge to be joyful/happy battling chronic illness, but I’ve learned to take one day at a time and trust God for the rest. Thank you for this blog post!

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