Part 1: Happiness is a million little things

Updated: Aug 2

by Bukamuso Sebata

Image by Dr Jim Taylor. Happiness is too broad a concept for it to be defined by just that one event in your life. It constitutes a million little things that we hardly pay attention to.

I have a problem with the phrase: “The happiest day of my life”. It makes me itch like crazy. Personally, I think it suggests a form of dishonesty with oneself, and it is an exaggerated concept of happiness that most people have come to conform to. The phrase is associated with massive events in life like graduating, getting married, the birth of a child or buying your dream car. I say the phrase has a form of dishonesty because there is no way that you can have the happiest day of your life. I feel it suggests that we are the happiest when something huge happens in our lives. It completely disregards the little things that can bring us the most joy.

It creates a highly complex concept of happiness that is almost impossible to attain. We then become so focused on having that “happiest day of my life” moment, we overlook the smallest things that matter because they do not measure up to the idea of happiness we have in our minds. Emotions are way bigger than that; they cannot be compounded into one huge event in your life. Consider the emotion of sadness: it takes the smallest things for you to feel it, and you obsess over those small things until the emotion grows big enough to last a week.

So, why can we not extend the same courtesy to happiness? Especially when we consider the fact that it is a positive emotion that does wonders for our souls. Why can’t every day be “the happiest day of my life”? See, I believe that happiness is the little things that matter, the little things we overlook. I think the concept of happiness is bigger than “the happiest day of my life”. For me, the 19 years that I have lived, and the years to come, are this huge jigsaw puzzle representing happiness.

Metaphorically speaking, my life is this huge canvas labelled happiness, and it is far from being done. It is an imperfect and immature piece of art that I work on daily. I collect the littlest of things that make me smile, that make me feel content, satisfied and good with myself, and I find a place for them in that piece of art. These could be making dinner for myself, singing along to a song in a language that I do not understand, learning something new about myself, seeing my friends smile and being there for them when they need me.

It could be having the energy to work through my assignments, hearing a stranger’s laughter, a call from my mom, getting the best views of campus from anywhere in the library, capturing the best angles of the cathedrals around the town, hanging out with myself and my music or making my bed or making even the slightest progress in any aspect of my life. All these and so much more give me bursts of positive energy throughout the day so that when I decide to call it a day, I have a clear picture of the kind of happiness that I strive for.

These little things make me smile for a second, even when I am having a bad day. And I take them, and I put them in my canvas to fill up the empty spaces left. In this sense, happiness is a collage. I am actively constructing my own concept of happiness, making everyday the "happiest day of my life”. Waiting for one “the happiest day of my life” is tiresome, and chances are, it might not ever get here, so why not create my own daily? And all these million little things that I collect and put in my canvas create what I call happiness. Because happiness is more than just one huge event or day, it is a million little things that happen every day.

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