What Makes You Happy?

I was enjoying a cup of coffee one night, while my friend — who was sitting in front of me — was reading the newspaper.

Suddenly, he picked up his camera and excused himself. He met with a friend outside the coffee shop.

When he came back, he sat on the couch beside me and focused the camera to me while asking, “what makes you happy?”

I laughed a loud, shocked laugh.

He continued to take a video even though I refused to answer. I promised to get back to him to answer his question. He did not stop.

It hit me that I don’t really know what makes me happy. And from there, we started talking about happiness and we realized, we aren’t really happy.

While trying to dissect the layers of feelings behind our responses, we talked about different people who already answered the question.

For instance, his friend from the school paper in college, and the friend who dropped by the coffee shop and answered the question inside the bathroom.

He also told me the story about the child he met while he was travelling. They knew the answer.

So we decided to launch a crazy move and went toward the baristas in the coffee shop, who both refused to answer our question because of some rules.

But we were impressed. Off-the-record, we got one of them answering so quick while smiling. His response: his job.

Then back we went to the couch, trying to figure out why we aren’t happy. He told me about how he wants to travel with someone so that he can share the bliss he feels whenever he explores a new destination and share the story behind the beautiful photos he takes.

He’s a photographer, by the way. He showed me a lot of amazing photos, and videos that outline his travels near and far. It was nice, it makes me temporarily happy looking at the beautiful shots.

This same friend asked me two years ago: Masaya ka ba, Claire?

The answer is always hanging on the thin line that separates yes or no.

If I say “yes,” it would be hard for me to explain why. Maybe we just have to take it as it is. No labels and explanations. Well, there are occasional moments of bliss, usually when I am with people I genuinely like and care about.

But given the occasional nature, those things don’t last.

On the contrary, it would sound so negative if I say “no” — I would appear so pessimistic, like someone who just waits for good things to happen.

So I will just let Paulo Coelho explain it:

However much we may reject it, we human beings find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives.

There’s sadism in the way we look at these things, and masochism in our conclusion that we don’t need to know all these in order to be happy and yet we watch other people’s tradgeies and sometimes suffer along with them.

Ah. Those lists that suggest 10 ways to be happy aren’t usually as helpful as they seem.

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