What is happiness?

Faculty, staff and students weigh in on how they define happiness — and perhaps more importantly, how to have more of it in our lives.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

Whether it’s college or in the workplace, Indiana State Counseling Center psychologist Melissa Grinslade says she believes stability is the way to create and maintain your well-being.

“Living a balanced life looks different for everyone,” Grinslade said. “We have eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical, occupational, social and spiritual. It is important that we look at each of these areas, because they impact our happiness. We can develop healthy habits in each of these areas that can positively impact our life.”

When your life’s balance or stability is off-kilter, you may feel like you are overwhelmed or depressed. Incorporating habits such as exercise or meditation into your daily routine may improve your sense of contentedness.

However, happiness is not a science. For those who have nothing or want for nothing, happiness is a choice — a way of life.

“Happiness is something that we have to work to cultivate,” Grinslade said. “Every day, we have moments that we can be grateful for and moments that are more difficult. What we choose to focus on is what will make us more content.”

Tradara McLaurine, associate director of career services at the university’s Career Center, has embarked on the “100 Days of Happiness” challenge on Instagram. As a way to find her “peace in the midst of chaos,” she searches every day for something that makes her happy.

“Every day I take a picture of something that made me brought me joy or excitement,” McLaurine said. “I try to find something that makes me feel good and by doing that I am holding myself accountable for my own happiness.”

By focusing on the moments that make her happy, McLaurine proactively constructs her own happy reality. Her positive attitude and cheery personality are infectious. She admits there are moments when she feels her balance is off, but she does not let it control her sense of happiness.

Alyssa Fulton, a junior textiles, apparel and merchandising major from Madison, Ind.

Alyssa Fulton, a junior textiles, apparel and merchandising major from Madison, Ind.

“There is no such thing as living a balanced life,” said McLaurine. “Some of your responsibilities will weigh more than others at some point in your life. The roles you play will change and will throw your balance off. I think you have to make peace with riding the scales. Strive to maintain your happiness even when your circumstances change.”

If you are a full-time student or working professional, you may try to separate your work life from your personal life, she said. The line between these two realms tends to blur when it comes to maintaining your balance and your happiness. McLaurine says she believes it is less about balance and more about being passionate about what you are doing. Finding your passion and where you belong matters in terms of your well-being.

“I left a job because I was unhappy, and it left me unemployed for two months,” McLaurine said. “Now, because I love my job, I do not mind integrating my work and personal life. Knowing that I am helping students and making an impact on future generations is priceless.”

Aaliyah Malibari, a doctoral technology management student

Aaliyah Malibari, a doctoral technology management student

Students, too, seek happiness and determining what it means to them. For some, happiness is could be as simple as getting an A on a test you thought you bombed, finding five dollars in your coat pocket, knowing you will be graduating with a job or finding a surprise curly fry when you ordered regular fries.

“I define happiness by the people I surround myself with and the love is shared between us,” said Alyssa Fulton, a junior textiles, apparel and merchandising major from Madison, Ind.

“Happiness is being satisfied with everything that you have and have

not,” said Aaliyah Malibari, a doctoral technology management student. “I am happy as long as I have my family and my health.”

Erica Garnes, a junior communication major from Avon.

Erica Garnes, a junior communication major from Avon.

“Being able to balance my responsibilities without compromising who I am — that is happiness,” said Erica Garnes, a junior communication major from Avon.

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