About Happiness I
Updated: Jan 8
At the beginning of each new year, we say "happy new year" to one another.
What exactly do we mean by saying this? What kind of happiness are we wishing for?
What is happiness?
When I was in the early 20s, I used to think that happiness was something like a "treasure" that I had to dig up from the harsh and barren land. Arduous and persistent works were required to taste a little bit of it. To my young mind, it seemed like the world was just full of injustice and oppression. In that world, I believed that only a handful of people could achieve happiness only for a limited time in their life. No wonder I was not really a happy person back then.
Since I got married, and especially after having two children, in my early 30s my understanding of happiness has changed. I began to realize that happiness was more like a "gift" from the above whenever I managed to have a grateful heart for small things in life. I was just so crazy busy being a full-time graduate student and a part-time pastor. (And you know that what it means to be a part-time pastor: you're paid part-time) In the midst of those busiest years in my life so far, however, I learned that happiness could be suddenly, unexpectedly and gracefully given by a simple smile on the face of my babies. I learned that contentment and gratefulness were the keys to happiness.
And now, I still think that happiness is more like a "gift," which can be found for everyone in every moment, rather than a "treasure," which is allowed only to those who deserve it whatever that means. Being in the 40s, however, nowadays I'm starting to wonder if happiness is more than a free gift. Perhaps because I feel more responsibility to do something good for others as a father, as a pastor, as someone who is not a student anymore.... and just as an adult, I start to realize that happiness is something WE mold together and share together. Happiness is not just about me; it is about us, always.
In this sense, I wonder "mochi (rice cake, dduk in Korean)" could be a good metaphor to explain what happiness is like. In Japanese culture, the word monozukuri signifies a "great joy in making something by hand, creating with much skill, dedication, and precision."* I wonder happiness is something that is formed by our own hands when we cook together and eat together.