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Is to be happy to have someone to love? Kate as part of the RedBalloon Valentines Day Campaign

I just had lunch with a colleague – Kate, a casual celebration of her third year with RedBalloon. A bit of a reminisce and comparing notes on what we think has changed the most since 2008 both within and outside the business.

She posed the question as we walked back… ‘Do you still think you are learning a lot?’ Interesting; that is what I am most excited about – learning. By nature I am curious (one of my strengths in input which means I  love to gather information.)

I answered her ‘The thing that I am reading about and curious about at the moment is ‘what causes happiness?’.

There is much research on such topics. And I am reading academic papers and books discovering such varied opinions on Happiness. I also ask those around me? Lunching with a friend yesterday – I asked ‘why are we happy? Or not?’ He said in his opinion ‘it is a choice that we make. We either choose to be happy or we choose not to be’.

I know I am a very positive person (sometimes painfully so.) But I don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘I’m going to be happy today.’ I go and do my yoga, chat to my children, pat the dog, go to work…. Get on with what ever is planned for the day. (Even when we have a flood in the office – my mood did not change – there was no drama we just looked at the quickest a best ways to get things back on track – and I went home happy.)

As I begin to read and discover the construct of happiness (and I know that there are many more books on the topic). I want to know how one benchmarks happiness? Is one person’s unhappiness another person’s happiness?

I was alarmed to discover Australia does not rank very well in the Happy Planet Index (HPI) in  2006 Australia came 139, by  2009 Australia had jumped to 102 on the list.

I wondered why Australia is not listed as a happier place? Interesting that the pursuit of material goods is not making people happier.

Manfred Kets de Vries: in his INSEAD address deconstructs happiness to be: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

  • What is your definition of happiness?
  • What makes you truly happy?
  • When was the last time you felt deeply happy –or really belly laughed?

I look forward to reading your responses? Maybe I can solicit some support from our marketers and do a survey on happiness?

I’m just curious?


Reader Interactions


  1. Gratitude. Gratitude makes you happy. Eat life and love what you have. My neighbour died a few days ago and even though he was 82 or there abouts he really loved life. Telling stories over the fence and educating my son to tip his hat to ladies. You will be missed dearly Norman but you remind me to embrace my life and be grateful.

  2. Happiness can be defined as many different things by different people.
    How I define happiness is state of mind, as oppose to reaching any end goal.
    In any given situation and environment, one have the ability to achieve happiness.
    Is up to the individual on how much more they need before reach that state.
    Monks meditate and are trained to have no cravings and desires, if you ask them whether they are happy, their answer would definitely be yes.
    Is that the lifestyle you want though? With zero craving and desire?
    That’s for you to decide.

  3. Hi Ken, Thanks for the link to your blog. I agree it is such a big question…. how can one even think of tackling it in a blog. I love the concept that there is no answer – just questions… and via those questions there is much to discover. Life is a journey… of which happiness is one of the many ways of being during that journey.

  4. To me, happiness = good relationships and personal fulfilment.

    What we all most wish for our kids, along with health, is happiness. That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about children being taught emotional intelligence skills. Not all children are fortunate enough to come from a happy, stable home, and each of us have different capacities to model and teach the social and emotional skills children need now and in their future lives. Just one example of a skill is “resilience” and it sounds like you Naomi have this in spades – you gave the example of the flooding of your office, and in your book you also talk about times when things looked pretty bleak. Positive psychology has a lot to offer us in this area – so I am an admirer of Martin Seligman, his work and writing.

    Okay, I am stepping back down off my soap box now …

  5. A great and important question Naomi.

    This is an unfortunately confused topic which often focuses on only part of the equation. After a great deal of thought and research I consider that happiness is a positive emotional state resulting from the experience of meeting our needs, goals and expectations for contentment, connection, contribution and growth. In essence happiness is an emotion which we produce by the way in which we react to (which generally means think about) our life and experiences. It can be both a transient emotion and an enduring state arising from our evaluation of our life. Although it includes other positive emotional states such as joy, pleasure and delight which are largely physiological, happiness is a more cognitive state which is produced by what we focus on and how we evaluate it. Because evaluation is so central, if we have unattainable or unrealistic goals or expectations we will only succeed in making ourselves unhappy. The essence of happiness is therefore determined by our focus and evaluation.

    By learning to direct our focus and evaluate experiences in a positive and helpful manner (i.e. appreciation and meaning) we can succeed in making ourselves happy even in very difficult circumstances. Happiness therefore arises from awareness and appreciation of meeting (but not necessarily having met) our universal human needs (and realistic goals and expectations) relating to contentment, connection, contribution and growth. This is why meditation and most religions teach us to pay attention to and think about the world in a helpful manner.

    Thanks for provoking this discussion.


  1. Tweets that mention Curious about Happiness? | Naomi Simson's Blog -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Naomi Simson, Dexter @ RedBalloon. Dexter @ RedBalloon said: The true definition of Happiness: is a dog's unquestionable devotion. I'm always happy- Madam is Curious about Happiness […]

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