Influential leaders, from the founding fathers to the Dalai Lama, have agreed that one of the basic tenets underlying any endeavor is the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there is a reason that we refer to it as the pursuit rather than the attainment. Happiness is fleeting, fickle, and precious. This elusiveness means that moments of true happiness often remain affixed in our mind—beautiful and cherished. This also gives happiness a level of complexity rarely discussed in a typical day-to-day context. Luckily, as social creatures, we have refined the ability to share and experience our emotions through various artistic forms of expression.
Poetry is a unique, lyric way for us to communicate, transfer, and feel complex emotions such as happiness. The goal of this article is to provide you with inspiration and emotion via celebrated poems on the topic of happiness. Take inspiration and solace from these poems on happiness and its role in our lives. After each poem, we will offer a few of our own thoughts to help you reflect.
‘Innermost Happiness’ by Ernestine Northover
Let's go find that great blue yonder,
Far away from noise and rush,
A place where one can sit and ponder,
Silently, in a cocoon of hush.
With solitude, to rest one's senses,
Some time to grasp what life's about,
To knock down all those rigid fences,
And let your wildest thoughts fly out.
Allow for all your hopes to wander,
Into dreams that calm the mind,
And use the time in that great blue yonder,
Your innermost happiness to find.
Sometimes, your body already knows what it needs. You just require the time to be alone and process your emotions. The ability to relax, and free our minds from the stresses of the daily grind, is key to mental health in the long run. Ernestine Northover's lyrical poem describes this process in an uplifting, feel-good read.
‘You Need Not Leave Your Room’ by Franz Kafka
You need not leave your room.
Remain seated at your table
and listen. You need not even listen;
simply wait; just be quiet, still, solitary.
The world will freely offer
itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice; it will roll
in ecstasy at your feet.
This exquisite poem by Franz Kafka also delves into the power that calm and contemplation have to usher in a sense of peace and happiness.
‘Such Is the Force of Happiness’ by Emily Dickinson
Such is the Force of Happiness-
The Least-can lift a Ton
Assisted by its stimulus-
No Sinew can afford-
The Cargo of Themselves-
Too infinite for Consciousness'
Happiness has the power to invigorate and motivate you to great feats. Emily Dickinson explains in this short poem that it can help you to 'lift a ton,' and conversely, that discontent can make you feel too heavy to even lift yourself. Happiness is what fuels our desire to live.
‘Happiness’ by Jayne Kenyon
There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Happiness is often not logical or fair. It is instead a state of mind and a style of thought that can occur without warning or reason.
‘Help Yourself to Happiness’ by Helen Steiner Rice
Everybody, everywhere seeks happiness, it's true,
But finding it and keeping it seems difficult to do.
Difficult because we think that happiness is found
Only in the places where wealth and fame abound. And so we go on searching in palaces of pleasure
Seeking recognition and monetary treasure,
Unaware that happiness is just a state of mind
Within the reach of everyone who takes time to be kind.
For in making others happy, we will be happy, too.
For the happiness you give away returns to shine on you.
In the vein of serving others, this Irish Blessing is an uncomplicated, lovely wish for happiness and joy.
Happiness is a feeling that can be attained by placing our focus outside of ourselves rather than by trying to appease base wants. We are communal creatures, and serve both ourselves and others when we act as such.
An Irish Blessing
I wish you health,
I wish you well and happiness galore.
I wish you luck for you and friends.
What could I wish you more?
May your joys be as deep as the oceans,
Your troubles as light as its foam.
And may you find
Sweet peace of mind
Wherever you may roam.
A blessing was said to be bestowed upon the receiver of this dedication. In every culture, in every time and place, there remains the belief in the power of positive thought, for both ourselves and others. Those faced with great tragedy, like the Irish, have long found solace in the positive thoughts that are cultivated within family and community.
‘The Happy Virus’ by Hafiz
I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious -
So kiss me.
Happiness is not ours to control at times. It is playfully referred to as a virus that can strike without warning, and infect those with whom it comes into contact.
‘Lines Depicting Simple Happiness’ by Peter Gizzi
The shine on her buckle took precedence in sun
Her shine, I should say, could take me anywhere
It feels right to be up this close in tight wind
It feels right to notice all the shiny things about you
About you, there is nothing I wouldn't want to know
With you nothing is simple, yet nothing is simpler
About you, many good things come into relation
I think of proofs and grammar, vowel sounds, like
A is for knee socks, E for panties
I is for buttondown, O the blouse you wear
U is for hair clip, and Y your tight skirt
The music picks up again; I am the man I hope to be
The bright air hangs freely near your newly cut hair
It is so easy now to see gravity at work in your face
Easy to understand time, that dark process
To accept it as a beautiful process, your face
Love can cause us to feel great joy, especially when we're caught in the first throes of it, in youth. Yet, love can grow in profundity well beyond outer appearances and young infatuations.
‘Ode to Happiness’ by Keanu Reeves
Half-sentences, half-utterances searching in the past,
grappling, groping, never last.
In my body, in my heart, and in my mind,
but not on my tongue!
And so my song remains unsung.
I draw a hot sorrow bath
In my despair room
With a misery candle burning
I wash my hair with regret shampoo
After cleaning myself with pain soap
I dry myself with my gorgeous white
One hundred percent and it will never change towel
Then smooth on my I don't deserve lotion
And I hate myself face cream
Then I put on my alone again silk pajamas
And go to sleep
When the hue has gone blue
And you can't quite grin and bear it
Let this word picture remind you
It can always be worse.
Depression is probably the best indicator that happiness is lacking in our lives. Life isn't easy, and we don't always allow ourselves the proper time to process loss or tragedy. Keanu Reeves lost many loved ones in his life, and it left a mark on him that made happiness much more difficult to retain. Keanu wrote this poem on a whim for a friend. When she reworked it and sent it back as a gift, he decided to publish it. Published in 2011, only 4000 copies of the book Ode to Happiness were produced. For many, it is a powerful testimony that the facts of our lives need not be the truth of our lives, and happiness need not be lost forever.
Enjoying Life With BetterHelp
Maintaining your mental health and overall happiness sometimes requires talking with someone. You shouldn't feel ashamed to communicate your feelings. Your lack of understanding may cause you to feel alone, but with the right help, you can begin to build a happier future for yourself. Remember, your happiness matters.
Online therapy can be a useful tool for those who have issues with depression, anxiety, or other intrusive thoughts. A study published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry found that internet-based therapy significantly improved symptoms in patients struggling with depression. Participants interacted online with therapists, in addition to completing exercises and lessons, as part of a common counseling method known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Both patients and therapists have reported positive experiences when utilizing online platforms to create CBT treatment plans, in which counseling sessions are supplemented by online resources and access to therapists in a less formal atmosphere.
As mentioned above, online therapy has become a powerful tool for promoting good mental health. BetterHelp provides a powerful platform to connect you with experts and resources that will help you better manage sadness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Oftentimes, depression can make it difficult to interact with others. This is why BetterHelp allows you to reach out to your therapist from the comfort of your home. You can chat—on the phone, by text, or through video—with a licensed counselor about inner peace, happiness, or any other aspect of your mental health. Additionally, BetterHelp’s therapists come from all parts of the country, and even the world. With a more diverse network of counselors than would likely be available with traditional therapy, you have a better chance of working with someone who truly understands your concerns, and can help you manage your symptoms. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues related to pursuing happiness.
"I have come a long way. With the help of Alexis, I have accomplished things I thought I'd never do. I am glad I did this, it has benefited me so much. With the guidance and encouragement of Alexis, I am more confident in myself, and I see a clear path to success and happiness. I have learned to control myself and not doubt myself. It is hard to let go, but I know I will be fine, and if I need it, she will still be here for me. Thank you, Alexis, you have truly helped me change my life. I am so grateful. I wish you the best!"
"I've worked with Jamie for a number of months, and he's helped me with everything that life has thrown my way. Difficulty in work, my relationship, and other stresses that I've struggled to navigate by myself. He listens, and he helps. I always feel validated and supported. He gives me tools and perspectives that have made a big difference in my overall happiness."
Happiness Can Be in Your Future
"Easier said than done," might be your response to one's poem about happiness. Life can be rough, but luckily you don't have to face it alone. You matter, and we want to help. Happiness can be in your future, and licensed therapists and counselors are well qualified to help you gently find your way there.