What does it take to be happy?

For centuries, humanity has been striving for an intangible and elusive asset called happiness. In the 1930s Sigmund Freud claimed: “One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be 'happy' is not included in the plan of 'Creation’.” Wikipedia describes it as “a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”. So, is happiness a satisfaction of needs or spirituality? Is it mysticism or religion? 

Is it when you are free, because you don’t owe anybody anything? Or when you make your first million or perhaps, when you share it with others? Is happiness to be loved or to be with someone you love? Happiness is not far, it is simply a phone call away. 

Is it when you are suddenly in demand or when you sit down alone in silence, after performing to a full house? Is it when a play you’ve produced is sold out years ahead or when you have reached over 1000 likes on your Facebook page? 

Is it about travelling and discovering new lands; or sitting by the window and having your hot cup of tea on a gloomy Sunday afternoon? 

Happiness is to take a sip of water when you are thirsty, and to get a baguette when you feel like eating. Happiness is in little conversations you create with strangers, when you buy a newspaper or your morning coffee on the way to the office. Does happiness lie in human interactions? 

Happiness is in children’s naivety, or in the disappointed face of your husband, who has been cheated on by his lover.
What is happiness? 

"What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree,” insists Freud. 

So is happiness just a fulfillment of desires and dreams? Can it be measured, and be deep or shallow, short or elongated? 

They talk about an “absolute happiness”, the one lasting forever –Oh Lord, how very melancholic...I remember photographing the whalers in Chukotka, and steering a broken boat through the heavy waves of the Bering Sea– happiness was to finally go ashore on a deserted island. A minute later, happiness was to be back on that boat again, which would take you farther away from
the mosquitoes attacking you on the shores. It turns out that happiness is when something ends and something else starts. “If one were to build the house of happiness, the largest space would be the waiting room,” says Jules Renard. Can you transfer happiness onto the image? You can show the joy, sadness, good mood, grief and anger. But how would you reflect happiness, since it is an inner intimate state, which requires a dialogue of souls? 

Perhaps happiness is simply the absence of unhappiness? 

I have been wandering around the world for a long time now in search of the best image; in the ups and downs of meetings and separations, many hours of conversation and minute conflicts, I persistently tried to derive the formula of happiness. Hundreds of people tried with me to answer such a seemingly simple question: 

What is happiness? 

Whalers of Chukotka and gondoliers of Venice, monks of Bhutan and shamansof Baikal, reindeer herders of Yakutia and monks of the Gulag Archipelago, nobody was left indifferent, everyone wanted to be happy. 

So is it a simple“dream comes true”, or is it more about spirituality and mysticism? This is what you and I have to find out... 

Thousands and thousands of kilometersmore, hundreds of people yet to meet ...and as the inscription above the entrance to one ancient monastery says: 

"Wayfarer–there is no road, but you keep on going.” 


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