What is the meaning of happiness? How does it affect our lives? How can it transform our ways of thinking?

The answers are elusive; people spend years searching for “the secret” while others seem to have happiness come naturally to them. So what’s really the key?

Since happiness is a subjective experience, no one but ourselves can fully understand what it means to be happy. But thanks to literature, psychology, and science, we have some good places to start learning how happiness transforms perception.

No man is a failure who is enjoying life – William Faulkner

Happiness is first and foremost, the sign of a life well-lived. Because it doesn’t take grand accolades or achievements to make a truly happy life, it takes an enjoyment of the pure and simple present moment.

Joy comes not through possession or ownership but through a wise and loving heart – Buddha

Likewise, happiness does not necessarily relate to material wealth and accumulation. Some of the happiest people in the world own very little in possessions, while the wealthiest people and nations still experience sadness and disappointment.

Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift – Albert Einstein

A real sense of happiness comes from looking at the universe with a child’s eye, seeking wonder and brilliance in all forms of creation. In other words, happiness becomes less about the “answer” and more about the “search.”

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. – Henri Nouwen

Finally, happiness is a choice. We can’t choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to our circumstances. Another way to think of it is happiness as a journey, not some destination that we have to reach… we can choose the roads on which we travel.