Having a Realistic Relationship with Happiness

Hanna Maxwell
3 min readJan 23, 2023

Anyone who has ever used Twitter has seen those questions that come up over and over. From the eternal debate about pineapple on pizza to the questions that with time have become too beige to conjure more than a like.

The memorable thing about them is that they generally come up over and over, all over the course of about three days, as though there’s a “Cheesy Questions to Post on Twitter” website where they cut and paste shortcuts to thinking that for some reason get loads of engagement.

The latest question I’ve seen on repeat that’s only a four out of nine on the annoyance scale is, “How do you define Happiness?”Or “What is your relationship with happiness?” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, y’all are building the world you live in, so write all your complaints down on a piece of paper and at the top write, “To-Do List,” because that’s all on you. I see a lot of tripe about being happy all the time and while I understand the sentiment, I can’t wrap my head around a feasible approach.

I spent a good chunk of my life not feeling it and not really looking for it. I think I just had a busy childhood, I never really thought about it. As a long time practitioner of meditation, I had considered happiness a lot. In fact I considered emotions in general with great frequency. I long ago settled on contentment over happiness in general because it’s more practical, more obtainable and more productive, at least for me.

Happiness isn’t as common, it comes in bursts sometimes. It shouldn’t be something one feels often enough that gratitude gets left out of the equation. Realistically, true happiness happens in short spurts and isn’t sustainable for long periods of time.

Real and genuine happiness, the type that can move you to tears, would be the most difficult to maintain. Truth be told, being perpetually happy would be utterly exhausting. It isn’t as difficult to find and maintain contentment.

These days it seems that a lot of people figure that if something doesn’t make them happy, they have to become miserable. For example, consider the way people have been shooting employees of fast food restaurants because their French fries were too cold. Or people throwing hot coffee or hot food in the faces of service employees because the temperature isn’t perfect. It’s that type of ignorant behavior that comes from not learning that contentment is a good middle ground. It can even be insightful.

Covid changed everything, a world that was already tipping really far back in its chair finally went too far. Everything went off kilter and people are starting to try and figure out what balance is again. It isn’t about being on the “right side,” it’s about being “right.” I have to put “right” in quotes since people can’t agree on what the parameters are. For me it just means that you have impartial evidence to support whatever claim you’re making.

It also helps to have an open mind. Open to evidence from all sides of an issue, from sources that aren’t pushing an agenda or being paid off, or both. So, good luck with that.

The point is, don’t be afraid of being wrong, it usually leads to learning something new. If you want to be competitive, compete to be the kindest, most compassionate and most honest.

If you insist on putting the “mental” into “judgmental” judge yourself, not others, everyone has things they need to work on. People say it all the time, “do better,” I say, “do your best.” If you always do your best, no one can say you didn’t.

Also, knowing you’ve done your best is a constant source of contentment.



Hanna Maxwell

Creator of Gorgonzola Journalism, Author, Consultant, Traveler, Polymath, Mystical Maven, Mental Health Muse & Mediator to the Gods, M.H., C.H.T., O.M.D.