THE BLOG
02/26/2016 12:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

"Happy" Is Not a Lightweight Word

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Too often people dismiss the word "happy" as frivolous. Some think it's a throwaway word, insubstantial and shallow. I happen to think it's an extraordinary word.

Pharrell's song hit a chord, a very loud chord, and not just because it has a great tune. That chord went right to the core of our souls. "Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth." Millions of us clapped along... and danced and sang along. We feel happy while we're singing that song with Pharrell. Isn't that an extraordinary feeling while it lasts? It's a peaceful, joyful, loving lightness, a carefree anything is possible and everything is right with the world attitude all wrapped up in that one word - HAPPY.

Happiness is what we all want and maybe that's why we convince ourselves it's so hard to find and if we do touch upon it, it's fleeting. Instead of understanding what the word happy really means, we devalue it by casting it aside and instead reach for superficial tokens of success, massive wealth, instant gratification, flawless relationships, and perfect jobs. Then, of course, we're never satisfied so we're never happy. We think "happy" doesn't say enough, or mean anything.

If the word is so insignificant, why is everybody looking for it?

Hundreds of books have been written to make us happy, to identify hundreds of things to be happy about, to teach us how to form happy habits, and to help us be happy instantly. There are visible reminders in the hundreds of plaques about happiness that we hang on our walls and stand on our desks and bureaus. There are cards galore that we love to give, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother's Day, even "I Want You to be Happy Day" cards. There's a movie called HAPPY that "explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion." Purportedly there are even foods to make you happier.

The secret is - it's not insignificant. Being happy is a big deal and we all want to feel it more than we want to feel anything else.

That's why a chance at happiness is so precious and so vital for children who are dealing with abandonment and abuse. It's not insignificant at all and it's not a lightweight word in their world or ours. It's a basic desire we all have and we need to respect that simple, modest, unsophisticated word.

The search for happiness goes on. It's what everyone yearns for and that's the truth. It's what we all wish for one another. And it's the one thing every parent really wants for her child. Being happy is more important than being "more substantial" words like wealthy and successful. Yes, we can have all three, but if I had to choose just one for you? I'd choose happy every time.