Just the other morning we were going to the gym when we passed a little girl holding hands with her mother. The girl was happily skipping along. It immediately made Deb ask: Why do little girls skip? And why, as young William says, do little boys walk when they can run?

Obviously, it is because these are expressions of happiness. But it made us stop and think about how we express our happiness once we get to be adults.

Deb: The little girl skipping made me remember that when I was little I used to sing to myself. No particular tune or song, but I would often find myself humming or singing without even realizing I was doing it. Ed says I still do that. The interesting thing is that, even though I didn't have the happiest of childhoods--mother divorced father for cruelty, I was in boarding school from age eight, and so on--there was a happiness inside me that was all mine, untouched by drama or trauma.

Ed: I used to dance with my sister and brother from when I was about 5 years old; we had a whole routine the three of us would do together. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx with a strict and irritated stepmother, yet I was always able to find a place to dance. When I danced I was at my happiest, it took me out of my daily reality and was the way I could really express myself. I was even a dancing teenager on television and won the NYC dance championships when I was 19.

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. -- Helen Keller

It would seem that regardless of emotional and physical hardships there is a place inside each of us that is essentially happy and free--but we have a tendency to ignore this place, to deny our happiness, or to think that being happy is dependent on circumstances or fortune, something outside ourselves.

One night we were walking through Pondicherry, a city in Southern India, stepping carefully to avoid rats and dog poop, when we saw two boys preparing for bed, which was on the hard concrete of the sidewalk. What really struck us was, in spite of their clear hardships, they were laughing loudly and happily. Having more is not always better, especially when your happiness is greater than your material wealth.

In the West we correlate our happiness with economic prosperity. But in Bhutan, a small but beautiful country in the Himalayan mountains squeezed between Northern India and China, they determine their country's wealth by the quantity of Gross National Happiness (or GNH). People's level of happiness serves as a unifying vision for the economic and development plans of the country.

Yet Bhutan is not a materially rich country and life for most people is hard--there were no roads before 1960, they till the high mountain fields with oxen, and certainly most do not have central heating or air conditioning. But their happiness is that deep sense of appreciation and inner contentment. This is seen in their sense of community and caring for one another, and their radiant smiles.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy--because we will always want to have something else or something more. -- Brother David Steindl-Rast

Given the current economic difficulties many of us are now facing, perhaps this is the perfect time to reassess what gives us happiness and how we express it--to reconnect with the inner joy that made us either skip or run when we were younger--for it is easy to forget to be happy.

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. -- M. Scott Peck

So how do you express your happiness? Do write a comment below.

In joy,
Ed and Deb

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.