What defines our happiness?

I just realised something. Something potentially bad. Not sure about it yet.

I’ve made it a habit to label emails that contain good news, or that make me happy for some other reason, with “HAPPY”. After Skyping with my (ex?)-boyfriend and discussing how we are going to separate the items collected in 8.5 years of relationship, I felt the urge to go through my HAPPY email moments to cheer me up.

It truly helps. They cheer me up. Make me realise how good my life is.


There is only ONE email that’s not related to work in there… That’s an email I sent to my mother, with a link to a YouTube movie. A movie showing the aftermath of a fight on our balcony: a bird had been stupid enough to land there, while the cats where outside… I managed to rescue the bird and have 10 minutes worth of cats making the strangest sounds from the inside, begging me to let them out again. Even thinking of the movie makes me smile – our his indoor cats catching a bird, imagine that!

Other than that though, it’s only work related… The email I sent after getting that master studies placement I wanted. The first accepted manuscript. The invitation to give a talk at a big conference. The award of my post-doctoral fellowship. The offer I got to do some teaching. Yes, they all do make me happy.

What I can’t figure out, is what that really means! Does my work define my happiness? Why aren’t there more non-work things in there? Is there nothing else that contributes to my well-being? Or are those things simply communicated through different channels, not through email? I surely hope so, because otherwise I’d definitely have a big problem the moment my career starts going downhill for whatever reason…

Looks like I got some food for thought there…



  1. Hi there, thanks for sharing this and I share your concern as well! After a couple of years I realized I’ve been neglecting my personal life in pursue of my work dreams. now I’m not sure of what my work dreams are anymore and miss having someone by my side. I’m not sure if this is good or bad, or it’s just how you’re feeling now. In the end, everybody needs to find their balance. I hope we are able to find ours! *Hugs*

    1. Thank you so much! It is comforting to realise I’m far from being the only one going through this. In the end, we will find our way 🙂

      *hugs back*

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