Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prompt #137 – Happiness is...

Have you ever thought about what happiness is? Hard to define, happiness means different things to each of us, most often based on our experiences. This week’s prompt is a simple one: write a poem about what makes you happy.

Things to Think about Before Writing:

  • Have you experienced moments of exceptional happiness?
  • What are some moments of ordinary happiness (joy in every day people and things) that you’ve experienced?
  • Does happiness have to be a time that “hits the heights,” or does your happiness come in less elaborate trappings (a kind of subjective “well-being”). 
  • Is happiness something actual or can it be a state of mind?
  • The Dalai Lama has said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” What does that mean to you? 
  • Thomas Merton said, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.” How do balance, order, rhythm, and harmony fit your definition of happiness?
  • Have there been times in your life when happiness evolved from unhappiness?
  • How are happiness and gratitude related? Happiness and peace?
  • What does positive thinking have to do with your happiness?
  • How is happiness a composite of enjoyment, engagement, and meaning?


You might try beginning with a list of things that have or do bring you happiness. Develop a list poem or select one “happiness” from your list and write about that. 

Even if you’re not in a particularly “up” mood, go to a good place for this week’s poem (a happy memory, a happy time in your life, a special moment of happiness, a person who has made you happy, a pet that brought or brings you joy, a gift that brought you happiness).

As you write, remember that good poems have two subjects: the topic itself and the meaning of the topic. As you develop these in your poem, watch out for “ing” endings, overuse of adjectives and details, and too many prepositional phrases. Let your poem take you where it wants to go (let it surprise you).

NOTE: There’s one important rule this week: you can’t use the word “happiness” in your title or anywhere within your poem!



  1. BRILLIANT, Adele! So many poets write from the opposite perspective. It's good to have this "happiness reminder!"

  2. Great prompt and great example poems.

  3. death is ever near
    cheating him every morning
    is delightfully fun

    1. So much truth in so few words! Wonderful, Risa—thanks for sharing!

    2. Really nice, Risa. And, yes, delightfully fun!

    3. You're always true to your style, Risa! Thank you for posting. I look forward to reading your poems.

  4. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)February 19, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Brilliant, Adele! We all need to celebrate what's good in our lives and to be grateful!

    1. Thanks, Maire! You're so right! Poetry can be a great "healer" when we're in pain, but it can also be a great way to boost spirits and express, as you put it, "what's good in our lives."

  5. - Don't use the word "happiness", Adele said
    but I'm italian and in my language I can say

    - Felicità, felicità, felicità! -

    1. Fair enough! Such a beautiful word!

    2. Jago, you inspired me to look up “happiness” in other languages. Here’s some of what I found.

      - Afrikaans Language : geluk

      - Albanian Language : lumturi

      - Arabic Language : سعادة

      - Armenian Language : երջանկություն

      - Azerbaijani Language : xoşbəxtlik

      - Basque Language : Sortzen

      - Belarusian Language : шчасце

      - Bulgaria Language : щастие

      - Catalan Language : felicitat

      - Chinese (Simplified) Language : 幸福

      - Chinese (Traditional) Language : 幸福

      - Croatian Language : sreća

      - Czech Language : Å¡tÄ›stÃ

      - Danish Language : lykke

      - Dutch Language : geluk

      - Estonian Language : õnn

      - Filipino Language : kaligayahan

      - Finnish Language : onnellisuus

      - French Language : bonheur

      - Galician Language : felicidade

      - Georgian Language : ბედნიერება

      - German Language : Glück

      - Greek Language : ευτυχία

      - Haitian Creole Language : kontantman

      - Hebrew Language : שמחה

      - Hindi Language : सुख

      - Hungarian Language : boldogság

      - Icelandic Language : hamingja

      - Indonesian Language : kebahagiaan

      - Irish Language : sonas

      - Italian Language : felicitÃ

      - Japanese Language : 幸福

      - Korean Language : 행복

      - Latvian Language : laime

      - Lithuanian Language : laimÄ—

      - Macedonia Language : среќа

      - Malay Language : kebahagiaan

      - Maltese Language : kuntentizza

      - Norwegian Language : lykke

      - Persian Language : شادی

      - Polish Language : szczęście

      - Portugese Language : felicidade

      - Romanian Language : fericire

      - Russian Language : счастье

      - Serbian Language : срећа

      - Slovak Language : Å¡Å¥astie

      - Slovenian Language : sreče

      - Spanish Language : felicidad

      - Swahili Language : furaha

      - Swedish Language : lycka

      - Thai Language : ความสุข

      - Turkish Language : mutluluk

      - Urdu Language : خوشی

      - Vietnamese Language : hạnh phúc

      - Welsh Language : hapusrwydd

    3. Hey, Jamie! That's a lot of happiness!