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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Taking Toga’s Temperature: What does happiness mean to you? 

Emily Wu

Different things make different people happy.

Editor’s Note: Sources’ answers have been lightly edited for clarity in some cases.

Happiness: It’s something we see as good and something we want to have. The Oxford Language Dictionary simply defines it as “a state of emotional well-being,” but what does that really mean? Happiness is an abstract and arbitrary concept; each person views happiness and success differently depending on their personal values, goals and lifestyles. The Falcon asked 10 randomly selected sources from the school — two students from each grade and two teachers — for their definitions. 

Chemistry teacher Jenny Cahatol: Happiness is being alive

Falcon: Are you happy right now? Why or why not?

Cahatol: I am happy because I am alive. I got into a car accident in February and our car rolled multiple times. I could have died. Before, I had to reach a certain threshold to be happy. But now by just being alive, I’m happy.

Falcon: What is your definition of happiness? What makes you happy?

Cahatol: When the accident happened, I instantly regretted all the times I was selfish and was looking at my phone when I could have been spending quality time with my family. People think if they get what they want, they’re going to be so happy. But at that moment, I realized I’m happy to do laundry for my kids, I’m happy mopping the house to keep my kids healthy and clean and I’m happy to serve them. 

Falcon: Do you have any advice for students on how to maintain happiness throughout their lives?

Cahatol: There are times when I’m filled with insecurities, and if I focus on them, I’m not happy. I feel happiest when I see the needs of others and try to meet their needs. After my accident, many cars stopped on the highway and some people brought us umbrellas, blankets for my two younger ones — three and seven years old — and I just felt so touched that they would care for us even though we were complete strangers. I feel like I’d be happy to be one of those people who meet other people and their needs. 

English 9 and AP English Language and Composition teacher Erick Rector: Happiness depends on the individual goals you set and achieve

Falcon: Are you happy right now? Why or why not?

Rector: Yes. I really enjoy teaching and working with students, and I get to have fun on the weekends. 

Falcon: And what does happiness mean to you?

Rector: I think everybody’s definition of happiness depends on the things that they want. More than anything else, it’s setting goals for yourself and achieving them.

Falcon: What made you happy back in high school? Did this change as you got older?

Rector: Well, one thing that doesn’t change is hanging out with friends. Some of my happiest memories in high school were hanging out with my friends. We didn’t have to do anything special or fun. For me personally, reaching personal records during my senior year in cross country and track were very happy moments. As you get older, you chase different things, but at the end of the day, we want to have a good time hanging out with our friends and family and achieving those goals we set for ourselves.

Falcon: Do you have any advice for students on how to be happy and maintain happiness as they get older?

Rector: Do sports.

Falcon: What about sports makes people happy?

Rector: Well in the words of Legally Blonde film character Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.” Sports also teach you valuable life lessons that you can’t learn otherwise. 

Freshman William Deklich: Happiness is family, friends and fortune

Falcon: Are you happy right now? Why or why not?

Deklich: I’m happy right now. I have good grades, lots of friends and I’m doing a bunch of extracurriculars like VEX Robotics.

Falcon: What’s your definition of happiness? What currently makes you happy?

Deklich: Happiness is when I have a lot of time to do whatever I want and can. My friends, my parents, my brother and what I’m doing right now makes me happy.

Freshman Evelyn Phan: Happiness is not being worried

Falcon: Would you say you are happy right now? Why or why not?

Phan: I think I am moderately happy. I am sometimes and I am not other times.

Falcon: What makes you happy and what makes you unhappy?

Phan: I’m happy being with my friends, reading books and relaxing. I’m unhappy getting a bad grade or doing tedious homework. Can I say MOSAIC? I do not like MOSAIC. It makes me unhappy. Tutorial makes me happy and lunch makes me happy.

Falcon: Is there anything that you need to be happier?

Phan: More self-confidence and also better time management.

Falcon: What would you want from your dream job in the future?

Phan: I’d like to be happy doing my job and not feel like I’m just wasting time. I don’t want to feel like the days are flying by without me living them. Also, I want to be financially stable — not necessarily rich but stable enough so that I can do things I like without having to worry about the consequences for it.

Sophomore Rian Khetani: Happiness is a positive attitude and smiles

Falcon: Are you happy right now? Why or why not?

Khetani: I’m very happy and I wake up every day feeling happy because I like being happy and there’s nothing to be sad about.

Falcon: What does happiness mean to you?

Khetani: Happiness to me can be shown through a smile or a positive attitude, but it also doesn’t have to be. You can be happy within.

Falcon: What currently makes you happy?

Khetani: Food. I like eating, so when I eat a nice meal, I feel happy. And getting a good grade on a test, which I’m sure every student at this school understands.

Falcon: Do you think you are at a stage in life where your younger self would be content?

Khetani: Yeah, as a younger person I always wanted to play sports. So I think I’ve done a good amount. I also always wanted to try new things, and I think I’ve done that as well. 

Sophomore Mahika Jandhyala: Happiness is living in the moment

Falcon: Would you say you are happy right now? Why or why not?

Jandhyala: I’m happy because school is going well. Things are looking good with my friends and everything is just chill and not stressful.

Falcon: What are some things that currently make you happy?

Jandhyala: Listening to music, drawing, talking to my friends and talking to my family. Also — this might be controversial — but sometimes spending time with myself and being alone makes me happy.

Falcon: And what would you define happiness as?

Jandhyala: I think happiness is kind of like when you feel peaceful. I guess a definition is to be not stressed or in a situation where things are going bad. You can just be free to do what you want without feeling judged.

Falcon: What about some future goals? What do you want to do and what do you want from your dream job?

Jandhyala: I want to be happy with my job. Sometimes I see people around me and they don’t seem happy with what they’re doing. I want to find something that I really, really like to do and stick with it for a long time. 

Junior Bryce Lee: Happiness is self-satisfaction

Falcon: Do you think you are happy right now? Why or why not?

Lee: I don’t want to be depressing, but I wouldn’t say that I’m very happy right now. I would say I’m more stressed out. It’s mostly just because junior year is when you have to make a lot of decisions that you feel will impact your life. They probably won’t impact you that much, but you have all these expectations.

Falcon: What do you think you need to be happy?

Lee: I just need to do activities that I want to do rather than activities that I think colleges would want. I’ve always had a problem with trying new things. I always feel it’s more safe to do something I’ve been a part of for a long time, and I feel like I should try something other than that.

Falcon: And what would you say makes you happy? 

Lee: Anything with creation. I’m in the MAP program, and I’ve always wanted to explore and take more media and story writing courses. I feel like we’re in a STEM-heavy school where you’re supposed to memorize formulas, but I think making your own stuff is important too. 

Falcon: What does happiness mean to you?

Lee: ​​I think happiness is about having self-satisfaction. It’s knowing that you did something that you wanted to do and not being disappointed in yourself.

Junior Madison Saville: Happiness is being stress-free and content

Falcon: Would you say you are happy right now? Why or why not?

Saville:  I would because there’s not like that many problems in my life right now, so not that many things that I have to deal with. I’d say, generally, my happiness is based on my stress level.

Falcon: What is your definition of happiness?

Saville: I think it’s just being content with the situation that you’re in and being able to find enjoyment in that.

Senior Nathan Lee: Happiness is being content while seeing that you can still improve

Falcon: Are you happy right now? Why or why not?

Lee: Yeah, I’m pretty happy. I’m a senior and there’s a lot of good things going my way right now.

Falcon: What makes you happy?

Lee: I think my family makes me happy. Waking up and seeing my dog in the morning makes me pretty happy too. The area we live in is pretty beautiful. It makes me happy to see the mountains every day at school.

Falcon: Are you at a stage in life where your younger self would be content?

Lee: Wow. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I got into college, which was a big issue when I was younger since I’m not an academic weapon like most are at this school. I think he my younger self would just be happy with where I am.

Falcon: What is your definition of happiness? What does it mean to you?

Lee: I guess it’s being happy with who you are and where you are, but understanding you can also improve.

Senior Carmen Stephens: Happiness is feeling peaceful and satisfied with your situation

Falcon: Are you happy right now?

Stephens: Yeah, I’m in the second semester of senior year, and it’s sunny today, which is really nice.

Falcon: What makes you happy or what makes you unhappy?

Stephens: I think spending time with people that I love makes me happy. And being outside. I’m unhappy when I’m really hard on myself.

Falcon: How would you define happiness? 

Stephens: I think happiness is feeling a level of peace. Even if nothing’s going to be perfect, just being okay with that and being positive and satisfied with what you have is being happy.

Falcon: Do you think that you are at a place in life where your younger self would be satisfied?

Stephens: Yeah, I do. High school is obviously not easy, and I’ve come a long way. I think my younger self would be proud of that and think “we have such cool friends” and “we’re a cool person.”

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