Funny, wise and reflective: discover 50 quotes about being happy

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Whether you’re feeling blue or on top of the world: here are 50 writers, including Jane Austen, Marian Keyes and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose words speak to what makes us happy. 

Big happiness, quiet happiness, shout-it-from-the-rooftops happiness, reflective happiness, wry happiness… When it comes to being happy in literature, poetry and plays, it’s an emotion that takes many, many forms. 

With wise words from breakout names such as Akwaeke Emezi, Ocean Vuong and Imogen Crimp, non-fiction philosophy from Susan Cain and Jon Ronson plus legendary reflections from beloved writers including Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Marian Keyes, discover how happiness can be a burn in the carpet or a warm puppy. 

Funny, insightful, wise and true, if you’re feeling down or just want to capture what happiness means to you, these are 50 of Stylist’s favourite quotes from classics, contemporary novels, poetry, plays and beyond. 

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    50 quotes about happiness: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    “I feel a little peculiar around the children. For one thing, they grown. And I see they think me and Nettie and Shug and Albert and Samuel and Harpo and Sofia and Jack and Odessa real old and don’t know much what going on. But I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.”

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  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    50 quotes about happiness: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    “Sometimes she worried that she was too happy… And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.”

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  • Quiet by Susan Cain

    50 quotes about happiness: Quiet by Susan Cain

    “Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.”

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  • Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux

    50 quotes about happiness: Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux

    “One afternoon when he was there, I burned the living-room carpet down to the weft by placing a boiling coffee pot on top of it. I didn’t care. Quite the contrary. I was happy every time I caught sight of the mark as I remembered that afternoon with him.”

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  • The Peanuts Guide To Happiness by Charles M Schulz

    50 quotes about happiness: The Peanuts Guide To Happiness by Charles M Schulz

    “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

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  • Checkmate by Malorie Blackman

    50 quotes about happiness: Checkmate by Malorie Blackman

    “When a chance for real happiness comes by, grab it with both hands and devour it. If it lasts five minutes or five lifetimes, it’s still worth it.”

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  • Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen

    50 quotes about happiness: Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen

    “I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”

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  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    50 quotes about happiness: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    “But you make me happy. It’s living up to being happy that’s the difficult part.”

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  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

    50 quotes about happiness: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

    “There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.”

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  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

    50 quotes about happiness: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

    “I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” 

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  • Peter Pan by JM Barrie

    50 quotes about happiness: Peter Pan by JM Barrie

    “It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.”

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  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    50 quotes about happiness: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    “How about peaches, dear?” murmurs Madame Manec, and Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl. Seconds later, she’s eating wedges of wet sunlight.”

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  • The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera

    50 quotes about happiness: The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera

    “The only relationship that can make both partners happy is one in which sentimentality has no place and neither partner makes any claim on the life and freedom of the other.”

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  • The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    50 quotes about happiness: The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    “If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?”

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  • Henry And June by Anaïs Nin

    50 quotes about happiness: Henry & June by Anaïs Nin

    “What can I do with my happiness? How can I keep it, conceal it, bury it where I may never lose it? I want to kneel as it falls over me like rain, gather it up with lace and silk, and press it over myself again.”

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  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

    50 quotes about happiness: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

    “There is no evidence that we’ve been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.”

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  • A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin

    50 quotes about happiness: A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin

    “Laughter is poison to fear.”

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  • Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

    50 quotes about happiness: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

    “It is the very mark of the spirit of rebellion to crave for happiness in this life.”

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  • The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

    50 quotes about happiness: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

    “I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

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  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    50 quotes about happiness: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    “Sometimes when things are particularly bad, my brain will give me a happy dream.”

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  • Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

    50 quotes about happiness: Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

    “What people don’t understand about feeling such potent sadness is, when it lifts, it really lets you know what happiness means.”

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  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

    50 quotes about happiness: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

    “You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have.”

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  • Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

    50 quotes about happiness: Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

    “That to truly know happiness is to know the fleeting nature of everything, joy, pain, safety and happiness itself.”

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  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

    50 quotes about happiness: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

    “And that sadness is intrinsically part of the fabric of happiness. You can’t have one without the other. Of course, they come in different degrees and quantities. But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.”

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  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

    50 quotes about happiness: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

    “Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.”

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  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    50 quotes about happiness: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    “Just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”

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  • A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp

    50 quotes about happiness: A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp

    “I realized I’d always believed what other people said about me. What he’d said about me. We remember everything other people say about us, I think. Wear a skin made of all those words, so that when we look at ourselves in the mirror, that’s what we see. I was starting to pick that skin away, and I was happy. I liked what I found underneath.”

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  • How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti

    50 quotes about happiness: How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti

    “Perhaps our vision of how life should be is actually no fun at all, and neglects to include the exciting people we have yet to meet, who make the stupid ways life seems to happen, happy after all.”

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  • The Dark Tower by Stephen King

    50 quotes about happiness: The Dark Tower by Stephen King

    “And will I tell you that these three lived happily ever after? I will not, for no one ever does. But there was happiness. And they did live.”

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  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    50 quotes about happiness: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    “What’s the point of doing all that work,” Tesch asks, “if no one sees it?” “It makes me happy. It’s peaceful, spending hours working on it. It doesn’t really matter to me if anyone else sees it.”

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  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

    50 quotes about happiness: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

    “The thing is, I don’t want my sadness to be othered from me just as I don’t want my happiness to be othered. They’re both mine. I made them, dammit.”

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  • Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome

    50 quotes about happiness: Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome

    “People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.”

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  • What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

    50 quotes about happiness: What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

    “The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.”

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  • Weirdos From Another Planet by Bill Watterson

    50 quotes about happiness: Weirdos From Another Planet by Bill Watterson

    “That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!”

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  • Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

    50 quotes about happiness: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

     “That was happiness. Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between.”

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  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    50 quotes about happiness: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    “‘I know my life’s meaningful because’ – and here he stopped, and looked shy, and was silent for a moment before he continued – ‘because I’m a good friend. I love my friends, and I care about them, and I think I make them happy.’ ”

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  • Watermelon by Marian Keyes

    50 quotes about happiness: Watermelon by Marian Keyes

    “When happiness makes a guest appearance in one’s life, it’s important to make the most of it. It may not stay around for long and when it has gone wouldn’t it be terrible to think that all the time one could have been happy was wasted worrying.”

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  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

    50 quotes about happiness: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

    “I found him and he makes me happy. That’s enough for me. Who needs a forever?”

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  • Any Human Heart by William Boyd

    50 quotes about happiness: Any Human Heart by William Boyd

    “I felt truly happy for the first time in years. Such moments should be logged and noted.”

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  • Us by David Nicholls

    50 quotes about happiness: Us by David Nicholls

    “Was it the happiest day of our lives? Probably not, if only because the truly happy days tend not to involve so much organisation, are rarely so public or so expensive. The happy ones sneak up, unexpected.”

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  • A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    50 quotes about happiness: A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    “The mistake,” Sylvie said, “is thinking that love equates with happiness.”

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  • The Collected Stories Of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

    50 quotes about happiness: The Collected Stories Of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

    “The people in your happy memories have to be the same people who want to have you in their own happy memories.”

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  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

    50 quotes about happiness: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

    “Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.”

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  • Emma by Jane Austen

    50 quotes about happiness: Emma by Jane Austen

    “You must be the best judge of your own happiness.”

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  • Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

    50 quotes about happiness: Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

    “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

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  • The Journals Of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

    50 quotes about happiness: The Journals Of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

    “I may never be happy, but tonight I am content.”

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  • The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    50 quotes about happiness: The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    “Name one hero who was happy.”

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  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    50 quotes about happiness: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

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  • Milk And Honey by Rupi Kaur

    50 quotes about happiness: Milk And Honey by Rupi Kaur

    “i have what i have and i am happy i’ve lost what i’ve lost and i am still happy”

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  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

    50 quotes about happiness: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

    “Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”

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Images: courtesy of publishers

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