balance / Happiness / journey / life

The State of Being Happy vs Happiness – Those Who Walk Away From Omelas

Happiness can be so relative, it’s a matter of perspective. The world was changing and suddenly the meaning of life was much more significant. People did not take their futures for granted and they followed their hearts.

Unfortunately, this world is not equipped to sustain the longevity of being happy, in its purest form.

The idea of happiness is observed through a kaleidoscope of lenses and judged on the outcome of events. The state of being happy is not mutually exclusive and must be accompanied by a series of expectations and consequences. Ultimately, happiness is not a feeling but rather results driven.

Ironically, I taught The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas at Governor’s School, a gifted and talented program. It was a Philosophy & Ethics class.

  • When the story opens, the people of Omelas—a place of unimaginable happiness—are celebrating the annual Summer Festival.
  • Underneath the city, a child has been locked away and forced to live in misery. Omelas’s happiness is contingent upon the suffering of this one child.
  • Sooner or later, every citizen of Omelas learns of the child’s existence. Horrified, some people walk away, into the darkness, from Omelas, never to return. (source:

Author, Ursula K. Le Guin, never tells us explicitly what utopia looks like, but implies the possibilities of a utopic society free from the necessity of laws and guidelines, where people are free to do what makes them happy. More importantly, she leaves us covered with a wet blanket of not only a suffering child, but the idea that happiness cannot exist without the concept of suffering, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

The Ying and the Yang. A God and A Devil. Sin and Grace. Aristotle’s action and passion.

For hundreds of years man has pondered the beauty and cruelty of the duality of human nature.

It all comes down to:

How do you define the state of being happy? And, is it different than happiness?

(your thoughts are welcomed…)

As I write this, I find myself sobering up to the reality that I must rewrite my future and what being happy will look like. I will give up on “fantasies” and focus on concrete responsibilities that demand my full attention… and rightly so. Omelas is a short story, it is not a city I can locate on a map. There are no simple answers or fix alls that remedy all the challenges of the world. I cannot control everything that happens, but I can control how I choose to respond.

Perhaps, just maybe, the state of being happy is being free and happiness is dependent on how I freely make my choices.

xoxo Annie

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

“Focus…Focus on the light in the darkness. Focus on the joys in the pain. Focus on the strength in the weakness. Life’s totality is duality. All bad ain’t bad and some good will come with pain. The suffering comes from what we choose to focus on. Feel. Process. Release. And then… Focus.”
― Kierra C.T. Banks

8 thoughts on “The State of Being Happy vs Happiness – Those Who Walk Away From Omelas

    • Thank you… consider a mother or father willing to give up being happy for their children because when their children are happy it brings them happiness. Maybe the word I am looking for is sacrifice. Either way, do those who walk away from Omelas sacrifice their happiness for the suffering child, thus only perpetuating more suffering. Somewhat of a tongue twister! Thanks for your thoughts! 😉 Annie

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was definitely an evolving post that morphed as I wrote it. (Amazing how writing does that to you) I will have to check out “The Flies”… I love these short pieces that make you think and do not think for you… thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s