Happiness in French: 10 happy thoughts from French-speaking literary masters

Ah happiness… Le bonheur… 

How do we define you? Let us count the ways. 

In celebration of the International Day of Happiness and French Language Day, we decided to consult some of history’s most unforgettable French-speaking authors on what happiness is all about. And they were more than happy to share their thoughts.

Get your dose of inspiration.

“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves—say rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

Les Misérables: Vol. 1 (Hugo, 1862)

“There is no happiness without courage, nor virtue without struggle.”

Émile ou De l'éducation (Rousseau, 1762)

“Happiness is often the only thing one can give without having it and it is by giving it that one acquires it.”

Lettres choisies (Gallimard, 1872)

“Unbroken happiness is a bore: Life should have its ups and downs.”

Les Fourberies de Scapin, Act 3 (Molière, 1671) 

“The secret of happiness is to live like everybody else, while being unlike anyone.”

Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée (de Beauvoir, 1958)

“The greatest adventures take place inside of us.”

Hergé correspondance (Allaert et Bertin, 1989)

“Always keep a patch of sky above you.”

À la recherche du temps perdu, Vol. 1 (Proust, 1913)

“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”

Noces (Camus, 1938)

“If you want to understand the word happiness, you have to understand it as a reward and not as an end.”

 Carnets (Gallimard, 1953)

“One is happy once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.”

Correspondance, 1812-1876, Vol. 5 (Calmann-Lévy, 1883)

How about you? How would you define happiness?