Happiness is a state of the mind characterized by upbeat or pleasing emotions that range from being contented to extreme joy. An array of psychological, biological, philosophical and religious approaches is employed to define the state of happiness and to make out its sources. The most common sources of happiness are accomplishments like realizing tangible results, engaging in exciting but challenging activities, attaching meaning to something big, pleasure arising from tasty foods, and fulfilling relationships. My happiest instant was when I managed to scale to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. It was a charitable mission and our intention was to raise one million dollars to help fight hunger and alleviate suffering.                 

It was an exciting experience when I joined a group of twelve tourists on a mission to conquer Africa’s highest mountain. Prior to the journey, a team of trainers had taken us through a rigorous program to prepare for the challenge that lay ahead. We endured six hours each day doing physical exercises, preparing mentally, and encouraging each other. On the eve of the attempt, I could hardly sleep as I kept on tossing in my bed, excitement building up by the minute. I had fallen asleep very late. As a result, I was still feeling sleepy when I got up, but very excited about the experience ahead. On the appointed day, we had our bags packed and had prepared all the necessary equipment. Despite the intensive training that we had gone through, nothing could have prepared us for the challenge. We realized that we needed assistance right from the start. My rucksack was too heavy for me to carry, and needed the services of a porter. A couple of dashing beauties assisted us, and I was impressed by their strength and resilience. Along the way, they explained to us why they took up such a challenging job. Lack of job opportunities and biting poverty were the main reasons for taking up this daunting task.                                    

We took the path commonly used by climbers. Along the winding paths, we trudged on, not sure, whether we could make it to the top. We climbed in a single file to eliminate chances of one of us getting lost. Whenever a member felt exhausted and wanted to rest, we all had to stop and give the person a chance to rest and recoup his or her energy. Apart from a few scattered clouds on the eastern horizon, the sky was azure. At least the weather was favorable, and we expected our climb to be incident free.                                                                                            

At noon, we all took a chance to rest and take our lunch. We narrated our experiences and encouraged one another to remain focused. Some of our group members were too exhausted to trudge on, and had to quit the climb. It must have been a big disappointment to them, I thought. With each passing moment, every part of my body ached. However, I kept pushing on, with the ultimate prize in sight.  

Finally, I could see the peak. Standing at over five thousand meters, this was Africa’s highest point. I heaved a sigh of relief as I savored the moment. Tears welled in my eyes, as I drank from the best scenery I have ever seen in my life. I could not help thinking about the creativity of the Supreme Being who made all this beauty. Even though I was exhausted and every muscle within me ached, I was enjoying the moment. Until this day, that journey remains one of the happiest experiences of my life. At last, I understood what happiness is. It is a state of the mind characterized by upbeat or pleasing emotions ranging from contentment to extreme joy.        

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