What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? What makes us happy? These are questions that people have asked throughout history, and the answer is still not completely clear. However, there are a few things that we do know about it. Research on the topic has found that several factors contribute to our overall level of happiness. In this blog post, we will discuss some of these findings and provide advice on how you can achieve greater levels of it in your life!
What is Happiness?
The first step to achieving happiness is understanding what it is. Happiness is not simply a state of being happy. It is a complex emotion that is made up of several different components, including satisfaction, pleasure, and contentment. What this means is that you can be satisfied with your life without necessarily feeling happy all the time. Similarly, you can feel happy without necessarily being satisfied with your life. Britannica states that:
Happiness, in psychology, is a state of emotional well-being that a person experiences either in a narrow sense, when good things happen in a specific moment, or more broadly, as a positive evaluation of one’s life and accomplishments overall—that is, subjective well-being. Happiness can be distinguished both from negative emotions (such as sadness, fear, and anger) and also from other positive emotions (such as affection, excitement, and interest). This emotion often co-occurs with a specific facial expression: the smile.
A moment can make us experience happiness if it is associated with positive emotions like love, pride, joy, amusement, and enthusiasm. Alternatively, a moment can also make us happy if it is free of negative emotions like sadness, anger, anxiety, and fear. So, happiness is not just about feeling good. It is also about avoiding feeling bad.
Prior to writing this article, I asked my LinkedIn connections what they felt happiness was. The consensus was that it was a state of mind, living in the moment and truly appreciating it, and interestingly, some felt it was a choice.
What Makes us Happy?
There are several things that you can do to increase your level of happiness. One of the most important things is to set realistic goals for yourself. If you set your sights too high, you will likely be disappointed when you don’t reach them. It is important to remember that happiness is not about achieving perfection. Instead, it is about feeling good about yourself and your life.
Another important factor in happiness is social connections. Humans are social creatures, and we need to feel a sense of connection to others in order to be happy. This does not mean that you need to be friends with everyone. But it does mean that you should make an effort to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
You can also increase your happiness by practising gratitude. This means taking the time to appreciate the good things in your life, even if they are small. When you focus on the positive, you will be more likely to experience positive emotions.
Finally, it is important to take care of your physical well-being. This means eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. When your body feels good, your mind will also feel good.
You can see from the points above that happiness is not just about feeling good in the moment. It is also about setting realistic goals, spending time with positive people, and caring for your physical well-being. These are all things that you can control. So, if you want to be happier, start by making some changes in your life!
As you can see from the above, you can actively take steps to improve your happiness, which is why it is a choice. There will, of course, be moments of impromptu happiness in life, moments that bring sheer joy momentarily. For the most part, though, you can influence your own happiness.
What Can Negatively Affect Our Happiness?
Happiness is not just about feeling good. It is also about avoiding feeling bad. So, what can make us feel bad? One of the biggest happiness killers is stress. Stress can come from a number of sources, such as work, family, and relationships. If you are constantly feeling stressed, it will be difficult to feel happy.
Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety can also have a negative impact on happiness. If you are struggling with mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a professional. There are many effective treatments available that can help you to feel better and bring happiness back into your life.
You can also be negatively affected by the people around you. If you spend a lot of time with unhappy people, their negativity will rub off on you. It is essential to surround yourself with positive people who will make you feel good about yourself.
Finally, your physical well-being can also affect your happiness. It will be difficult to feel good if you are not taking care of your body. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are essential.
You can see from the points above that many things can affect your happiness. Some of these things, such as stress and mood disorders, are out of your control but can be helped with some lifestyle changes and seeking assistance from professionals. Others are entirely within your control. You can choose the right foods, people to surround yourself with, exercise and more.
What are Some Evidence-Based Methods to Boost Happiness?
There are several evidence-based methods that you can use to boost your happiness. One of the most effective is what is known as “positive visualization.” This involves picturing yourself in a positive future scenario. For example, if you are trying to achieve a goal, visualize yourself achieving that goal. This will help to increase your motivation and confidence, which will, in turn, increase your chances of achieving the goal.
Another effective method is to keep a “gratitude journal.” This involves taking time each day to write down things you are grateful for. This can be anything from your family and friends to small everyday pleasures. Gratitude journals have been shown to increase happiness and satisfaction with life.
Finally, another method that you can use to boost your happiness is to practice “acts of kindness.” This involves doing things for others without expecting anything in return. Acts of kindness can be as small as holding the door open for someone or giving a compliment. But they can also be bigger acts, such as volunteering your time or donating to a charity.
Professor of happiness Laurie Santos at Yale says:
“I think where we go astray when we’re seeking out happiness is that we have these misconceptions. We think happiness is about achieving accolades. It’s not. We often think happiness is about self-care, treating ourselves, and giving ourselves these luxuries. It’s not. In fact, if anything, it’s about doing nice things for others. That gives you more of a happiness bang for your buck than spending time on yourself.”
Why is it Crucial to Protect Yourself from Unhappy People?
We all know someone that is consistently negative. They complain about their life, job, family, you name it. Being around these types of people can be draining and can actually impact your own happiness. This is because happy people tend to have a “contagious” effect on those around them. So, if you want to protect your happiness, it is important to distance yourself from negative people.
This doesn’t mean that you should cut off all contact with them. But it does mean that you should limit your time around them and try to focus on the positive people in your life.
It is important to protect yourself from unhappy people for a number of reasons. First of all, unhappy people tend to be negative and pessimistic. This can have a contagious effect on your own mood and outlook. Secondly, unhappy people often drain the happiness out of those around them. They can do this by complaining, gossiping, and being generally negative. Finally, unhappy people tend to be less productive and successful than happy people.
This is because happiness leads to increased motivation, creativity, and productivity. So, if you want to be happy and successful, it is important to protect yourself from unhappy people!
Happiness is a choice that we make every day. We can choose to surround ourselves with positive people, set realistic goals, help others and practice gratitude. We can also choose to distance ourselves from negative people. By making these choices, we can increase our happiness and satisfaction with life. What will you choose today?
So, to some, it may be surprising that happiness is fully within your control and that the easiest way to happiness is to live a fulfilling life helping others. Of course, you need to focus on yourself but the fastest route to feeling satisfied and fulfilled is usually by helping others and carrying out random acts of kindness.
I hope this article helped to shed some light on the topic of happiness. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!