Everybody is talking about it and everybody wants it. But what exactly is happiness?
According to Cambridge Dictionary, happiness is “the feeling of being pleased or happy”. The Oxford English Dictionary define happiness as “The state of being happy”. The word happy is defined as “Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”.
Well, well, well. Mystery solved. But most of us probably don’t need a definition of happiness to know what it is. We learn early on in our lives that doing something or having something that brings us joy is about happiness. It is a positive emotion and one we all like to experience.
Happiness is subjective, which means that what makes you happy wouldn’t necessarily make someone else happy. It is about feeling that life is good and meaningful.
But there is also the thing about pleasure, which can be related to happiness. Pleasure is not as stable of an emotion as happiness – happiness stay with you longer. Pleasure is more about in-the-moment experiences, like eating chocolate (oh yes, I am one of those), getting a massage, getting a good test score or having sex.
Sometimes happiness in itself can deepen the feelings of pleasure and feelings of pleasure can increase happiness. Or they can work completely separately.
Here are some facts about happiness:
Happiness can improve our physical health: it is linked to lower blood pressure, lower inflammation levels, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and increases the immune system.
Happiness can help you live longer and is linked to experiencing increased levels of well-being and overall quality of life.
Happiness can be increased by social connections: Hanging out with the awesome people you love will make you happier.
Exercising makes your happy-hormones dance in your brain as getting your butt moving will release endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Yay!
Money is important for happiness – at least up to some level. Earning a lot more money than you need can have the opposite effect and increase your stress levels. Having a comfortable amount of money will make you happier.
Happy people focus on the positive in life, even if they have been through hard times.
Happy people practice gratitude: they are thankful for what they have and remind themselves of this every day.
Being happy can be learned.
Happy people are helpful and more likely to volunteer than unhappy people.
Happiness can make you more creative and productive.
Happy people are positive and positivity can be contagious. Happy people try to make others happier.
Happiness works as a buffer against mental illnesses.
How would you define happiness? Do you have other views on how to reach it?
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