What is Happy?

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Happy is our favorite thing to be. An internal emotion that feels good, brings joy and contentment, and brightens a dull world. By all accounts it is a positive experience, but for some it is difficult to find.

Happiness is a universal pursuit across all cultures around the globe. There are some differences in how each culture defines happiness, but the base emotion is desirable by all.

Defining the Emotion

Happy is often confused with pleasure. While they evoke the same familiar warm and fuzzy feeling, pleasure is a momentary satisfaction from fulfilling wants. Pleasure can make you feel happy in the moment, but lasting happiness is more about fulfilling needs rather than pacifying wants.

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." -- Dalai Lama XIV

What Happiness Feels Like

Feeling happy isn’t an endless euphoria of smiles and laughter. Happiness sometimes elicits noticeable highs in your mood, but those highs are not the only feelings that happiness brings. Happiness brings contentment and peace.

The Science Behind Feeling Happy

Our brains are wired to enjoy happiness. Every pleasurable experience causes a chemical release in the brain that feels good. Over prolonged periods of time, these experiences maintain serotonin levels that make us happier by warding off depression. Low serotonin levels are linked to increased occurrences of depression.

How Genetics Affect Personal Happiness

Our behaviors, including those that affect our happiness, are influenced by our genes and our environment. Genetic factors like a predisposition for optimism or innate resilience directly affect happiness. Environmental factors like our cultural values and upbringing also influence how we define and pursue happiness.

Where Does Happiness Come From?

Happiness is influenced by many different factors. The degree of influence varies by individual, making the key to happiness a moving target and increasingly difficult to define. The factors that affect individual happiness include:

  • Individual Values

  • Social Relationships

  • Self-Love

  • Finances

  • Career

  • Family

  • Physical, Mental and Emotional Health

  • Experiencing Positive Emotions

  • Managing Anxiety and Stress, Negative Emotions

Can You Learn to Be Happy?

Although there are different theories on what happiness is and where it comes from, the bottom line is that individuals can directly influence their own happiness. The trickier part of the equation is figuring out what the secret formula is to creating happiness for each person.

Activities that Give You a Happy Boost

Despite genetic and environmental factors, every person has influence over their own happiness. The common misconception is that we need to do things that feel good to be happy. True happiness takes more discipline. It is a habit that takes consistent effort rather than a fleeting activity to produce pleasure. #JointheJourney #StartHere #FindYourHappy

  1. Journaling and Self-reflection

  2. Meditation and Mindfulness

  3. Acts of Kindness

  4. Practicing Gratitude

Journaling and Self-reflection

Journaling draws the mind to focus on a particular thought. It is a useful tool in processing our emotions through direction. The pen-to-paper action of getting words out of your head is therapeutic on its own.

Add a positive spin by journaling daily about one positive occurrence and you allow your mind to relive the positive experience, doubling the happy hormones and directly elevating your mood in the short term. In the long term, the habit of journaling offers a healthy outlet to process your feelings.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindful meditation is the practice of concentrating on the present. Our minds tend to focus on the past (or sometimes the what ifs in the future) instead of the present we are currently living in. In modern life this is a flaw that holds us back, but evolution says it is part of our DNA.

As a protection for our safety, our minds are programmed to replay past events in an attempt to learn from them. Once upon a time this was important for survival, but today it is mostly keeping us from living.

Mindful meditation draws your focus on the present. You can use mindful meditation to become more aware of your own interactions, to carefully examine your relationships and process your feelings. And, because you are working in the present, you can change the course of your relationships and your life based on what the meditations reveal.

Acts of Kindness

An essential component of building happiness is experiencing regular serotonin releases. Being kind to others is free and provides a healthy outlet that releases the feel good hormones. Plus, your kindness will be rewarded by developing deeper connections with others, feeding your social needs.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a state of being grateful for the positives in your life. While many of us are busy comparing ourselves to others and measuring our success by material things, those that are truly happy have grateful hearts.

Happy people don't necessarily have more money, things, or success. They have found contentment in what they do have instead of focuses on what they don't have.

Why Being Happy is Important

Obvious answers aside [being happy feels good], happiness is an important component of stable mental health. And, the optimistic traits associated with happiness may also be responsible for living longer, achieving more success, and positively influencing others. #ReasonstobeHappy

Happy people stay married longer.

Happy people get better jobs, promotions, and opportunities.

Happy people have more friends.

Happy people are more resilient.

Happy people are healthy.

Happy people are more productive.

Happy people are more creative.

Happy people are better equipped to handle adversity.

Happy people don’t have an easier life, but they have the right tools to handle life with ease.


Recent Posts

See All