All people strive to attain happiness, yet different people have different definitions of what it is. The majority of individuals often refer to their current mood or a broader sense of how they feel about life in general when they discuss what happiness really is.
The emotions of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment are all indicators of happiness. Although there are many distinct definitions of happiness, it is frequently said to involve joyful feelings and a sense of fulfilment in one’s life.
Since the term “happiness” has such a broad definition, psychologists and other social scientists prefer to refer to this emotional state as “subjective well-being”. It primarily focuses on how a person feels about their current situation in life.
Types of Happiness
There are many diverse perspectives on what happiness is. For instance, Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, distinguished between two types of happiness: hedonic and eudemonia.
Hedonic: Pleasure is the source of hedonic happiness. It is frequently linked to following one’s instincts, taking care of oneself, achieving goals, having fun, and feeling content. This kind of happiness relies on instant gratification and materialism.
Eudemonia: This kind of happiness results from desiring goodness and significance. Having a sense of purpose and value in life is a crucial aspect of eudemonic well-being. It is more frequently linked to carrying out obligations, making long-term investments, caring for the welfare of others, and upholding personal principles.
In psychological literature, hedonic and eudemonia are more frequently referred to as pleasure and meaning, respectively. Psychologists have more recently advocated the addition of a third factor, which is related to engagement. These are sentiments of dedication and involvement in several facets of life. According to research, people who are content with their lives tend to score higher than average on both eudemonic and hedonic life satisfaction scales.
The Pursuit of Happiness
It has long been understood that happiness is essential to one’s health and well-being. The American Declaration of Independence lists the “pursuit of happiness” as an unalienable right. But throughout time, our perception of what makes us happy has changed. A variety of hypotheses have been put up by psychologists to explain how humans desire and feel happiness. These hypotheses comprise:
- Maslow’s Theory of Motivation
According to the hierarchy of needs, humans are driven to seek out ever-more complicated wants. People are then motivated by greater psychological and emotional demands once their basic requirements have been met. The need for self-actualization, or the need to realise one’s full potential, is at the top of the hierarchy. The idea also emphasises the significance of transcendent moments or peak experiences when a person feels profound insight, joy, and happiness.
- Positive Psychology
Positive psychology is centred on the pursuit of happiness. Positive psychologists are interested in finding strategies to promote optimism and assist people in leading better, more fulfilling lives. The field aims to identify ways to assist individuals, groups, and societies in improving positive emotions and achieving more pleasure rather than concentrating on mental disorders.
The concept of happiness can be different for each person, as it is subjective and can depend on individual circumstances and values. Some people may find happiness through their relationships, work, hobbies or other activities that bring them joy and fulfilment. Others may find happiness through personal growth, self – improvement, and the achievement of their goals. Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness is about finding what brings meaning and satisfaction to your life and working to achieve it.
Culture & Happiness
It is obvious that your happiness may vary depending on where you reside in the world. American happiness increased when individuals around them experienced happiness, Australian happiness increased while recalling good experiences, and South Korean happiness increased when participating in collectivistic and spiritual activities. The British cherished positive change.
How to be Happier
- Exercise: According to a systematic research, exercising for even 10 minutes a day (or one day per week) can significantly increase emotions of happiness.
- Practice gratitude: Taking a moment to think about what you have to be thankful for, such as a roof over your head, your closest friend, or your dog, can help you feel better and reduce stress.
- Smiling: It was found in one study that smiling actually boost participants’ emotions of happiness. Another option is to indulge in laughing yoga, which involves using breath work to elicit laughter and has the ability to lessen anxiety and despair.
- Deep breathing: Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, encourages relaxation and may even help the body produce less of the stress hormone cortisol.
The fact that happiness is ever-changing and that you may always raise your happiness metre is the recurring theme. If you truly want to find happiness, surround yourself with positive people and try to look beyond your immediate situation to the wider picture—both in terms of other people and your role in the universe—instead of dwelling on the negative.