What is Happiness? How Can we Attain it?

Updated: Jul 26



Happiness has many meanings all over the world. Generally,there is some consensus that happiness is associated with feelings of joy, satisfaction, and overall fulfillment. When the majority of people speak about their happiness, they are referring to their feelings, this may be in a specific area of life or in a more general sense.

 

Psychologists have pinpointed two main categories that make up the main concept of being happy.


Psychologists have pinpointed two main categories that make up the main concept of being happy.

 

The Balance of Emotions: Every day we experience a wealth of emotions from joy and excitement to disappointment and sadness. Happiness is correlated with more positive emotions in a person’s life than negative.

 

 

Life Satisfaction: This speaks to the overall contentment that you feel in various areas of life like work, relationships, health, and other things. Higher levels of happiness are connected to more contentment in more areas of your life.


Photo of two women smiling and laughing together.
Photo of two women smiling and laughing together.

There are two main ways that you can release more dopamine on a regular basis. Firstly, adding more immediate pleasure into your life, and secondly, creating attainable long-term goals. The Greek philosopher Aristotle identified these two kinds of happy hormone release as hedonic and eudaimonia happiness. Hedonic happiness is derived from instant pleasure. Hedonistic pleasure is very prevalent in current culture with our electronics, coffee, and fast foods. Hedonic happiness, although it provides an immediate blast of pleasure and joy, has a short shelf life that ultimately does not lead to sustained levels of overall happiness. Whereas Eudaimonia happiness, which is the happiness that is derived from seeking virtue and meaning, has been proven to lead to a happier and more content life. Some examples of Eudaimonia happiness include fulfilling responsibilities, investing in long-term goals, concern for the welfare of other people, and living up to personal ideals.


Here are some practical steps that we can take every day to achieve more of both hedonic and eudaimonia happiness.

 

1. Find a Sense of Purpose

There have been so many studies done on how having a sense of purpose can not only increase overall lifesatisfaction but also extend it. Some things you can do to help find a sense of purpose include exploring your passions, engaging, and giving time or money to prosocial and altruistic causes, and working towards stopping injustices around the world.


Photo of a sign that says, “a smile can change someone’s day”. 2
Photo of a sign that says, “a smile can change someone’s day”. 2

2. Show GratitudeIn a recent study, volunteers were split into three groups and asked to write in a journal for 10 to 20 minutes every night before bed. Each control group was told to write about different things. One group wrote about negative events during the day, the other wrote about neutral events and the final group wrote about positive events that they were grateful for. The results showed that people who had written about gratitude had increased positive emotions and overall improved life satisfaction. This implies that we should be adding gratitude into our daily lives as much as possible. Let someone know when they do something kind and thank them for it, keep a gratitude journal, and make an internal note of when you experience something joyful and be grateful for it. These are some of the ways you can sprinkle more gratitude into your life.


Photo of a young girl watching hot air balloons.
Photo of a young girl watching hot air balloons.

3. Get Exercise

Exercise can revolutionize your mind and body connection. After we exercise, there is a release of happy hormones and the positive effect on the body is considerable. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of exercise a day has a positive effect on your overall levels of life satisfaction.


A photo of a young girl walking along a path.
A photo of a young girl walking along a path.

Happiness is something that can be cultivated in anyone’s life with little planning. If we all strive to find ways to help people, our communities, and societies, we can improve the level of positive emotions and achieve greater overall happiness in ourselves and those around us. Happy trails!

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