Happiness is something that most of us are likely trying to pursue in life, but it can be a very difficult thing to define. We all know the feeling of happiness, but what causes this feeling is very subjective.
Happiness is essentially a feeling of joy, satisfaction and contentment, and often we experience it when we spend time with people that we feel connected with, when we are doing something we love, or when we achieve a goal that we have worked hard for.
In this blog we will explore how each of us can cultivate and nurture the feeling of happiness. We will find out what happiness is, its importance, and how we can increase the feeling in our lives.
What is happiness defined as?
According to the encyclopedia Britannica, happiness 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”.
This definition is relatively broad and alludes to the fact that happiness is a very subjective phenomenon, and is different for everyone. When dopamine and serotonin are released in the body, we often experience the feeling of happiness. However, what triggers the release of these neurotransmitters can be influenced by many things, including our genetics, our environment, our experiences, and our mindset.
Why is happiness important?
Studies have shown that happiness is not only a joyful experience for us but that it is also an important element of overall health. People who have reported themselves as being happy also tend to be more productive and healthier, have better social relationships, and are more successful in both private and professional goals. Overall, being happy generally equates to having a very good quality of life.
How to achieve happiness
As described above, happiness is subjective, and we all feel it differently. But, in general, as humans we are biologically programmed to survive which means that we tend to focus naturally more on problems and danger than on the things that are good in our lives.
Therefore, including strategies in our daily lives that shift our focus more towards positivity will help to increase our happiness levels and achieve overall satisfaction and contentment. This can be achieved with the help of the following steps:
- Practice gratitude & forgiveness: Starting a gratitude journal or just sharing moments you are grateful for with your partner or friend can be really powerful. Forgiving yourself and others can also be a powerful practice for achieving happiness, and for helping you to find inner peace. Check out at this example from Eva Kor!
- Cultivate close relationships: Spending time with the people you love and building a good social network is one of the key elements to living a happy and long life.
- Pursue meaningful goals: Goals that are aligned with your values and interests can help to increase your sense of purpose while contributing to well-being, fulfilment and happiness levels.
- Take time for hobbies: Taking regular time for being in nature, playing sports, or doing whatever it is that you enjoy can also help to increase your overall feeling of happiness.
- Reframe: We all have bad days or things that are just not going right for us. If you are experiencing something like this, ask yourself, can I reframe how I am thinking about it? Ask questions like, what may be a possible benefit of this experience? What is it teaching me? If I looked at it from the perspective of a star, would it really matter? Or will it matter in one year’s time?
- Practice mindfulness: Taking time to be present, observe your surroundings, meditate, engage in breathwork, or just focus on what you are feeling without any judgment is another excellent way to help you to gain perspective and increase your inner peace and happiness levels.
In conclusion, happiness is very subjective, and it is up to everyone to recognise what stimulates the feeling inside of them. Happiness may seem like just a fleeting feeling but, over time, increasing happiness levels in daily life can help you to cultivate a happier life overall.
Now it is up to us to try and implement the above strategies into our daily lives and create a path to happiness that is aligned with our own preferences. During this journey, be aware that what’s wrong is always available, but so is what’s great. Sometimes a little shift in our perspective might be all we need to bring us one step closer to a happier life.
Written by: Beke Hollenbach, Wellness Coach, MIACP
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