What is happiness?
Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. … Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness.
In the 21st century, I would say it is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.
By definition, happiness sounds simple and achievable, why then is happiness so elusive and a quest that consumes us? Is there a happily ever after?
“The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.”
In order to understand the how of happiness, one needs to look at the physiology of happiness.
There are four hormones which determine a person’s happiness.
When we exercise, the body releases endorphins. The name Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine.” We then begin to enjoy exercising because these endorphins make us happy. This hormone helps the body cope with the pain of exercising. Laughter is another good way of generating endorphins. 30 minutes of exercise a day, watching or reading funny stuff will provide you with a daily dose of endorphins.
In our journey of life, when we accomplish little or big tasks, the body releases various levels of dopamine. When we get acknowledged or appreciated for our work, the body releases dopamine.
Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven behaviour and pleasure seeking. That’s why people like to see likes to their posts on social media. Dopamine is one of the reasons shopping makes us happy. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal and achieve it.
Serotonin is released when we act in a way that benefits others. When we transcend ourselves and give back to others or to nature or to the society, the body releases Serotonin. Any community work or charity work will generate serotonin.
To increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning, and accomplishment. Being able to say “I did it!” will reinforce that will reinforce self-esteem, make you less insecure, and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin.
Sometimes called the “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding and increasing trust and loyalty. In some studies, high levels of oxytocin have been correlated with romantic attachment. In a cyber world, where we are often “alone together” on our digital devices, it is more important than ever to maintain face-to-face intimate human bonds and “tribal” connections within your community.
If you don’t have another human being to offer you affection and increase oxytocin your favourite pet can also do the trick.
Here are four simple and practical tips on your path to a happy life:
Service not Status
An attitude of service not what can I get or what do I want. Remember no one cares about your first world problems.
Stop Competing and Comparing
Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge either; you have no idea what their journey is about. Dance to the beat of your own drums.
Success depends on your attitude, happiness depends on your gratitude. Count your blessings.
My husband told me about this after attending a workshop nearly thirty years ago. It worked then and it works well even now. I have a simple affirmation – “I am alive, I am well and I feel great.”
When we are happy, we are in a much better position to deal with whatever life throws at us. Our biological design is generous and we have in us to trigger the release of the aforementioned hormones to keep us grounded and content.