We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are; not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life; not in avoiding pain, but in being pain when it is necessary to do so. Too large an order? Too hard? On the contrary, it is the easy way.
Marriage is a firm bonding based on love, passion and sexual desire. Each equally important in its own sphere as we know that life should have a complete balance of love and commitment. Marriage is an ultimate commitment of life to peruse the natural way to attain happiness.
Psychologists have used several models including bio psychosocial and PERMA models to explain happiness suggesting that happiness is attained when our biological, psychological and sociological needs are met or when there is pleasure (bodily for instance), engagement (in some activity for instance), relationships, meaning (for instance purpose of life) and accomplishments. These models suggest that happiness involves something deeper than just our fleeting pleasures. I would differ and suggest that happiness being extremely subjective, some people may just be happy attaining pleasures whereas some others would seek meaning or possibly accomplishments and relationships. So the level or type of attainment that makes one happy would vary from one person to another.
This is a first shot at defining happiness. Before continuing further and addressing the logical questions that result from this, I would like to stop here and ask you what you think about this “preliminary” definition. Do you spot any flaws in thinking? Did I miss out anything important? I would love to hear your thoughts.
What is happiness? Different people have different experiences. In my opinion, happiness is a feeling, a feeling of inner peace and contentment, is the soul’s experience with no-worries, fears, dreamless and other complicated thinking. When we did what we like to do, or have won and obtain valuable things we think, we will feel very happy. Happiness appears to be results of â€oa good thingâ€?, in fact it is an inner feeling triggered by external circumstances.
Happiness has become a common discussion topic in popular culture, especially in the Western world. Many studies have undertaken to demystify the factors involved in happiness. The following describes related research.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges wrote scathingly on the social dangers of “positive psychology“, both in his column for Truthdig and, more extensively, in his 2009 book Empire of Illusion. Hedges stated corporations appeal to “positive psychology” to force employees to be happy at all times. In a similar vein, Hedges is critical of “positive psychology’s” law of attraction. However, while popular in media and business, psychologists generally do not take seriously the notions of permanent happiness and law of attraction.
Others may just want to work on thinking and speaking more positively, and then there are those who feel that happiness stems from meditating, getting into a relaxed state regularly. There are numerous ways we can reach this space we call happiness.
In the article ” Finding Happiness after Harvard” George Vaillant concluded a study on what aspects of life are important for “successful living”. In the 1940s, Arlie Bock, while in charge of the Harvard Health Services, started a study, selecting 268 Harvard students from graduating classes of 1942, ’43, and ‘4He sought to identify the aspects of life contributing to “successful living”. In 1967, the psychiatrist George Vaillant continued the study, undertaking follow-up interviews to gauge the lives of many of the students. In 2000, Vaillant again interviewed these students as to their progress in life. Vaillant observed: health, close relationships, and how participants dealt with their troubles. Vaillant found a key aspect to successful living is healthy and strong relationships.
Just reading your hub on Happiness makes me happy! I share your belief that sometimes you have to work at happiness by forgetting some bad things and concentrating on the good. You’ve given some wonderful examples of happiness in your photo collection, and proven that happiness can come from many different sources. Great hub!
An emotionally stable (the opposite of Neurotic) personality correlates well with happiness. Not only does emotional stability make one less prone to negative emotions, it also predicts higher social intelligence – which helps to manage relationships with others (an important part of being happy, discussed below).
Vincent, let me share with you something I have learned. A few months ago I’ve realized that the love that had founded me – all of them – were contaminated with viruses and parasites causing sorrows of all sorts. So I’ve decided to leave my comfort zone and search for the love – if that is what they call pure happiness – I want and need. I have literally interviewed seven possible candidates before I’ve met Mr. B. He passed the first test, the second, third, forth and so forth…. He is an achiever per excellence; by now I have no choice but to call him The Dux. And let me tell you, I am surprised. I knew men like him exists, but I thought they were not meant for me.
The challenge with defining happiness, however, is that the physical constellations and processes that occur in the brain are a “black box” for us. Today, our knowledge about the brain is very limited, and we are far from stating the exact happenings in the brain that could be considered as happiness. Although we have some knowledge of emotional centres in the brain and their functions, we are far away from describing what exactly happens when we are “happy” (which is also tightly linked with being “conscious”, another term that will be left to the future to define).
Martin Seligman writes: “Unlike money, which has at most a small effect, marriage is robustly related to happiness…. In my opinion, the jury is still out on what causes the proven fact married people are happier than unmarried people.” (pp. 55–56). Married persons report higher levels of happiness and well being than single folks. Other data has shown a spouse’s happiness depends on the happiness of their partner. When asked, spouses reported similar happiness levels to each other. The data also shows the spouses’ happiness level fluctuates similarly to one another. If the husband is having a bad week, the wife will similarly report she had a bad week. There is also little data on alternatives like Polyamory, although one study stated wife order in polygyny did not have a substantial effect on life or marital satisfaction over all. This study also found younger wives were happier than older wives. On the other hand, at least one large study in Germany found no difference in happiness between married and unmarried people. Studies have shown that married couples are consistently happier and more satisfied with their life than those who are single. Some researching findings have indicated that marriage is the only real significant bottom-up predictor of life satisfaction for men and women and those people who have a higher life satisfaction prior to marriage, tend to have a happier marriage. Surprisingly, there has been a steady decline in the positive relationship between marriage and well-being in the United States since the 1970s. This decline is due to women reporting being less happy than previously before and single men reporting being happier than previously before. A two-factor theory of love was developed by Barnes and Sternberg. This theory is composed of two components: passionate love and companionate love. Passionate love is considered to be an intense longing for a loved one. This love is often experienced through joy and sexual fulfillment, or even through rejection. On the other hand, companionate love is associated with affection, friendship and commitment. Both passionate and companionate love are the foundations for every variety of love that one may experience.
Nicely done, Martie…the search for happiness is a lifelong task for so many because, as your verse points out, it is either something in the past to be remembered or something in the future to be attained. Sadly, they never define it as you so masterfully have in “the present”. If we are to know that we are happy, then we must be able to describe it and know what drives it. Then and only then can we recognize it….your poem speaks volumes on the subject. Nice work! WB
There could be several reactions to happiness and this could range from smiling to engaging in rigorous physical activity as happiness could mean a sudden surge in energy levels. People who engage in physical activity are more likely to be happy due to improved blood circulation and general good health. However happiness being an extremely subjective emotional state, in order to feel genuinely happy, some achievement in terms of long term goals such as love or conjugal life, wealth, spiritual liberation, or professional achievement could help a person to attain a continued happy state of mind. This is the prolonged state of happiness that has causes similar to any transient state of happiness although the effects could be long lasting. The people who have a prolonged state of happiness are generally lively, sporty, fun loving and optimistic. A child may show a prolonged state of happiness when adequate care and love are provided by their parents or carers. However transient states of happiness are more common as prolonged states of happiness could be interrupted by adverse life events so momentary joys and pleasures provide us with reassurance to accept and embrace life.
It’s about our frame of reference. It depends upon who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. It’s about who we grew up with, who we choose to spend our life with, who we choose as friends…who we mirror and who mirrors us. Have you ever looked in the three way mirror in a department store dressing room and noticed that there seem to be mirrors, upon mirrors, upon mirrors, going on seemingly to infinity? Isn’t it interesting the way the first mirrors create what seems to be an exponential increase of other mirrors? That’s the way that mirroring happiness works. Have you ever been in a bad mood and then stepped into an elevator and met someone who tells you they like your sandals or holds the door for you, and then felt a little uplifted by their brighter mood? That’s because they have mirrored happiness to you. Happiness can be contagious if you allow it.
A lot has been written about happiness and from psychology to philosophy, different theories of happiness have focused on issues of satisfaction, contentment, and even spiritual liberation. But happiness is one of the most subjective mental states and several factors could be at play when a person is truly happy. Whereas anger or fear could be defined with physical reactions and certain behavioural patterns, this is not so for happiness and that is how happiness is extremely subjective. For example one bar of chocolate could make one child happy whereas another child would want two chocolate bars to feel truly happy.
Throughout the ages linguistic scientists have searched for a formula for happiness and love without success and to this day there still is no definite formula. Advertising agencies and copywriters were sharp enough to see the gap to create false happiness by creating tangible products of high value to fill the gap.
The need fulfilment or attainment that triggers happiness could be biological such as bodily pleasures as when we quench our thirst, satisfy physical desires etc. The attainment could be social when we form relationships and feel happy or simply talk to strangers at a large event or remain engaged in social activity, or the attainment could be spiritual when we seek and even find some kind of spiritual liberation. The attainment or need fulfilment could be psychological when our love needs are fulfilled or when we reach our goals or fulfil our ambitions. The biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of attainment could provide happiness according to their needs. Thus happiness is intricately tied to our specific needs although these needs could be interrelated as for example the need for status or power could be both social and psychological.
Rewards: Happiness comes from rewards as well. They can be simple things. You find a great bargain on something you been wanting. Maybe someone offers you a simple item of interest. You do a task and are complimented on it by someone else or yourself. Even finding a coin on the sidewalk can give you a “Reward” feeling that can bring happiness to you.