Happiness is a long-refuted concept both in philosophy and psychology. It has a number of valid definitions. But regardless how you define it, the experience of happiness in all cultures is the same.
Recent studies found that happiness has a tremendous positive impact on human life. For example, one study suggests that it has a positive impact on academic performance among children. While others suggest that it boosts the immune system, combats stress, combats diseases, and lengthens lives.
But what is happiness? Martin Seligman, a positive psychologist defines happiness as a positive emotion, engagement in positive and productive things, and an instance of finding the true meaning of existence.
But what causes happiness?
Although all cultures around the world experience the same happiness, there are different factors behind this positive emotion. However, different people may have different reasons for being happy.
But the most common reasons for happiness are a financial success, freedom to live one’s passion, and a good relationship with relatives and other people.
However, there are biological factors that cause positive emotion.
4 chemicals that activate happiness
“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical responsible for sending messages between the brain and different nerve cells of the body. Dopamine is produced in three different areas of the brain: the ventral tegmental area (VTA), substantia nigra pars compact, and hypothalamus. These three areas of the brain affect different bodily functions, such as movement, memory, sleep, mood, pleasurable reward, behavior, and cognition.”
“Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that is made in the hypothalamus and is stored and released by the posterior pituitary gland in the brain. When released it produces a feeling of love and satisfaction. It is the primary hormone released during an orgasm and causes new moms to form a loving bond with their babies after birth.”
“Serotonin is a chemical that is manufactured in the body and acts as a neurotransmitter. It is widely believed by the medical community, though, that serotonin is definitely responsible to help regulate our moods, social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual function. Therefore, it has a wide variety of functions that keep humans happy and on track.”
“Endorphins are the body’s very own natural analgesics or painkillers. Endorphins cause a natural feeling of pleasure.”
Although some studies suggest that happiness is predicted by the genetic factor, free will is another powerful force. This means that one can be happy if s/he will choose to.
How can we become happy?
To be happy is sometimes a challenge given the modern-day circumstances. Maintaining it is far more difficult. But happiness is not impossible to achieve. Gretchen Rubin, for example, found 10 ways to be happier. In her article, Rubin outlined 10 actionable ways to enjoy life.
1. Don’t start with profundities.
2. Don’t let the sun go down on anger.
3. Fake it till you feel it.
4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
5. Don’t treat the blues with a treat.
6. Buy some happiness.
7. Don’t insist on the best.
8. Exercise to boost energy.
9. Stop nagging.
10. Take action.
Happiness is within our reach. But sometimes it is too hard to accomplish. The best way to become happy is to listen to your inner voice. Find what makes you feel good and cherish it. As long as you do not cause harm or pain to others, you’re on the right way to be happy.