Many of the great philosophers have attempted to reply the inquiry: What makes people happy?
World faiths. such as Christianity. have attempted to explicate what makes people happy and how to populate a happy life through religion. the belief in God. by reading Bible. by populating life harmonizing to the moral codification. and by the spiritual philosophy imposed by the church.
The doctrine of Buddhism preaches to its followings how to populate a peaceable and blissful life–which finally leads to “nirvana. ” The Dali Lama has written a bestselling book. “The Art of Happiness” . which explains how to happen felicity as you journey’s through life. It begins by encompassing Buddhism.
In recent old ages. psychological science has developed a new field of survey called positive psychological science. which focuses on the scientific discipline of felicity. Significant research has been conducted in this country. and many first-class books have been written. The high psychologist. Martin Seligman. wrote “Authentic Happiness” and “Learned Optimism” . two popular books that explain how we can better the degree of felicity in our lives felicity in our lives.
So how do we do ourselves happy? And if we are already happy. how do we do ourselves happier? In this article. I’ll provide a definition of felicity. I’ll besides explain what determines our degree of felicity. I’ll besides describe the three waies to happiness. as suggested by Seligman. And I’ll place eight stairss you can take to better your degree of felicity in your life.
Definition of Happiness
What is happiness? Ask different people to specify felicity. and they will supply you with many different definitions. Many people don’t truly cognize what makes them happy. They merely live in a province of automatism with the automatic pilot switch turned on. They cruise along the main road of life ne’er believing about what makes them happy. They ne’er ask what is the significance and intent of their lives. They don’t savour life’s pleasances. they are non socially connected. their lives have no deep significance.
Most positive psychologists define felicity as “subjective-well being. ” Happiness is a subjective province. defined by the person. It is a personal pick. It includes all the pleasant and positive emotions. such as fondness. joy. gratitude. that we experience in a happy province.
Most positive psychologists will besides state you that existent felicity is more than merely a pleasant emotional province. There is besides a cognitive or believing constituent to subjective wellbeing. The happy individual is contented with his/her life. The happy individual besides has significance and intent in his/her life. And the happy individual thinks they are populating the manner that is right for them. This is called “life satisfaction. ”
So. existent felicity is a subjective province in which the individual feels pleasant emotions. such as joy or gratitude. and it is a cognitive province in which the individual thinks they are populating a satisfied life. one with significance and intent.
A assortment of fortunes and events make us happy: falling in love. gaining a publicity or pay addition at work. watching an entertaining baseball game. taking a walk on the beach. winning the lottery.
In portion. a person’s wellbeing is related to their external fortunes. Peoples who are working and have a certain degree of material wealth tend to be much happier than the homeless cat populating under a span. Peoples who are healthy tend to be happier than those enduring from malignant neoplastic disease or other disease. But a person’s wellbeing is besides dependent on how the individual thinks and feels about their life conditions. For case. some people are happy life in poorness. Some people who are enduring from enfeebling unwellness or disease are happier than healthy people. Why is this so?
What determines our degree of felicity?
Positive psychologists. such as Sonja Lyubomirsky. have determined what factors create our felicity. They’ve created the “Happiness Set Point” Theory. It states that three factors determine a person’s felicity: 50 % of our felicity is genetically determined ; 10 % of our felicity is externally determined by societal conditions such as feeling connected to society and economic conditions such as gaining a life ; 40 % is determined by how we think and feel about ourselves and our lives.
The theory suggests that we tend to gravitate to a preset degree of felicity. one that is genetically predetermined. And so. some people have a sensitivity to be happier than others. for a assortment of grounds. Possibly the individual is born an extravert or thinks more optimistically. Possibly the individual is blessed with an artistic endowment to larn to play the guitar. to sing. to compose. to believe creatively.
But this Happiness Set-Point Theory besides suggests that we can alter our degree of felicity. we can better it. increase it. do our lives happier. when we make the determination to go happier. and so take duty for increasing the degree of felicity in our lives.
The Three Paths to Happiness
In his book “Authentic Happiness” . well-respected psychologist. Martin Seligman. has identified three waies to happiness: the pleasant life. the occupied life. and the meaningful life. He suggests that the happiest people lead lives filled pleasance. battle. and significance.
The Path of the Pleasant Life
There is no inquiry that we can happen happiness through pleasance. such as purchasing a new auto or bigger place. buying a new brace of denims or acquiring a massage. taking a summer holiday to the bungalow or a trip to some faraway alien finish.
The individual who walks the way of the pleasant life seeks enjoyment of centripetal pleasances. such as nutrient. sex. stone music. drugs. intoxicant. a joyride on a roller coasters. hot showers the sorts of things that make you go. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. ”
Pleasure as a way to felicity is frequently associated with the pagan. a individual who lives by the axiom “seek pleasance and avoid hurting. ” This type of individual focal points on basking the present. frequently recklessly. and disregarding the future effects of their actions. This type of individual frequently lives on the hedonic treadmill.
The Hedonic Treadmill
When people seek felicity through instant satisfaction and pleasance. they frequently become similar rats on a treadmill. invariably trailing an exciting relationship. large paycheque at work. trip to an alien finish. purchase of a bigger auto. or an intense bang in their leisure clip. like smoking weed. They thrive on changeless freshness and bang seeking.
For a short clip. these people feel pleasance from the new thing or new activity or new individual. But the pleasance is short lived. With the transition of clip. this “emotional high” dims. the sense of felicity evaporates. And so the individual who seeks felicity through hedonistic pleasance must happen and trail a new type of pleasance on the hedonic treadmill. This type of individual is ne’er satisfied. contented. or happy.
Harmonizing to Seligman. hedonistic felicity is fliting. It doesn’t last for a life-time. So the individual must happen ways to prolong the pleasance. He suggests that do the followers:
• Savour the minute. Reflect on the joy. Reminisce the minute. Share the pleasance with others. Pay attending and sharpen your perceptual experience. Take a mental image.
• Be mindful of the context of your experience. Live in the present minute. Focus on the here and now. Practice speculation to increase your heedfulness.
• Space your pleasances. This will antagonize the effects of addiction that reduces pleasance. In other words. seek pleasance on a regular footing. You might happen something pleasant to make each hebdomad. like reading a book. taking a walk. holding sex.
The Path of the Engaged Life
Seligman has defined a 2nd degree of felicity. He refers to it as the “engaged life. ” When a individual follows this way. he/she feels challenged and connected to different facets of life. Work is meaningful. The individual has strong societal supports. such as a close circle of friends. The individual has a loving relationship with a important other. The individual has a religious connexion to a peculiar religion. faith. belief in God or supreme power.
The individual engages in leisure chases that result in a province of flow. a feeling of eternity. in which the individual is so immersed in the leisure activity. that he/she loses all sense of the transition of clip. The individual spends clip at leisure chases that result in a “flow” experience. such as reading. composing. transporting on an interesting conversation. taking exposure. acquisition to play a musical instrument. viing in a athletics like tennis or baseball or hockey or football.
The Path of the Meaningful Life
When the individual follows this way to happiness. he/she is able to exceed themselves. The individual has the ability to look outside themselves and be concerned with the wellbeing of others. the universe outside themselves. The individual is compassionate and empathic. The individual is frequently selfless. seeking the greater good. The individual seeks to work out the societal jobs in their community. society. or the universe. The individual is committed to a cause that it bigger than whose demands and force per unit areas of their ain personal life.
How does a individual find the meaningful life? The individual frequently engages in voluntary work. learning. mentoring. The individual is frequently charitable. assisting those who are less fortunate. in demand of the basic nutrient. shelter. and vesture.
Harmonizing to Seligman. the individual who lives the pleasant life. the occupied life. and the meaningful life is the most happiest.
I would hold with Seligman’s definition of felicity. I have frequently felt felicity through enjoyable chases. such as sex. taking a trip. purchasing a new auto. But these pleasances of disappeared as clip base on ballss. So I’ve had to seek new pleasances.
I have discovered that my sense of felicity is more lasting when I’m engaged in life. When the work I do is non meaningful. I’m frequently bored and non motivated. When I don’ have a loving relationship with a important other. I’ve felt entirely and discontented and unloved. I’ve experienced the most joy when I’m involved in an interesting conversations about interesting subjects. from political relations to start civilization. I’m besides happiest when engage in a province of flow. reading an interesting verse form or short narrative. composing a personal essay or poster to my web log. snarling a cool exposure with my digital SLR camera and so redacting it in Photoshop.
I’ve besides discovered that I feel happiest when I’m with larning something new. geting cognition. And so I’ve made womb-to-tomb larning a personal end. Finally. I’ve discovered that I’m happiest when I’m socially connected to others. such as friends. household. and people at work. run intoing new people.
And sometimes. I’ve felt a deeper significance. non felt as the I’m life in a nihilistic. experiential province. one in which life has no external significance. devoid of joy. empty of future hope. intent and significance. I’ve experienced this deeper significance when I’ve transcended my ain personal concerns. when I’ve moved beyond the demands and wants of my ain private life—and connected with the demands or work outing the jobs of a alien. a friend. a household member. or society.
I’ve discovered that when I help others I feel a deeper significance and a sense of intent. as though I’m making something virtuous. I’ve discovered that when I’m compassionate and empathic to other’s jobs and concerns. I feel happiest. and believe that I am making something genuinely meaningful and purposeful in my life.
For these grounds. I believe that Seligman has the right definition of felicity.
Bettering Your Well-being or Happiness
Many people are happy with their lives. But surveies have shown that we can do ourselves happier. How can we make this? The article “The New Science of Happiness” . published in Time magazine on January 9th 2005. provides eight stairss toward a more hearty life:
Before bedtime. number your approvals. You can maintain a gratitude diary and compose down 5 things in your life for which you are thankful for. You might be thankful for holding a occupation. gaining a paycheque. or for being healthy. free of disease. and so forth. You should rehearse random Acts of the Apostless of kindness. such as smiling at a alien. keeping open a door. giving the homeless individual on the street some of your pocket alteration. Savour life’s flying pleasances and joys. In other words. don’t unrecorded your life in with the automatic pilot switch turned on as you drive down the main road of life. Alternatively inhale the delicious odors. take in the delectation of the beautiful dawn. Find delectation in a passionate buss. keeping custodies. prosecuting in an interesting conversation with a good friend. Most of all live in the minute.
Live in the here and now. Learn to forgive others. Surveies have shown that it takes more energy to remain angry at another individual. than it does to allow travel of our angry ideas and feelings. Surveies have besides shown that when we forgive others. we feel a sense of alleviation and peaceableness. even credence. which can take to contentment. When we remain angry with others. our choler frequently eats us up. It creates emphasis in the head. We can non kip. we focus on seeking retaliation. When we forgive others. we let travel of the choler. and travel on. which allows us to concentrate our attending and energy on those things in life that make us happier. Invest clip and energy in friends. household. and seeking and maintaining a loving relationship with a important other. Surveies have shown that the happiest people are socially connected with others in a meaningful manner. We are nearer to being self-actualized when we have strong. loyal. supportive friendly relationships. when we have close household ties. when we are able to portion or lives with a psyche mate or confidant. warm. positive relationship with another individual.
Take attention of your head and organic structure. Research surveies have shown that holding more energy makes it easier to alter in your life. allows you to bask more of life. such as fittingness or athleticss activities or socialising. Research has besides shown that when you feel energetic. your ego regard additions. Surveies have besides shown the regular exercising releases endorphens. a endocrine that makes you experience good. and it triggers the body’s relaxation response. so you feel more relaxed. You can take attention of your head and organic structure by acquiring adequate remainder and slumber. You can rehearse moderation—don’t over eat. imbibe excessively much intoxicant. or smoke excessively much weed. You can happen quiet clip each twenty-four hours. You can take clip to loosen up. to uncompress. You can foster the psyche by reading meaningful poesy or fiction. or something interesting. You can chew over to loosen up the organic structure and head. and to happen peace and repose. Develop schemes for covering with emphasis and adversity. You might fall in a nine. an association. or a societal support group. You can salvage money for a showery twenty-four hours. You can be after for a future calamity or reverse.
You can develop a backup program. You might happen a doctrine of life that is right for you. such as Buddhism. You might detect religion and belief in God. and go a member of a church. You might gain positive ego talk and usage it. or other get bying techniques that are associated with cognitive behavioural therapy You might larn how to job work outing. The schemes you can utilize to get by with emphasis. trade with adversity. work out jobs are endless. You merely necessitate to detect them. Express gratitude in different ways. When person does something nice. you can state. “thank you. ” Remember a friend’s birthday—give them a card. a gift. take them out for a beer. wish them a happy birthday.
If there’s person who you owe a debt. pay them back. If you see something that gives you pleasure or joy or a sense of grasp. state the individual why you liked it and show your grasp. If you haven’t told a individual you love them. state them. You don’t desire to be haunted by an unanticipated decease of a individual you loved but ne’er told them how much you feel gratitude. You must happen ways to reciprocate. You must besides happen ways to show your gratitude and non anticipate anything in return.
Becoming happier is a personal pick each of us must do for ourselves. Once you decide to go happier. you must happen the felicity that is right for you. You must find what sorts of people. activities. pleasances. chases will do you happier. Then you must take stairss to alter your life and embracing felicity when it knocks on your door.
To go happier. you need to bring forth more positive emotions by prosecuting in chases that result in joy. pleasance. gratitude. familiarity. and so forth.
You must do determinations about life that are “right for you. ” You must populate the life you desire. such as a happening a meaningful occupation or calling. encompassing a peculiar religion and believing in God. happening a important other to portion your life with. prosecuting in leisure chases that challenge and immerse you in a province of “flow” . like reading a good book. playing the piano. or painting a landscape.
You must besides populate up to the outlooks you set for yourself. whether it’s basking your leisure clip or mounting the corporate ladder.
A sense of intent is really of import to happiness. Each of us must happen our ain intent. A intent helps give your life significance.
Research has shown that we are happy when we are turning and developing. when we are larning something new. detecting something delicious. when we are stretching ourselves. mounting Maslow’s hierarchy of demands. seeking to self-actualize. go the best we can be.
We are most happiest in the chase of felicity. non when we achieve it. For case. there is more joy in larning how to play the piano than playing something you have already mastered. In other words. we become happy by plunging ourselves in those chases and people and activities that challenge us. stretch us. necessitate us to use energy and endowment. mold and determine us into something new. When we choose happiness. our lives become like a work of art.
It is the procedure of working at accomplishing the end. non the accomplishment of the end itself. So. if you are composing a memoir. there is more joy and pleasance in composing the narrative of your life than accomplishing the terminal consequence. which is publishing and printing the memoir.
That is how you live a happy life. You make the pick. detect what makes you happy. and prosecute it every twenty-four hours of your life. you work at the procedure. compensate up until the terminal. And so it doesn’t affair. because you don’t truly cognize what will go on after you die. But you’ll know that you’ve lived a worthy life. rich in significance and intent. a life filled with felicity.