What Is Happiness?
What does it mean to be happy? What does happiness look like? We’re going to approach this article from a slightly different perspective today. It feels like there is a lot of fluff out there on the internet about happiness. The subject itself isn’t only exhausted, but also comes off a bit… trite.
Problem, of course, is that happiness is kind of the point of life, right? Loving people, enjoying the moment, realizing your goals, and self-actualizing… if you think about it, the point behind all of it is that we want to be happy.
Happiness Is Subjective
Happiness seems pretty straightforward, especially when it comes to standard definitions. However, when you sit down and give it some thought, happiness is incredible subjective.
What will make you happy is so incredibly different than what will make me happy. Plus, is happiness a state, or is it an emotion? Traditionally, to be happy means that you’re in a pleasant state characterized by emotions such as joy, contentment, and even ecstasy.
Point is: We’re all going to experience these emotions in response to different stimulus. Depending on what your conditioning is, your background, your previous experiences, and even your traumas, happiness is different for each and every one of us.
Types Of Happiness
There are a couple specific ideas around happiness that we need to explore to understand the subject more clearly…
Hedonia is essentially defined as striving to experience pleasure, enjoyment, and comfort. The definition actually focuses on the striving for these experiences, rather than the actual experience of them.
Common examples of hedonic pleasure are sex and food. But hedonism too is subjective, just like happiness. There are strange fetishes that seem to make people happy, and also pretty straightforward things like porn and chocolate.
All in all, these activities usually mean you’re experiencing high levels of positive effect and emotion, and low levels of negative emotion.
This is fascinating, as it’s a word I’ve actually never heard before. Have you?
Eudaimonia is a Greek word that translates to being in “good spirits”. You’d think this word would be more popular, considering how many of us are constantly striving to be in good spirits. It was also the term Aristotle used for the highest human good.
It’s basically the aim of practical philosophy, and expands to include ethics and political philosophy. Simply put, however, eudaimonia means that someone is content with the way things are.
Some suggestions to experience eudaimonia in everyday life:
- develop a mindful attitude towards yourself and the world
- live a purpose-driven life
- cultivate positive relationships
- accept your entire self.
What Does Happiness Look Like Really?
Happiness does seem to have a certain look to it. If you observe someone walking down the street, there are markers that you’ll automatically observe. Things like posture, facial expression, quickness of movement, and even the look in someone’s eyes are all signs of whether or not they’re happy.
For examples someone who’s happy (or at least conscious enough to project happiness) will stand up straighter, wear more of a smile in their eyes and on their face, and will generally move with more ease and grace. This last one may seem kinda weird, but people who are not happy tend to move more sluggishly and with less enthusiasm.
All over, however, keep in mind that it’s always easy to try and look a certain way. However, true happiness can be felt from the inside-out.
Enjoy The Moment
What does being happy mean? If you ask the Buddhists and more Eastern philosophies, there’s a huge emphasis on enjoying the moment. In fact, many meditation practices exist to do just that: bring the mind into the present moment.
The idea behind this is that the more we dwell in the future and in the past, the less power we have over our actions. One way of bringing your mind into the moment is to focus on the passing of the air through your nostrils. As you observe the air going in and out of your nose, you’re bringing your mind to one object of focus. When your mind wanders, you can gently bring it back.
Experienced meditators do this for hours at a time. Because of this, you can focus your mind, settle your emotions, and allow yourself to be more calm, which naturally means you’re more happy in the moment.
Set and Understand Your Own Goals
Goals are a funny concept. There are schools of thought which will tell you that having goals can set you up for failure. But really, having an idea of what you want for your life seems like a good idea.
The key, so it seems, is to have a loose attachment to your goals. Not to say that you’re less committed, but keep in mind the point is to be happy. If you set yourself up with unrealistic goals, and you don’t achieve them, it will make you more unhappy than anything.
If you have a loose attachment to your goals, and you set them realistically with logical intention, you should be good. Think of what makes you happy, and head in that general direction. Sounds pretty basic, but if we want to actually do these things, we need to make it super simple, right?
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Reframing negative thoughts is also complicated and a bit convoluted. It seems almost silly to do it when you’re in the moment and you’re trying to remind yourself to think positively.
However, this alone can have a huge impact on your happiness! You always have a choice as to how you’re going to look at something. Choose the lighter, more positive thought and you’ll experience more lightness and positivity. Not to say that you should avoid your problems… but approach them with a solution in mind.
How To Cultivate Happiness In Your Day To Day Life
We’ve reviewed a lot here. What is happiness? What are the different types of happiness? What does happiness look like?
When it comes to cultivating happiness in your day to day life, here are some specific actions you can take to boost endorphins and a sense of well-being:
- Exercise! It’s proven to boost your mood and sense of satisfaction!
- Meditation is great for calming nerves and slowing you down.
- Eating well provides your body with appropriate nutrients to keep your mind working well and your energy levels high.
- Listening to motivational audio can be a great way to gain a different perspective.
- See a counsellor or therapist. They can help to teach you skills which will make you more happy in the moment. Further, they’ll help you process trauma that may be preventing you from feeling your best.
- Sobriety is also known to be helpful in assisting more humans to a healthier, more wholesome version of happiness.
Now go spread that happiness with everyone else! We need it!