Monday, October 18, 2021

Happiness

silhouette of man enjoying sunrise

What is happiness? 

Happiness is a state of subjective well-being which includes: 
  1. An affective component - A feeling of joy or pleasure
  2. A cognitive component - A sense of contentment and satisfaction of living a meaningful life
The Ancient Greeks knew them by the terms hedonia and eudaimonia respectively, and though distinct, the two strongly correlate in people who report being happy. Happiness is, therefore, not about jumping from one joy to another, but also a deeper sense of fulfilment. 
Each one of us is unique and is made happy by a different experience, yet some people tend to be happier than others even through hard times. Do happy people share some common traits? It does appear so. Those who report feeling happy are generally 
  1. Open to learning new things 
  2. Find joys in the small things in life. 
  3. Have healthy relationships. 
  4. Have fewer expectations and do not register small annoyances. 
  5. Tend to go with the flow. 
  6. Practice compassion, gratitude and patience. 
  7. Exercise self-care. 
Temperament, personality traits and even genetics may determine our ability to be happy, and external circumstances do play a part, but much is under our personal control. Being aware of small pleasures, maintaining strong and healthy relationships, immersing oneself in challenging activities and finding purpose in life beyond oneself are ways in which we can find and nurture happiness. 
According to Seligman, happiness results from people becoming aware of their own personal strengths, taking ownership of them and living as per these ‘signature strengths’. 

Why happiness is good for us

Happiness is the single-most desired outcome across cultures and a priority for people across the world. 
  • It makes for a higher quality of life
  • A positive affect tends to improve our problem-solving abilities
  • Improves physical health – better cardiovascular health and immune response
  • Increases longevity

Association of happiness and wealth 

Most of us tend to associate happiness with wealth, belongings, success and status. However, beyond a point that enables us to fulfil our basic needs (food, shelter, safety and security), money has little correlation with happiness. 
An increase in income is almost always associated with increasing needs and desires, leading to a situation known as the hedonic treadmill, with no resultant increase in happiness. Indeed, there is a theory that each of us have a ‘set point’ of happiness, and quickly adapt to good or bad circumstances, returning to our baseline levels of happiness! 
In conclusion is Immanuel Kant’s wonderful yet simple Rules for Happiness.

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