Happiness, the most elusive a thing to some, but effortless to others.
So, how does it feel to be happy and what makes people happy?
Are you happy now? If not, can you recollect the feeling of being happy when you were?
Maybe you were happy when you got married or got the job. You were feeling great, bright, joyous, high, optimistic and filled with lofty visions for the future.
Yes, we all know how being happy feels. We all have experienced happiness to some degree. And we have some ideas about what makes people happy.
But the problem is, those moments of happiness do not last forever.
Usually, we get used to the new situations the happy moments brought with it and it all becomes averaged out. Or, maybe something bad happens and makes us unhappy again… And our pursuit of happiness resumes.
So, we all can agree that happiness is always one of the main things that we seek in life, but it is again the thing that keeps eluding us each time we get hold of it.
Then, what actually is happiness and what makes people happy? And most importantly, how can we achieve lasting happiness?
In this article, we will be answering these very questions.
What Is Happiness?
Happiness is defined in many ways.
But essentially, it is a mental state where the emotions you feel are pleasant. These emotions may range from simply being okay to feeling intense joy. But all of these emotions constitute the mental state that is happy.
What is happiness caused by?
What makes people happy?
There are some things that make all of us happy. Then, there are things that are subjective.
For instance, having a fun time with our loved ones causes happiness to all of us. On the contrary, playing video games may bring happiness to some, while aversion to others.
So, things that cause happiness to people are subjective. Have you found what makes you happy?
What creates happiness in the brain?
We have seen what makes people happy externally, but internally, it’s all about chemicals.
In our brains, different shades of happiness are caused by 4 main types of neurotransmitters, hormones, and neurochemicals.
- Dopamine: Dopamine is the happy chemical that our brain releases when we see reward or pleasure in sight.
- Oxytocin: A hormone and a neurotransmitter, Oxytocin gets released when we bond, feel love, and trust the people around us.
- Serotonin: It is experienced in the mind when we feel self-respect, confidence, and importance.
- Endorphin: This neurotransmitter gets released to help us cope with physical pain.
Apart from these, there are a few other hormones that are related to our emotional states. Some of these are Endocannabinoids, GABA, Adrenaline, and then there is Cortisol — the stress hormone that feels really bad.
So, what makes people happy is actually the brain chemicals. But can these chemicals be regulated at will? Let’s see!
Realize That Happiness Is A choice
So, once you realize that happiness is predominantly an internal process, you will gradually understand that happiness is also a choice, and you will be able to transcend the limits of what it is that makes you happy.
Yes, it is going to be hard at times. You may not just be able to uplift your mood for some reason. But if you try enough, you definitely will. Nobody remains sad forever.
When in sadness, know that you will be happy again. And if you try, you can make the transition happen sooner. Thus, with gradual attempts and repeated efforts, it becomes much easier for us to turn happiness effectively into our choice.
Read more on how to choose happiness in our article, Realizing The Truth That Happiness Is A Choice.
Understand That Happiness Comes From Within
As at the core of things, what makes people happy are the neurochemicals within our brains that cause the sensations and emotions of being happy, we can always safely say that happiness comes from within!
However, there are far more significant implications to this saying. Haven’t we all grown up listening to stuff like “happiness comes from within” and “inner peace?”
Yes, we have, and for good reason. The reason is that these sayings are the key to happiness.
Happiness is a matter of engineering your consciousness. The more you access higher consciousness, the more you become free from external influences and are able to be joyous, internally and automatically.
Gradually, you access such avenues of knowledge and consciousness that you can find happiness even in the darkest of times.
Happiness Can Be Found Even In The Darkest Of Times
You might remember hearing or reading about a famous Harry Potter quote where Dumbledore talks about finding happiness in the darkest of times.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
― J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The quote very accurately tells us a profound truth about life, that the light of knowledge allows us to find happiness even in the darkest of times.
But what exactly is that knowledge that will help us to find happiness in the most unlikely times?
The knowledge of unity in multiplicity and permanence in change.
Knowing that we are not these fragmented and separate beings crawling on the surface of the earth, but that we are at one with the universal existence — that our life is inseparably connected with the universal destiny and that we are, in fact, the universe.
And also know that just like the universe, we are indestructible. Although superficially everything changes and ceases to exist, essentially it is just transformation and evolution.
Even after death, our bodies may wither away, but it does not cease to exist. It simply transforms into other forms of energy.
The light of this essential knowledge about existence will remove the darkness of ignorance and joy will shine within you through all the obstacles.
Read more about acquiring the knowledge in our article, How Happiness Can Be Found In The Darkest Of Times.
For now, let’s have a look at the play of words surrounding happiness.
Happiness goes by so many names.
Naturally, we have multiple words to describe a single thing; but for happiness, these variations are a bit more significant.
Our emotions are capable of showing us innumerable kinds, hues, and colors of feelings.
And we have different words for each one of these. So, it would be better to get a look into the major shades of happiness through the synonyms of the word.
The first few words that come to mind are joy, peace, pleasure, and bliss. These four actually sum up the happiness spectrum — starting from simple day-to-day pleasures, to peace, to joy, to bliss.
All the other shades and synonyms can be considered under one of these four categories or umbrellas.
- Peace: Contentment, contentedness, satisfaction can be said as being similar to peace.
- Joy: Cheerfulness, cheeriness, gaiety, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness, gladness can be put under the umbrella of joy.
- Pleasure: Gratification, excitement, merriment, amusement, enjoyment can be called similar to feeling pleasurable.
- Bliss: Revel, delight, elation, rupture, ecstasy, euphoria will all fall under the umbrella of bliss.
Analyzing all the synonyms of happiness separately also offers us a broader view into the mystery of what makes people happy.
Joy Vs Happiness — What’s The Difference?
Now, all the types of happiness that we noted above can essentially be put under the two cardinal umbrellas of joy and happiness.
Although it is easy to blur the lines and feel the same about these two emotions, most of the experts believe that the happiness is due to external factors, like being with your loved ones or owning a car.
While joy is more internal, that means being in a good emotional state automatically without any external influence. In this case, bliss and ecstasy are the highest peaks of joy.
The Conclusion On Being Happy
Being happy is being simple.
Joy is the natural state of the universe. It is our minds and mental illusions that make the state of affairs tainted with sadness.
Once you free yourself from your self-limiting mental structure, or ego, and get acquainted with the universe within you, you will become free from sadness and experience the natural joy that never fades.
Even the occurrences of death and disease will shine brightly through you in the grand scheme of things, and you will get the higher message engrained in all things dark and vile.
So, being happy is first understanding what makes people happy or sad. Then, transcending those limits.
Happiness should not be limited to certain things that make you happy. Why should your happiness be slaves to mere things?
It is you who were destined to be the master of yourself and your happiness!
Some Happy Quotes To Make You… Happy!
In this post, so far, we have gone through as many aspects of happiness as there are. Now, let’s chill and enjoy some glorious quotes about happiness itself.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.
― Abraham Lincoln
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
― Mahatma Gandhi
No medicine cures what happiness cannot.
― Gabriel García Márquez
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.
― Marcus Aurelius,
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
― Mother Teresa
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
― Dalai Lama