What is Happiness? What is Happiness
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Happiness can mean different things to different people. For example, for one person, it may mean being in a happy relationship, whereas for someone else it may mean pursuing their favourite interest in form of either a hobby or career. It has been established that happiness is a state of mind where a person feel happy when there is less of pain and more of pleasure. In other words, we may assume that happiness is all about minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure. Now, pleasure could be about finding satisfaction in ourselves and in what we have done. Even when what we have done has been painful!

Wikipedia defines Happiness as an emotion associated with feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense joy. The correlates which can alter the 'measurement of happiness' includes religious involvement, parenthood, marital status and income. A variety of philosophical, religious, psychological and biological approaches have been taken to defining happiness and identifying its sources.

Science of Happiness
Several factors contribute towards our happiness. Martin Seligman, an American based psychologist has suggested an 'equation for happiness':

H = S + C + V - where H = Happiness S = Set range/genetics (Approx.50%) C = Circumstances (8-15%) V = Voluntary Control (Past, Present & Future)

Set Range/Genetics - Studies have proved that about 50% of our leval of happiness is determined by our genes, which means that we are all born with a certain "set-point" of happiness. This set or level of happiness may alter if some dramatic events happens in our lives. But, this change is temporary and usually your happiness level will return to its 'set point' within a year or so.

Circumstances - Circumstances play a role in influencing the level of happiness and accounts for only around 8-15% of our happiness levels.

Voluntary Control - This is one of the most important factor in 'Equation of Happiness' because one can control it, and in the process control their happiness. All those aspects of our lives over which we have a relatively higher degree of control, including our thoughts and actions and also the way we choose to think about and act on the past, present, and future, have quite a significant impact on how happy we are. When thinking about the past, happier among us will pay attention to what is 'good' about the past, rather than focusing on the sad times. These people are grateful and far more forgiving than 'unhappy' people. Similarly happy people are more optimistic about their future in a realistic manner. Even if future does'nt turn in a way they had visualized, they know it's not the end of the world either. The way you think about and act in the present, also determin how happy you are. Happy people would find happiness in present surroundings, bulidings and being in meaningful relationships.

Stefan Klein, in his book The Science of Happiness, links the dynamics of neurobiological systems to the concepts and findings of positive psychology and social psychology.

Are Religious People Happier?
A recent systematic review of 850 research papers on the topic concluded that "the majority of well-conducted studies found that higher levels of religious involvement are positively associated with indicators of psychological well-being like satisfaction, happiness, positive affect, and higher morale and with less depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior, and drug or alcohol abuse." Studies by Keith Ward show that overall religion is a positive contributor to mental health (read happiness) and similarly, surveys by Gallup, the National Opinion Research Centre and the Pew Organization conclude that spiritually committed people are twice as likely to report being "very happy" than the least religiously committed people.

Philosphy of Happiness
In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 B.C.E., Aristotle stated that happiness is the only emotion that humans desire for its own sake. He opined that men sought riches, or honor, or health, not for their own sake but in order to be happy. According to Aristotle, happiness is an activity rather than an emotion or a state. Schopenhauer says, "If we accept that happiness is not automatic, then it puts the onus on us to find and create happiness for ourselves. We can take a more active approach to designing a pleasing life for ourselves."

According to Socrates, by looking back at which decisions have brought you long-term happiness and which have eventually left you feeling regret, you can deepen your self-knowledge (about happiness). Let success follow happiness, said Albert Schweitzer, the humanitarian, prolific author and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He observed that success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Happiness Tips
Always expect happiness. Remember happiness is contagious, therefore, associate with happy people. Be positive and always look at the brighter side in every situation. Try to find happiness in small things - listen to relaxing and uplifting music, watch funny movies that make you laugh, read atleast few pages of an inspiring book or article and take time out to pursue your hobby. Each day do something good for yourself and at least one act to make others happy. Smile more often.

You can create moments of happiness for yourself. Undertake activity which inspires you on a regular basis. It could be few minutes of quiteness or half an hour of excercise or going out in a crowded place with friends or telephonic chat with a loved one. Most of us, while waiting for bigger happiness, loose small moments of happiness which are derived from small activities of our day to day life.

The person who has a job he loves will never have to work a day in his life. If you love what you are doing, you will be happy, so find a job you enjoy doing most. If that seems impossible, do things that interests you. Find meaningful activities that give you a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.

"If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody." - Chinese Proverb


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