What is Happiness?
When asked to define happiness, we find it difficult to give a definite answer. In fact, most people believe that we don’t need a standard definition for it. We just know it when we feel it. Often, the feeling is described as joy, contentment, pride and gratitude. It is said that happiness is that of having a good life, being free from suffering, being prosperous and the feeling of pleasure.
People are occupied with the pursuit of happiness, but what do we really know about “being happy”? What makes us feel it? Is it inborn? Is it possible to make ourselves happier? Who’s happy and who’s not?
Science has been attempting to answer such questions for years, and with the evolution of Psychology, we are finally given answers to understand this state that people have been striving for.
“The science of happiness” refers to the field of social science known as Positive Psychology. This should not be confused with “positive thinking” or self-help. Chris Peterson, one of the pioneers of this field, describes positive psychology as the “study of things that make life worth living”. It focuses on the constructive aspect of helping people get more of what they want to make them better, happier people, as opposed to traditional psychology that gives emphasis on getting less of what people don’t want and fixing what is “wrong” with them.
The key co-founders of the science of happiness are psychologists Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It has its roots in disciplines such as emotion research, moral psychology, humanism, cognitive behavioural therapy, the humanities and philosophy. They defined positive psychology as a “science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.”
The field of positive psychology recognizes that we acknowledge both the positive and the negative sides of life. It encourages people to focus on what’s good in life like character strengths, positive emotion and relationships, purpose and achievements. They say that it requires “a metaphysical orientation toward the positive”, that the good things in life has the same weight as the bad, and that both are worth measuring. On the other hand, traditional psychology focused and has been successful at aiming to make life better for people experiencing negative conditions in life.
Ultimately, positive psychology does not disregard the fact that life has its low moments, but it also encourages us to look at the best things in life, to make the effort to adopt, and to turn one’s attention on creating enriching human experiences.
The Happiness Myth
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, mentions in his book that people are taught to be effective and successful, but lack the skills to be happy. This is what Achor calls “The Happiness Myth”: “If we work hard and become successful, we will be happy”. This is the kind of mindset where we tell ourselves “If I’ll have this amount of money, then I’ll be happy” or “If I get my dream job, I will be happy”.
However, more than 200 scientific studies proved that this idea of happiness is completely wrong. Research shows that people who start off happy have more chances of succeeding. So here’s The Happiness Truth:
If we are happy, we are more successful.
When we are happy, we are more productive, it boosts out immune system, creativity, our income and effectiveness.
How to be Happy?
1. Researcher show that we have what they call a happiness baseline. It is the typical amount of happiness we experience in our lives. This happiness baseline can be increased with effort. This can be achieved by changing your mindset. You can’t just wait for you to feel happy. Happiness is actually a lifestyle.
2. Form habits that can make you feel happy. Such activities include writing thank you notes, meditating, doing acts of kindness, creating an inspiring environment, exercising, and spending on experiences than on material things.
3. Engage in activities that make you utilize your “Signature Strengths” on a regular basis.
4. Train your brain to see patterns of positivity, not patterns of failure. Have you ever played Tetris? It is the classic tile-matching puzzle video game with the objective of manipulating falling tiles to create a horizontal line of ten adjacent units. If you have ever played this game for hours on end, you will notice that your brain starts to let you see patterns wherever you are, whether in the supermarket, in a park, or even in the bathroom. This is what the author calls the Tetris Effect, citing that our brains are wired to find patterns in our surroundings.
One study asked participants to play tetris for 3 hours a day. These people started to dream in tetris patterns and see tetris shapes in their mind all day long. Use this mental ability to your advantage. Try to focus more on positive things, rather than the bad ones. Your brain will then get used to seeing the brighter side of things.
5. Studies show that if people are able to see failures as opportunities for growth, there is a higher chance that they will experience that growth. Don’t look at failures as something that will define you, instead, see how you can get up and learn from your experiences.
6. Invest in social relationships. Our relationship with our family and friends is directly connected to our happiness.
This infographic shows some interesting scientific facts about happiness.
Happiness and Hypnotherapy
If you have browsed through our website, you can see that there are a lot of issues that hypnotherapy can heal. But did you know that hypnotherapy can also aid in bringing you happiness? Through guided relaxation or self-hypnosis, you can experience that sense of well-being. It is every person’s dream to be free from stress and worries. Having health and wealth are also associated to feelings of happiness, as well as having positive experiences in life. But more than these, what really brings us authentic happiness is self-knowledge. It is through self-knowledge that we come to understand ourselves and others.
Through hypnotherapy, the journey towards self-discovery is made clearer. It makes us know and understand our limiting beliefs, how we can overcome challenges, and resolve issues of our past and our present.