We all want to find happiness, to smile and feel good about ourselves and our lives. This pursuit of happiness is intrinsic to human nature, with several studies revealing that people rated being happy as being more important than having meaning in life, being financially “comfortable”, etc.
One would love if we could just have this sense of chronic happiness, just by having lots of happy moments all the time. However, do not deceive yourself… happiness usually implies accepting and going through a lot of discomfort as well. Furthermore, being happy implies “to be”, here and now, which entails a state of mind, and not a continuous feeling.
Do we have any control on finding happiness? Research tells us that yes, we do indeed! Although 60% of the happiness recipe is based on things we cannot control, such as genetics and temperament (50%) plus life circumstances (10%), the other big slice of this cake is on us! 40% of your sense of happiness comes from actions that you voluntarily and intentionally take.
Great!! So what do I have to do?
So far research and clinicians have come up with three possible pathways to find happiness.
The first one is through pleasure. Neurologically speaking it involves dopamine, our “desire system”. This is based on the present moment, at a very conscious level, however it has the disadvantage of leading to habituation. Basically, it ends as fast as it started.
The second way of achieving happiness is through engagement. At a brain level, we are talking about oxytocin, the “love hormone”. It is also based on the present moment, but at an unconscious level. Have you ever felt confident and great on accomplishing a chosen or assigned task that you are totally absorbed in and have the feeling that time is flying? This is it, and science calls it “experience of flow”. In detail, is by definition the state of intense absorption and involvement in the present moment. Flow is experienced when there is a positive match between a person’s self perceived strengths and skills and their current task. It is characterized by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, and a feeling of being perfectly challenged. Flow is intrinsically rewarding, hence unconscious. Overall, a great feeling but you are not fully aware of it.
Last option is through the concept of meaning. Also based on oxytocin, but in this case more applicable to social relationships, philanthropy and altruism. It is basically knowing your strengths and skills and using them into something bigger than you. A good example is voluntary work.
Which one do you think it last longer? That’s right…the last one!
So, whether you choose one of the above options, or you have a bit of all options in your day, you can then say that you are creating your own happiness every single day.
Try it and let us know what happened when you started taking care of your happiness!