What exactly is happiness?
(Elmo’s got some wicked dance moves there)
Ever since I was little, I’ve wondered about this. What really makes someone happy? Is it something they have? Is it something you’re born with, or if you’re unfortunate, without? Is it something you can achieve or gain? Is it something that can be augmented or diminished?
I mean, one of the top Google searches when you type “how to be” is “how to be happy”. As if Google is miraculously going to be able to provide you with the key to happiness. (Wouldn’t it be nice if it did? And also a little frightening)
If you do a search for “how to be happy”, a bunch of medical articles and advice columns pop up, all promising to provide you with ways to become a smiling, bouncy, contented little ball of absolute sunshine. The suggestions go from the absolutely inanely obvious to concepts and ideas that your average person is gonna struggle to implement in their lives.
Well, certainly the internet must have a good answer somewhere, won’t it?
Let’s turn to my good friend Wikipedia, which provides the top answer when you search “happiness”.
“Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being.”
(I’m gonna choose to ignore the fact that ‘judgments’ is misspelled…)
So let’s break down that amalgamation of words.
“Happiness is a mental or emotional state”.
Okay. So you cannot “do happy”. It refers to something that you are; it’s not an action.
“… of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions”.
Hmm. Alright. So it’s definitely something positive and nice. Uh, duh?
“… ranging from contentment to extreme joy“.
Never mind that “extreme joy” makes me giggle. So happiness isn’t just this one state; it can be many levels. You can be somewhat happy, medium-ish happy, or very happy.
“Happy mental states may also reflect judgments” (sorry, I had to change it) “by a person about their overall well-being.”
Great. Now we’ve got judgments and other people thrown into the mix. This just got a whole lot more confusing.
Can you create your own happiness?
Well, other than the fact that that sentence makes it sound like happiness is something manufactured in a rainbow colored factory, I happen to think that’s a true statement. Yes, you can create your own happiness.
Science has literally demonstrated that the physical act of smiling, even if it’s more of a half-smile, a smirk, or a grimace, actually manipulates your brain into producing more serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that will actually make you feel happier.
Give a try just for the heck of it. Throw on a smile. Feel better? Figured.
What other methods can we use to make ourselves happy?
Anything you like. Have some chocolate.
Go for a walk outside. Take a long, relaxing bubble bath. Listen to your favorite song.
Watch something funny. Prepare your favorite meal. Go and smell the roses, literally. Grab coffee with a friend. Dance. Write or draw; get creative.
There are infinite ways in which we can create our own happiness. I sort of think of happiness like the way I do energy. Energy can neither be destroyed nor created. It just transfers. So when you’re feeling low, spend time around someone who is happy. You’ll find yourself feeling happier in the process. Then go and pass that on.
Because there isn’t really a secret to being happy. You just have to choose to be.
It’s as simple as that. Now go forth and be happy. Much love ❤