Search for Happiness

Between long-term decisions and impulsive choices, many will make their decisions with the end goal of achieving happiness in mind. It’s an idea thrown around all our lives and while we have experienced it, do we actually know what it is? Perhaps more importantly, is happiness achievable?

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Let’s Define

Happiness is a hard concept to define and there may be no real definition everyone can agree on as of yet. However, we do have some ideas about how happiness could be defined.

“Scientifically”

By now, most people would be familiar with the “happy hormones” – serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are created in our brain (serotonin can also be created in our intestines) and circulate our body.

While serotonin is linked to other bodily functions e.g. digestion, it is also linked to mood, specifically happiness. Serotonin is deemed to be associated with happiness because higher levels of this hormone in our body are linked to increased feelings of confidence and well-being. Both of which, are usually correlated with happiness.

Similarly, dopamine also affects other body functions such as kidney function and nausea but it is most well known for its role in mood. Dopamine is like a prize your body gives. Dopamine levels will usually increase after you have done something rewarding or reached a goal e.g. hearing something funny, having a good meal. Dopamine can make people feel fulfilled or satisfied, emotions also correlated with happiness

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Other Ways to Define

There are many people who would agree that happiness is more than some chemicals in our bodies; as such, there are other definitions that steer away from this approach.

In the world of psychology, Freud is a famous man. He believed that happiness was the fulfilment of man’s instincts – his drives. Although many find Freud’s views in psychology to no longer be relevant or morally applicable to society; his attempts in defining happiness were once considered to be a strong opinion.

Generally, most will understand happiness as positive emotions, usually experienced as a reaction to an activity or event in our lives.

Better yet, through our own experiences in our lives, we could define our ourselves what happiness is, and subsequently, this would be what we hope to achieve.

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This leads us to our question:

Can we achieve happiness?

From what we’ve defined, this question does not seem to make sense. The idea of achieving happiness makes it seem like happiness is a finality, that once it is achieved it is a constant in our lives from that point. While it is not wrong to view happiness as a goal, happiness is not an end.

Regardless of which approach, we use to define happiness, a consistent underlying point is that happiness is a state of mind. Emotions, instincts, experiences and hormones, all of which could add up to happiness, but all of these factors can and will change in our day-to-day lives.

So, answering the question – no and yes.

No, we can’t ‘achieve’ happiness BUT we can be happy.

 

References and Linked Sources:

“Scientifically”

https://www.longdom.org/open-access/happiness-role-of-dopamine-and-serotonin-on-mood-and-negative-emotions-2165-7548-1000350.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449495/

“Other ways to define”

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257635715_Human_Chances_for_Happiness_A_Review_of_Freud’s_Civilization_and_Its_Discontents

Further reading and references:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/positive-psychology_b_2410890

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/podcasts/series/the_science_of_happiness


4 Responses to “Search for Happiness”

  1. cmasaeli says:

    Hi! Thank you for reading and your comment 🙂
    Chocolate does help boost one’s mood so indulging in a piece or maybe 10 definitely sounds nice when we are feeling down.

  2. cmasaeli says:

    Thanks for reading! Your gut definitely does a lot of work for the whole body 🙂

  3. Arwa says:

    Hi,

    It is really a good blog. That’s why we attend to eat more chocolate when we are sad to increase the level of happy hormones.

  4. Cat Thomson says:

    Hi there! I really loved this post! Especially during lockdown at the moment, it can seem a bit harder to find happiness. I really liked hearing about the science behind it. Who knew that your gut could control your mood!!