We all want to be happy. Unfortunately, the definition of happiness is not standardized, making it difficult to achieve. Happiness is wholly dependent upon an individual’s life goals and perspective. Being happy for one person could mean solitude, peace and quiet. In contrast, for someone else it could mean having a big, loud family. No matter what your definition of it, it’s crucial that you find a way to be happy and enjoy the ride of life.
Be Happy: The Biology
Understand the biology of happiness to strengthen your chances of finding it. According to Tony Robbins, human beings are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Hence, we look to not only survive in life, but to experience what makes us happy. Our brain chemistry is designed to support these efforts by releasing chemicals into our brain and body that make us feel good.
There are numerous neurotransmitters, or substances released by nerve fibers, that affect happiness. Four primary chemicals in the brain that effect happiness are oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These hormones help improve your mood and create an overall feeling of happiness.
Serotonin balances your mood and promotes feelings of well being. Harness it by being kind, spending time outdoors, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. In addition to exercise and spending time outside, you can activate endorphins by meditating and laughing. Dopamine is the “feel good” hormone that plays a role in feeling pleasure and reward. On top of the aforementioned activities, trigger more dopamine with music and getting sufficient sleep. While not technically a happy hormone, oxytocin promotes social interaction. Switch it on by spending time with loved ones and showing affection.
The Picture of Happiness
No matter what your personal definition of happiness is, it’s something everyone seeks on a daily basis. The tricky part about happiness is most of us paint an ideal picture of what that happiness looks like, visualizing it as some kind of end goal or happy ending. Regrettably, most of us fall short of recognizing this ideal portrait because it isn’t rooted in reality.
Maybe we’ve been programmed to think of life as a storybook series of events with an introduction, a buildup, and then a final act, similar to a book or a movie. As romantic as it sounds, this perspective is unrealistic, dangerous and self-handicapping.
Take a moment to evaluate the number of uncontrollable elements that would have to fall perfectly into place for this exact picture of happiness to exist. Pursuing the perfect picture of happiness will have you chasing your ass looking for something that’s likely impossible. Furthermore, realize you’re chasing a one in a million scenario, which will leave you unsatisfied and frustrated,
Happiness is Intangible
Unfortunately, being happy isn’t a quantifiable goal you can set like losing twenty pounds, saving $10,000 or reading a new book. Happiness is a feeling you experience based on your expectations of situations and your perspective on what’s happening around you. Since nothing in life is permanent nor fully controllable, happiness is both unpredictable and fleeting. Accept this fact as you develop your goals.
In reality, life is going to throw curveballs at you. Usually, you won’t be able to control nor predict the outcomes. Sadly, people will get sick, loved ones will die and unforeseen problems will arise that you’ll be forced to deal with. All of these factors could disrupt your perfect picture of the happy ending you’ve created in your mind. If you prevent yourself from feeling happiness during your life experience because you’re so focused on the finality of your journey, you’re missing the point of living.
Be happy in the present moment while pursuing your goals. Appreciate your life and the gifts you’ve been given. Learn to recognize and soak in the fleeting moments of joy, fulfillment and freedom, which are the peak levels of the human experience. Know this: life isn’t a Disney movie; there is likely no flawless happy ending. In summary, the journey should be as enjoyable as the destination.
-Your Big Bro
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.-Tecumseh