When will a person be happy 1

Be happy. What does it mean exactly?

What is the definition of be happy? How can we actively increase our daily happiness? And can we even do that?

Does happiness include expensive vacations, flashy cars and extensive shopping trips? No, says science, because these things only ensure a brief high of happiness. They do not affect our happiness fundamentally or in the long term. According to the research of our author Calvin Holbrook, deep, true happiness lies in the little joys of everyday life, in passion and life satisfaction.

What does be happy mean? The thoughts of many philosophers, theologians and normal people like you and me have been revolving around this question for ages.
For some time now, this question has received more scientific attention. But does this current research into our wellbeing really bring us closer to the true definition of happiness?

Before we get into what science has found out about happiness, it is probably easier to first determine what happiness is definitely NOT.

1. Being happy has nothing to do with wealth

Data from the first half of the 20th century, a time when world wars and economic crises dominated everyday life, show that people were happier when their incomes rose. At the time, studies showed that people with more money were significantly happier. It's different nowadays.

While it is of course more difficult to be happy in poverty, recent research shows that once a certain level of prosperity is achieved, more money does not make people happier. The popular advertising promise "buy yourself happy" therefore only works to a very limited extent.

“Success doesn't mean just having lots of money. Lots of people with lots of money lead incredibly unhappy and unbalanced lives.” Benjamin P. Hardy

In a 2010 study, Daniel Kahnemann and Angus Deaten from Princeton University used a specific number to determine the relationship between happiness and income. The researchers have set an annual income of $ 75,000 or just under 65,000 euros as a threshold [for the USA [. Up to this limit, increasing income makes you happier. Anything in excess of this amount no longer has any influence on the feeling of happiness. [1]

Experiences with loved ones can be a source of happiness

There is one exception, however, and that is when you buy experiences with your money that you share with friends and family.

In their book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton show that using our hard-earned money on activities or spending it on others can make us happy. [2] Altruism is an important keyword here, because numerous studies show: whoever gives becomes happier.

"When you give something to other people, you create a special connection with that person, and that is definitely good for your own happiness." M. Norton, Professor of Marketing at Harvard University

You might also be interested in: Of happiness, meaning and a successful life

2. Happiness doesn't mean you have to be happy 24 hours a day

When asked "What does being happy mean", science says that happiness does not result from the feeling of being happy around the clock. In fact, happy people also have times when they are sad and unhappy.
Researchers found that people have a kind of baseline, i.e. a happiness target value, the so-called “set point”.

What is luck? Each of us has a different set point for happiness

This term from psychology describes our general level of wellbeing. Everyone has a different happiness setpoint: Those with a high set-point are generally happier than those with a less optimistic basic attitude (and a lower set-point).

"Even a happy life is nothing without gloom, and the word" happy "would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." Carl Jung

It is said that our happiness level drops below our happiness setpoint as soon as unfortunate events occur in our lives. On the other hand, exciting things push our level of happiness well above our set-point. Sooner or later, when these positive or negative things are over, our balance of happiness will return to its natural level (this is why some of us feel a little down after a wonderful vacation, for example, when we are back in the Find everyday life)

3. Being happy is a permanent journey, not a final state

Many people still think that being happy is a goal they attain once they reach a certain point on their big to-do list: a well-paying job, a partnership, a paid-off loan, kids, that latest high Tech device or a new pair of sneakers.
But often we forget that we live in the here and now, and that is exactly one of the keys to happiness: seeing it as a journey, not a destination. Likewise, it takes effort to get and keep happiness. Indeed, many of the things that bring us happiness and satisfaction only work if we practice them regularly and do not see them as one-off activities. Examples of this are consciously felt gratitude, e.g. when writing a gratitude diary, doing sports or meditation, through which we practice returning to the current moment.

"That means: happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a way of traveling" Margaret Lee Runbeck

On the other hand, one-off and special events like a wedding or a promotion will only make us happy for a short time. Because this feeling diminishes over time (you remember the happiness target value?) And also levels off the original value - no matter how opulent the wedding, the prestigious the promotion or how luxurious the trip.

So what exactly is happiness?

Now we know what happiness is NOT. But how can we define happiness now? In her respected book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, scientist for positive psychology, defines the term happiness: Happiness is an experience of joy, contentment and wellbeing combined with the feeling that your own life is good, meaningful and worthwhile. [3]

What is the definition of happiness? © YouTube / Greater Good Science Center

Thus, everyday joys and a purpose in life (through job satisfaction for example) are seen as two key factors in defining happiness. This was the opinion of the ancient Greeks, who believed that happiness consists of two parts: hedonia or pleasure and eudaimonia or meaning.
The pioneer of positive psychology Martin Seligmann has, among other things, added further components to these factors of happiness in his book "Authentic Happiness". This results in the so-called perma model, which defines the five pillars of happiness [4]:

  • P - positive emotions
  • E - engagement [motivation / flow]
  • R - Relationships
  • M - meaning
  • A - Accomplishments [achievement / achievements]

This model shows that we have the opportunity to actively create a happier life in many places and that this is crucially due to how we live every day and not how many possessions we were surrounded with in one day. For example, if you have no friends in one phase of your life, you can get involved socially and will thus have a positive effect on several of the happiness factors.

"Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There will be stress in life, but it is your decision whether you let it influence you or not." Valerie Bertinelli

More on the subject: Luck factors: flow, relationships, wisdom, music

Another important factor in our understanding and our definition is subjective well-being (SWB) [5] By combining three aspects of happiness - joy, meaning and commitment - psychologists are on this further scientific definition of the term Luck came.

Happiness is movement: find out what you love and take more time for it!

So our subjective well-being, or happiness, is a combination of how good we feel every day, how satisfied we are with our life (does our life make sense?) And how engaged we are both in the things we love and also in networking with our friends and family.

In this context, cherophobia - the fear of happiness - is an interesting phenomenon that has become more and more widespread in recent years. The good news, however, is that we have a significant part of our happiness in our own hands and that is the bad news because, as is often the case, it is our own responsibility.

Fortunately, in addition to our genetics that determine our happiness setpoint, we can work on changing how we feel about happiness every day. The search for happiness can bring us a life in which friendships, appreciation, motivation and accomplishments create lifelong habits that ultimately lead to happier, more fulfilling and happier lives that are difficult to shake in the long term!

That is exactly our definition of happiness. ●


[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/107/38/16489.full
[2] https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=43404
[3] https://booktree.ng/the-how-of-happiness-by-sonja-lyubomirsky-pdf/
[4] https://positivepsychology.com/perma-model/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK174473/

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The original English version of this article was written by Calvin Holbrook

Calvin is a journalist and the editor of the English happiness magazine and therefore a real expert on our happiness. He works as a collage artist, loves yoga, swimming, dancing to house or techno music and everything that is meant by "vintage".