How Happiness Works

How Happiness Works


It is easy to define the word happiness, yet it is a little more challenging to achieve and maintain it.  

Merriam-Webster defines happiness as:

1a: a state of well-being and contentment : JOY

b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience

The word happiness is used to describe both an emotional and mental state.  Happiness can mean anything from feeling contentment, to pleasant and positive emotions and peak at what most of us describe as intense joy.  

There are a lot of perspectives on how to achieve happiness.  In the western world happiness is typically associated with personal and professional achievement.  It is the end goal of a lot of work and effort.  There is a pursuit involved in reaching happiness.  

In contrast some eastern schools of thought seem to achieve happiness through letting go of attachments.  The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that life has suffering.  Their approach to achieving happiness takes the form of identifying the origins of suffering, how to end that suffering, and ultimately how to find contentment. 

Some research has found the more we pay attention to and decide if we are happy or not, the less we actually feel happy.  A popular comic strip artist and game designer The Oatmeal pointed out that “Our sense of happiness is so brittle, it can be destroyed simply by asking whether or not it exists.”  

Scholarly research into the science of happiness has yielded the following:

Paradoxically, therefore, valuing happiness may lead people to be less happy just when happiness is within reach. 


You are probably wondering what you can do to enjoy more happiness in your life.  The best way to achieve happiness is to stop chasing after it and enjoy the best things already happening around you in your life.  A grateful person sees the beauty in simple actions and contentment in circumstances that many would find impossible.

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