The feeling of being happy describes a very broad and individual topic. But what does it mean internally for a person?
Let’s start from the beginning. What does happiness do to the body and why is it so important to feel happy?
Feeling happy goes hand in hand with physiological components: endorphins adrenaline, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline and phenethylamine are called happiness hormones and play a crucial role in feeling happy. Without these hormones, a depressed mood sets in or you even fall into a complete depression. That is why we are heavily dependent on the happiness hormones.
How, or which trigger produces these happiness hormones, is quite different and depends on the person: What is the person interested in? What fills them with happiness? What has the person never had and what does he or she desire? What fascinates the person? Who or what makes literally the heart beat faster, etc.?
A person can become happy with a terrarium, with kitchen knives or with clothes — the choice is almost endless. But the interesting question is: Why do these things trigger feelings of happiness? And is the person then happy forever?
First of all, a distinction should be made between needs and happiness.
If you think of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, you achieve happiness in a certain way when you realise yourself. For this to happen, however, various needs have to be met first:
- Physiological needs
- Safety needs
- Social needs
Then come the other needs, which in a certain way already imply a status of satisfaction:
- Ego needs
- Self-actualisation needs
It must be noted here that the first three vary greatly from culture to culture and country to country. But in general it can be said that without these, as a social being and under normal circumstances, one will have difficulty feeling happy.
First of all, the cultural component contributes to the feeling of happiness, because depending on where you live, there are different expectations of happiness. For example, health can play a big role or status symbols.
In addition, the geographical component must also be taken into account, which also plays a role in the cultural component. In the middle of the savannah, in small beautiful villages, completely different needs are important than in the big city.
Finally, the subjective component must also be taken into account. In general, health becomes more and more important with age, but the needs of the individual are also shaped differently by the environment and upbringing. This in turn is influenced by our experiences and what our parents have experienced, etc.
In today’s western culture, there is also the social pressure that plays a big role in the satisfaction of needs and the illusory experience of happiness. What do I need to belong somewhere? What do others have? What do I need to be loved or adored by others and do I need this to be/feel happy? What do I need to achieve to be respected? Do I need to follow the actions of others?
Everyone wants to revive and maintain this feeling of pure happiness, but often one does not know how, with all these unanswered questions. Therefore, many people approach the pursuit of happiness all wrong. They try to artificially replace an emptiness or a negative feeling with a short-term need satisfaction in order to suppress this feeling of emptiness. Even though it is usually short-lived, material things often prove to be the simplest means to happiness. Which woman is not happy about a piece of jewellery from her beloved or a new piece of clothing? Which man is not happy about a new car, watch, sports equipment, etc.?
Luxury goods — meaning everything that is not existential like food, drink or a roof over one’s head — are a nice pastime and fill one with happiness for a certain time. But what happens when this moment passes? The object of desire is still there, but the happiness of possessing it dulls over time. Never completely, because it is often associated with memories and thus emotions, but the happiness barometer drops. At that moment, something new is needed to experience that feeling again. Like a drug, everyone is constantly striving for the short-term high of happiness.
Many studies in happiness research confirm this and have been able to deduce a correlation between happiness and income. But if you take out the component of purchasing power/income or if everyone had the same purchasing power — and take out the differences, thus also the perceived injustice, etc. — would everyone be equally happy?
The answer to this question is clearly “no”, because “true” happiness requires more. A study has shown that people with fewer material goods and financial resources are happier or at least not unhappier. Is it due to modesty and simple living conditions and circumstances? Is it cultural after all? Does education play a role? The question arises as to what exactly is needed and can happiness be found entirely within oneself or is it linked to something or someone? Or is happiness perhaps only a purely theoretical philosophical concept?
The true feeling of happiness comes from within — clearly the hormones — but one’s own attitude towards oneself also plays an important role. Is one happy with oneself, with what one has achieved, where one is in life? Are you at peace with yourself, so to speak?
Happiness and contentment have a lot to do with one’s own expectations and the extent to which they can be satisfied.
The greater a person’s expectations, the greater the risk of being disappointed. Depending on the person and coping mechanisms, it is therefore important to calibrate and adjust expectations according to need and situation.
But regardless of what it is, the beauty is knowing that personal happiness is attainable and that we have control or a strong influence over it. So we can actively choose to be happy and do everything for it. And if you can’t do it on your own, you can always get or treat yourself to a little support. Not necessarily only through material goods, but above all through professional support to change something internally in one’s own expectations so that one can also feel it — this beautiful feeling of being happy!
That is why people have specialised in Mental Health / Wellbeing. Because happiness cannot and is not bought, happiness is felt. Sometimes you just have to reconnect to be happy.
Treat yourself to your intrinsic feeling of happiness too.