1. Home
  2. What does it mean to be happy?

What does it mean to be happy?

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.

like & share 0 Likes