What Is Happiness?

What Is Happiness?

Defining Happiness


We often discuss the concept of happiness and our constant search for it, but we rarely take the time to truly define it.


Philosophically, happiness is often associated with leading a virtuous and excellent life that flourishes, rather than simply experiencing emotions.


Psychologically, is a mental and emotional state of well-being, tied to experiencing positive emotions and feeling a sense of significance and satisfaction as a result of living life.


Economists also have an interest in happiness, and have developed various questionnaires, indices, and equations to identify the attributes of the happiest people. In addition to subjectively reported levels of happiness (which economists are skeptical of), factors such as income, social security, occupation, relationships, children, freedom, and pleasure are believed to have a significant impact on our happiness.


The United Nations publishes an annual World Happiness Report, which is a survey of the global state of happiness that ranks 155 countries according to six key indicators: freedom, generosity, health, social support, income, and trustworthy government.


However, the national level does not necessarily translate into personal level.


Psychologists suggest that circumstances only account for 10% of a person’s happiness level. Studies have shown that individuals’ happiness tends to return to pre-event levels within about two months, regardless of what happens – whether they win the lottery or lose a limb. This phenomenon is referred to as the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation.


Research indicates that 50% of our happiness is determined by biology, specifically genetically determined personality traits such as being sociable, active, stable, hardworking, and honest. Twins with similar scores on key traits like extroversion, introversion, and honesty have similar happiness levels, but these similarities disappear once their scores are adjusted.


The remaining 40% of is determined by our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. As the Buddha taught, channeling this potential into the right thoughts, actions, and behaviors is enough to free us from suffering. Science supports this idea – there are many things we can do to influence our level of happiness.


Happiness is a personal and subjective concept, but from a scientific perspective, it is a combination of life satisfaction and day-to-day well-being.


Research indicates that 40% of our happiness is influenced by our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Biological factors account for 50%, while circumstances contribute only 10%. Interestingly, we tend to adapt to our circumstances over time, and they may not have as significant an impact on our happiness as we assume.




Happiness is a skill that we can cultivate through practice. By taking control of our lives, we have the ability to increase our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.


Happy people enjoy several benefits such as better health, stronger relationships, increased productivity, and a greater tendency to help others.


However, happiness is not a constant state of bliss, having unlimited wealth, ignoring negativity, or reaching a final destination. It requires effort and persistence to develop.


In summary, happiness is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by various factors. But with practice and effort, we can increase our level of happiness and enjoy the many benefits it brings.


It is better for your overall health to maintain a consistent level of moderate happiness over time, rather than experiencing fleeting moments of extreme happiness.


To increase your long-term happiness, you can:


Build relationships

Seek out new experiences

Help others

Practice gratitude for what you have

Savor positive experiences by using all your senses, paying attention to details, and sharing the experience with others.

By savoring experiences, we can increase our happiness, gratitude, and hope, while reducing levels of stress, guilt, and depression. This can also strengthen the parts of the brain associated with happiness.


It’s also important to embrace adversity, as those who have experienced some form of hardship tend to be happier than those who have not.


Through adversity, we can learn to:


  • Define our identity
  • Build courage in the face of challenges
  • Better manage stress
  • Cultivate a more optimistic outlook for the future.


Searching for meaning


The key to well-being is to feel connected to a deeper purpose or mission in life. People who say more meaning in their lives means having mostly stable states and exhibiting social behavior. People of all ages say they are happier when they have more meaning in their lives.


Different ways in which people discover meaning


Through a fulfilling career

People who find their purpose at work show more motivation and involvement at work


Through spirituality/religion

Studies show that spiritual or religious people tend to be happier. In addition to meaning, it also offers people an integrated social network.


Raising children

85% of parents believe that their children give them more happiness and fulfillment than any other relationship.


Pursuing goals that align with core values

Goals that include a commitment to something other than ourselves (such as friends, family, or community) help create satisfaction in life.



Many people are happiest in a “flow-like” state, that is, they are engaged in an enjoyable activity that requires some degree of skill and presents itself as a challenge that makes them feel ” on the wave”, losing all sense of time.



People who practice mindfulness regularly have increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, one of the areas of the brain responsible for calmness and happiness.


Practicing empathy

Think from another person’s perspective. When others feel understood, you have a chance to build intimacy and well-being.


Make time for friends

6-7 hours

On days when people spend 6-7 hours with friends or family, they are 12 times more likely to feel happy rather than stressed.


8-9 hours

People who work full time feel the most happiness on days when they spend 8-9 hours with friends or family (so make the most of those weekends).


Practice gratitude

“In 12 years of research, I have not met a single person in interviews who has the ability to truly feel joy, who does not actively practice gratitude.” Brene Brown, Ph.D.


4 ways to increase your level of happiness instantly


  • Spend 5 minutes doing something that could make someone you love’s day better.
  • Send an message and thank someone for something they did for you.
  • You have a meaningful conversation with a good friend.
  • Savor a memory. Close your eyes and relive the happiest moment of your life.


Happiness around the world in 2023:


  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Israel
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Norway
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. New Zealand


3 thoughts on “What Is Happiness?”

  1. David Monier-Williams

    For me happiness and joy are closely connected. I get great joy when I see people change, not just the moment of change but the on-going change.

  2. Pingback: Goals for a Fulfilling and Joyful Existence: Mastering Lifelong Happiness

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