What really makes you happy?

Posted on August 31st, 2018
what really makes you happy

What are the ingredients for a happy fulfilling life?

 

I once sat down with a good friend of mine and we were argueing almost fighting about the purpose of happiness. In the end we came to the conclusion that we both don’t know what makes a happy person neither what makes us happy. So I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

I decided to contact a good old friend of mine, he studied psychology and knows one or two things about the human brain. This was actually the first time I was introduced to the “Different Levels Of Happiness ” . You might be suprised now and say ” well either you’re happy or not, what is this about Sebastian ?! ”

Well let me put it like this, when your growing up your tend to believe there is only 2 states in life: either you’re happy or you feel miserable. This couldn’t be more wrong. Indead there are several levels of happiness and it all boils down to one thing:

 

What is happiness to you?

 

I could teach you all different levels of happiness, but what’s the point? Does it will make you a happier person or enlighten your life on any behalf? Probably not. So why you came accross this post?

Right because you hope to find the answer that burns inside you.

What really makes you happy?

Guess what? your the only one who is going to answer this question, even if you don’t know how right now at the end of this post you will have figured it out. So instead of only teaching you the principals of becoming a happier person, explaining to you the different levels of happiness –  I actually make you question yourself what makes you really happy and you will answer it.

Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Well as always in life there is a catch to it. You need to get rid of all your past impressions and teachings about happiness.Why? Because they led you to think about happiness today in a wrong way. If you do had received the right advices and teachings you would already could answer the question yourself.

What really makes you happy?

 

You need to understand the psychological part first in order to understand how your brain reacts to different events and what triggers endorphins to make you happy. So let’s get right to it.

 

 

The Different Levels Of Happiness

 

 

Laetus – Happiness from material objects

 

The pleasure you get from material objects is always limited. Make sure that your life contains of all 4 happiness levels as a life relying only on pleasure from material objects gets very shallow and without meaning soon. This kind of happiness can be intense but is short-lived.  The idea is to maximize positive emotions and minimize negative emotions.

 

 

Felix – Ego gratification. Happiness from comparison: being better, more admired than others etc

 

Happiness comes from ego gratification, being compared with others and coming out on top –  this is the domain of achievement and competition. You feel this type of happiness when you for example win in sports or get a promotion. Everyone likes admiration and winning to some extent but people varies a lot regarding how strong their competitive nature is.

In case of failure, focusing too much on this level can lead to frustrations and a sense of worthlessness.

 

 

Beatitudo – The happiness from doing good for others

 

The human desire for connection, meaning, goodness and unity. Simply summed up as “Love”.  As this level of happiness we move away from ourselves to focus on others. In essence our happiness depends also on the happiness of others. Level 3 happiness  provides a deeper feeling of meaning than level 1 and 2.

The limits of level 3 happiness are human imperfections. Nobody is perfect and human relationships involve disappointment, jealousy, and the risk to be hurt.

 

 

Sublime Beatitudo – Ultimate  happiness

 

Level 4 happiness involves a search for fullness and perfection. It has to do with finding the right balance between the other levels… and then some. Psychologists have labelled this desire for ultimate happiness a call for connection to the larger universe or a sort of transcendence.

Some fulfill this desire through spirituality or religion, others through philosophy, art, or scientific endeavours to find answers to some of the big questions of life, human existence and the universe.

 

 

so now we know the 4 different leves of happiness, what excactly triggers them in our brain? Of course I will only scratch the surface as this is a very complicated and long topic.

 

 

Why you get happy ( brain processes )

 

 

When you understand what’s going on in your brain, you can begin to influence it to your benefit. You can stimulate more happy chemicals when you know the job they evolved to do and what causes their release for you. So let’s dive into the world of brain proccesses which lead to happines.

 

When we ask ourselves what makes us happy, we often think of the circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives. In reality, happiness is largely a chemical experience. Four main neurochemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters generated in the brain  creating the emotions we’ve come to associate with happiness.

Even when circumstances or people in our lives aren’t excactly as we’d like them to be, there are ways we can increase our happy brain chemicals and alter our moods. It all boils down to four hormons:

 

 

1. Endorphins

Diminishes our perceptions of pain. Keeps us going during work-outs and helps us to endure difficulties. Endorphins, produced by the central nervous system to help us deal with physical pain. They also make us feel lightheaded,

 

2. Serotonin

Provides the feeling of significance, pride, status. It drives us to seek the recognition of others.  Exposure to bright light, especially sunshine, is one way to increase serotonin. Exercise and happy thoughts also stimulate production of this chemical.

 

3. Dopamine

 Rewards our motivation, kind of like the “greed” function of our brain. Makes us feel good when we get through project milestones. Volunteering has been shown to increase dopamine as well as have other long-term health benefits. And some research has even found that it only takes thoughts of loving kindness to bring on the dopamine high.

 

4. Oxytocin

Creates intimacy, trust and the feeling that someone will protect you. Feeling of safety. This hormone provides a multiple whammy of warm fuzzies, by stimulating dopamine and serotonin, while reducing anxiety. To get your hit of oxytocin without popping ecstasy, give someone you love a cuddle.

 

 

so now you know about the four different hormons which are responsible for your happiness, how to trigger them?

 

 

How to trigger the four happiness hormons ?

 

 

Endorphins

  • take a group exercise class
  • seek out daily laughter
  • listen to music
  • have sex
  • eat something spicy

 

Serotonin

  • get enough vitamin B6
  • get plenty of Exercise
  • reduce Stress
  • drastically reduce sugar
  • spend more time relaxing

 

Dopamine

  • take Some Caffeine
  • sun bathing
  • get a massage
  • get the right amount of sleep
  • discover new things

 

Oxytocin

  • laugh
  • deep breathing
  • hug someone
  • give money away
  • listen to soothing music

 

 

now you know what triggers the four hormons that are responsible for your happiness, let’s get to the bottom of it:

 

 

Conclusion:

 

What really makes you happy?

 

Whether it is a fancy car, new home, being famous or spending time with your loved ones. In the end you decide what makes you happy, there are no key principals to apply. Of course you can influcence your current state of mind with the tactics mentioned above to trigger each of the four happiness hormons, but it is not as easy as it seems.

Happiness is a state you decide, not your parents not your teachers not your boss. The ability to be happy in a miserable environment or situation is the key.

 

thanks for reading

Sebastian

 

 

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