Overview: How does being happy work?
When are you happy? When you have a good job, a happy relationship, or a nice day? Sure, that all makes you happy for the moment. But even more important for being happy is your inner attitude. If you have a positive attitude, you can be happy even on a bad day. In our article, we’ll give you some tips for being happy and answer questions you often ask yourself.
Basic tips for being happy
As in so many things, the will is already half the battle. This means that if you decide to want to be happy, this is already a first step in the right direction and makes being happy easier. You should also create good basic conditions: make sure you get enough sleep, focus on the things and people that are important to you. Work for your visions and share successes with others instead of keeping everything to yourself. As you do this, always take time to reflect and remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. Learn to value yourself and pay attention to your personal needs. Get practical tips here.
What does it mean to be happy?
I’m sure each of us has asked ourselves this question at some point. But how satisfied were you with the answer you got? Because it’s not that easy and there’s a good reason why philosophy, science, religion and society have been dealing with the topic of happiness since time immemorial.
A small definition of happiness
In spite of everything, let’s try a very general definition here. For example, we could say that being happy is the result of experiencing something positive. This can be an event that is happening around us, or we have a feeling completely independent of our environment that makes us happy. So there is being happy because you experience something that makes you feel happy, or you are just relaxed and happy from the inside.
A biological explanation for being happy
Science is also interested in being happy, there are whole branches of research that deal only with this topic. And they have found out that being happy happens in the head when the messenger substances dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released, as well as the opioid endorphin. The body releases more or less of these, depending on how positive the situation is at the moment. That’s why a declaration of love makes you happier than a new pair of socks, for example.
What Aristotle says about being happy
Being happy played a particularly important role in the philosophy of the ancient Greek Aristotle. For him, it was even the most important thing in life, a goal toward which everything else is directed. According to Aristotle, one becomes happy by leading a virtuous life, that is, by obeying laws and doing good to others. For him, virtues include, for example, diligence, justice, wisdom and education. However, one should not aim to be particularly good at these virtues, the ideal for Aristotle lies in the middle between perfect and extremely bad.
Why can’t I be happy?
You just don’t feel happy? Days, weeks, months go by and you just can’t change the fact that you feel bad? There can be various reasons for this. Here are some of them.
Wrong ideas about happiness
Being happy doesn’t mean that you walk around all day grinning like a honey pie horse. Of course, you may not be cheerful in difficult situations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. Because as we’ve established, there are two kinds of being happy: either it has something to do with the situation you’re in, you’re experiencing a moment of happiness. Or it’s about your overall happiness. If you focus only on the happiness you feel at certain moments, you can quickly get the feeling that you can’t be happy.
The fear of being happy
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” – you’ve probably heard this before. Sayings like this exist for a reason: you can also be afraid of being happy because you fear the “hole” of disappointment afterwards. It may be that consciously or subconsciously you simply assume that every period of happiness must be followed by a low. This then leads to your body trying to suppress feelings of happiness and you therefore believe that you cannot be happy. You can also combat this fear of happiness, known as cherophobia. Realize that being happy is not just the feeling of a sense of accomplishment or the butterflies in your stomach, but also the everyday joy of a cup of coffee in the morning, the sunshine on your skin, or a kind word from a friend. This way you keep your happiness feeling at a constant level.
Learning to be happy – is that even possible?
As I said – happiness starts with choosing happiness. This isn’t so much about following a recipe and doing certain things and you end up happy. Rather, you can learn to be happy by consciously noticing and enjoying positive experiences or feelings. Write down when you had a good day. This will help you to remember it later and to evoke the feeling again. Always be aware of what is good for you and what you are enjoying right now.
The thing with the black point
You’ve probably heard this story before: A large white canvas hangs in the exhibition, with a tiny black dot painted in the middle. Where do viewers look first? Not at the perfect white surface, but at the small deviation. Maybe it’s the same for you with being happy. This is only understandable: We humans are born perfectionists, we always want to get the best out of something. It’s clear that annoying things will be noticed first. But this fixation on the small point can put us under pressure in the long run. That’s why learning to be happy also means getting into the habit of looking away from the little things that aren’t quite perfect yet.
Can I be happy with myself?
Almost all of us want to perform well. After all, it feels good when you’re the best – whether it’s at work, in sports, or in some other area. But that can quickly put a lot of pressure on you. Therefore, learn to be happy with your development instead of always fixating on a lofty goal. Take your time and realize what you already have or what you have achieved and be happy about it. It’s not that you should stop trying to be successful at something, but that you should be relaxed about it.
Know your value
Being happy becomes especially difficult when you define your own value by your achievements. Even if you’re successful, you’ll still worry that your streak of happiness will eventually break, taking away your identity. The Stoics in ancient Greece had a prescription for this: Acceptance. Instead of wishing you were a different person and frantically trying to bend in that direction, learn to accept yourself in the current situation and virtually wish for what you currently have. By doing this, you will also learn to value yourself at the same time.
Can I be happy with little?
Minimalism is on everyone’s lips: Not just in the material sense, but as a lifestyle, it promises that you can be happy with just a few things. Why is that possible? For example, it frees your mind for other things. Instead of being overwhelmed by stimuli in your own home, you have room for creativity. Time robbers like tidying up or searching are reduced to a minimum because everything has its place. But also your head is freer. When you stop fixating on the next big investment, you have room to think about what’s actually important to you.
The problem lies in comparing
Whether we have a lot or a little is always a question of proportion. We compare ourselves with our neighbors and their grass is always greener. If you want to be happy with what you have, then try to get out of the habit of comparing. Don’t focus on what others have, but on what you have. This applies to objects as well as to friends and relationships, talents or professional successes. Fixate on what you already have, use it, and evolve from there at your own pace.