Why do People Choose to be Happy or Miserable?
What does Happy Mean to the Individual?
Happiness is an elusive thing. The dictionary defines it thusly:
1.delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2.characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
3.favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
Definition one and two are closely linked but number three is distinctly separate and somewhat misleading as "fortunate" and "happy" aren't necessarily linked. Contentment on the other hand is an even vaguer subject. One doesn't really need to be joyous in order to be content, in fact some people are content in situations most wouldn't want to live a day through. An inspection into the individual's mind and personality is needed to probe further into the mystery of happiness.
The Biological Roots of Happiness and Depression
It's long been known that hormones and various other bodily systems play a large role in how people feel and behave. Sometimes personality can interact with these systems at a level we're only beginning to understand.
Genetics play a large part in everyone's lives. Not only are positive characteristics passed on through the generations so too can negative ones, be they physical or mental. Hormonal and chemical imbalances are caused when something's amiss with the systems in the body. This is a defect that like any other defect can be seen strongly in family lines. This can be the first thing to look into when considering an individual's depression (or happiness.)
There are natural ways, besides the common pharmaceutical treatments, that can be used to affect the happiness in one's life. Research has been done on laughing and smiling that conclude that both these activities raise positive feelings in an individual by altering the chemical systems within the body. Now there are actually therapy groups, which try to use these facts to their advantage. Whole gatherings of people all clustered around just to share a good deep laugh. The harder the laugh and the longer the better these people feel. Laughter also brings people together and cements bonds. It's believed now laughter is an adaptation to living in social environments and should be used whenever possible.
The Personality - Happiness within Misery
It's been known for a long time that some people are just impossible to bring down while others seem to wallow in a depression that doesn't really fit their situation. Why is this? This could be for several reasons.
Some people may be content in their existence (even when it's a miserable one) because they've known nothing better in their life. Other times it's a conscious decision to be content with their keep, perhaps because aspiring to a better lot in life could potentially cause more harm than good.
So if some people can be happy in bad situations then why are other people miserable in good situations? I have a theory that some people are actually happy within misery and depression, that they actually like chaos and malcontent in their lives. There can be several reasons for this. I think the most important one would have to do with the responses they get from other people. Sometimes complaining about life can bring these people attention from others around them. It doesn't matter if the attention is good or bad, these people just tend to like attention period so they continue the chaos of their lives, continue to complain to whomever they see, and do nothing to fix either their social situation and fractured ego, or their mood which may or may not be genuine in the first place.
All in all misery and happiness needs to be studied on an individual basis, their sources identified, and dealt with accordingly. Otherwise malcontents can drive you up the wall when you yourself are happy or you may want to mow down every smiling enthusiast you see on a bad day. Remember everyone is entitled to both good and bad days. No one born on this planet can expect to have only good days. At some point in our lives we will all have to deal with the biggest reason for situation depression: loss. Whether the loss is physical (as in death) or more metaphorical (as in a break-up) we will all go through several of mood roller coasters in our lives. It's how we get back to our daily existence that counts.
If you found this article interesting you may like other articles by Theophanes.