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What is Happiness? - A Few Thoughts to Consider

Updated on May 23, 2013

What is Happiness? A Definition of Happiness

What is happiness but a mental state filled with positive emotions such as joy, contentment,
excitement, interest, satisfaction and vitality. Life satisfaction can also be considered a form of happiness and this mental state is usually brought on by taking part in activities that make a difference to the well-being of others and of the Earth as a whole. A career in something that we cherish would undoubtedly lead to great happiness; but how many of us are able to enjoy a career doing something we love?

A mere 20% of people are satisfied with their job according to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey, which is a pretty shocking statistic when you consider that our careers take up much of our lives. How much time does that leave us to find happiness elsewhere?

What is Happiness Actually Doing for Us?

In 2005, Sonja Lyubormirsky, Laura King and Ed Diener published their research findings of several studies that focused on the relationship between happiness and how well people function in life, and their findings indicate that happy, positive people have far more of a chance of success than their unhappy counterparts.

According to the study happy people:

1. Are far more adaptable when faced with conditions of adversity, displaying a strong resilience and never-say-die attitude that sees them through challenges more easily.

2. Are healthier and more physically active.

3. Are very popular and as a result, have much more enjoyable social lives.

4. Are unsurprisingly more helpful than unhappy people obviously due to the fact that they spend less time worrying about themselves, therefore have more time to spend on others.

5. Are able to set goals and achieve them, overcoming obstacles in order to reach the completion of the goal.

So we know happiness is good for us but what is happiness to you? Let's take a look at a few things that make us happy.

A Map of World Happiness


Happiness is inspired by many things




Enjoying the moment brings happiness




Finding the one brings happiness


What is Happiness and How Can we Attain It?

From the same research mentioned above by Lyubormirsky and colleagues, I shall now talk about what affects happiness levels to give you a better idea of what kind of changes you can make to your life in order to increase your happiness level.

Life Circumstances

Circumstances such as job, income, age, ethnicity and social status have a surprisingly small effect on our happiness according to the research. These factors only have a 10-20% impact on our happiness levels so they are not the ideal areas for you to focus on in your search for a more satisfying life.

Our Attitudes

According to the research, our attitude has a much bigger effect on our happiness levels at 40%. This means those who actively attempt to increase their happiness by controlling their thoughts, taking part in happiness increasing activities and setting and achieving worthwhile goals are far happier in general.

So in a sense, fulfillment of our purpose amounts to happiness, right?

A Sense of Control

In a separate study of happiness by Johnson and Krueger, it was found that the degree of control that people felt they had over their lives and its direction was the biggest contributing factor to happiness. People who felt they were in control and were steering the direction of their lives displayed a strong sense of satisfaction.

What does this mean for you?

This means that if you are fed-up with your life or are experiencing dissatisfaction, you need to look at these aspects of your life and evaluate them carefully:

  • Are you working in a job you hate?
  • Do you take responsibility for your feelings and general mental well-being or do you blame others?
  • Are you setting goals?
  • Do you have a long term goal that you are working towards daily or weekly or are you allowing circumstances and events to steer your life for you?

Take control of your life. Start with your attitude. Begin controlling your thoughts and stop any damaging habits that may be holding you back from the happiness we all deserve but so few are experiencing.

What is happiness and how can it be achieved according to the aforementioned study?

Attitude--->Control--->Cicumstances: That is a formula that you could begin to work on. Work on your attitude and with the improvement of that will come a sense of control, which in turn will be followed by improved circumstances and then happiness and satisfaction.

"It is the mind that makes good or ill. That which makes us happy or sad; rich or poor."- Edmund Spencer


The handy Psychology Answer Book - Lisa J. Cohen, PhD

Positive Charges - Alexander Lockhart, 1994, Zander Press

The Psychology of Happiness

What is Happiness to you?

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Books to Help You Learn How to be Happy in Life

What is Happiness - Deepak Chopra

What is happiness to you?

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    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Aekateryna! :)

      I understand where you are coming from with your opinion Aekateryna, and I would usually tend to agree.

      However, I do understand what Roy means when he says "the more you sacrifice, the more is the pleasure," because I have experienced that kind of happiness before, on many occasions.

      For me personally, I prefer a blend of happiness types. Sacrifice, doing what you love, setting goals, having a purpose, enjoying nature.

      The ultimate though, must be the happiness that comes from within. A contentedness with life and a level of satisfaction with existence that doesn't require anything material! Nirvana! :)


    • Aekateryna profile image

      Aekateryna 5 years ago

      Roychoudhury, I would avoid describing happiness as no pain, no gain.

    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hello, HP Roychoudhury.

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, happiness can be defined in many ways, and there is no exact definition of it because it is different for everyone.

      For me, happiness is doing what I love. I love writing, nature, exercising and helping others and I'm happiest when doing those acivities.

      Peace! :)

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 5 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Happiness lies in personal interest. Some gets happiness by enjoyment, some gets by the completion of mission and vision and again some other gets by sacrifice – the more you sacrifice, the more is the pleasure.