What is happiness and why should you pursue it? 

When you hear the word ‘happiness’, what comes to your mind first? Is it an elevated  state of joy or calmness in your mind? Or is it just a fleeting feeling of contentment? The concept  of happiness can evoke different interpretations and experiences for everyone. For some,  happiness may be synonymous with moments of pure joy and exhilaration, where one feels an  overwhelming sense of elation and positivity. Others may perceive happiness as a state of  tranquility, where the mind is at peace and free from disturbances. However, it is essential to  recognize that happiness extends beyond fleeting emotions and encompasses a more profound sense of fulfillment and well-being. 

Happiness is more than just an emotion. It evaluates satisfaction with one’s life and  considers factors such as how frequently we experience positive emotions like joy and love, as  well as negative emotions like anger and jealousy. Additionally, happiness involves collectively  evaluating how much we prosper in different areas of our lives, such as our relationships, career,  personal growth, and overall well-being. 

Several notions and theories highlight how happiness can be obtained. Hedonism claims that happiness can be attained by maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. On the other hand,  eudaimonism believes that virtue development and practice are the paths to happiness. It strongly  emphasizes the importance of developing virtues, practicing them, and adhering to them in all  situations. The concept of flow, introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes a  state of complete immersion and focuses on activity. When engaged in a task that matches our  skills and challenges us just enough, we can experience a state of flow where time seems to fly and feel fully absorbed and fulfilled by the activity itself. This flow state can contribute to a  heightened sense of happiness and well-being. These perspectives can be applied to one’s life to  attain and maintain ever-lasting happiness. 

There are numerous advantages to being happier. Happiness has been linked to good  physical and mental health. Happy people are more likely to engage in healthier behaviors, such  as following a diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse.  This contributes to better health with reduced mortality and increased longevity. Moreover,  happy people are less likely to develop mental problems like anxiety, stress, and depression.  They also have more optimism, better-coping skills, and high resilience. Happy people are also  more productive at work, creative, have better relations with colleagues, and have higher job  satisfaction. They also have more intimate relationships, healthy friendships, and stronger social  relationships. They are not only happy themselves, but also make everyone happy around them. Happy people also elect better governments and show more civic engagement. Overall, happy  people increase the quality of life in individuals and society.

Thus, happiness goes beyond being a fleeting emotion and encompasses a cognitive and  affective evaluation of one’s life. It is an essential aspect of everyday functioning for individuals  and society. By cultivating happiness, not only do we benefit ourselves, but we also have the  power to impact others positively. It serves as a powerful tool for personal growth and  development. When we are happy, we are more likely to be productive, engaged, and motivated.  It allows us to approach challenges with resilience, creativity, and a positive mindset. By  nurturing our happiness, we become better citizens, more effective human beings, and good hearted individuals. Moreover, happiness is contagious. When we radiate happiness, we create a  positive ripple effect, spreading joy and positivity to those around us. Our happiness can inspire  and uplift others, fostering a sense of well-being and harmony within society. By being happy,  we create a happier and more compassionate world. Therefore, let us recognize the profound  impact of happiness on our lives and the lives of those around us. Embrace happiness as a  transformative force and a guiding principle. Strive to cultivate happiness within yourself and  inspire it in others. Together, we can harness the power of happiness to create a better, more  fulfilling existence for ourselves and contribute to the collective well-being of society.

About the author

Department of Psychology Girijananda Chowdhury University