​Did you know that only 10% of your happiness comes from external circumstances? And that a mere 20 minutes of exercise three days a week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent in six months?

It gets even better when you understand that your outlook on life, and what you choose to do with your life accounts for 40 percent of your happiness levels. This includes your friendships, work, and participation in your community. Happy people generally earn more than unhappy people.

Myths about Happiness Crushed.
So many people believe that if they become rich today, they will certainly become happy, but the reality is that, with increased income and wealth people tend to raise their standard of living to match their new budget. The result is that with time, they end up in the same position they were in before, thinking that more money will increase their happiness.

In an article titled ‘It’s More Important to be Happy Than to be Rich’  by O’Reilly, he explains that, “There is a strong correlation between wealth and happiness, the authors say: “Rich people and nations are happier than their poor counterparts; don’t let anyone tell you differently. But they note that money’s impact on happiness isn’t as large as you might think. If you have clothes to wear, food to eat, and a roof over your head, increased disposable income has just a small influence on your sense of well-being.”

Some people think that happiness is a destination where they have to do whatever they can in order to reach it. What they don’t understand is that happiness is a state of mind, and that the state of mind changes from time to time so there is no reaching any destination. The goal is to maintain the correct state of mind so that we can be happy for a long time.

The Difference between Happiness and Pleasure.
To some extent happiness and pleasure have been defined interchangeably but the two words have completely different meanings. Happiness is a state characterised by feelings of contentment and satisfaction with one’s life while pleasure is a positive feeling we get from experiences like getting a massage or eating good food.

Happiness is not a permanent state, but it stays longer than the few moments brought about by pleasure. In his article ‘Pleasure/Happiness Gap’ Seth Godin, explains that “pleasure is short-term, addictive and selfish. It’s taken, not given. It works on dopamine while happiness is long-term, additive and generous. It’s giving, not taking. It works on serotonin.”

The Psychology behind Human Happiness.
In an article on  ‘What is Happiness and Why is it important? (+Definition in Psychology)’ by Positive psychology, they explained that there are two major theories of happiness, that is Hedonic happiness and Eudaimonic happiness. They went ahead and explained the two theories in depth where;

1.  Hedonic happiness/well-being is happiness conceptualized as experiencing more pleasure and less pain; it is composed of an affective component (high positive affect and low negative affect) and a cognitive component (satisfaction with one’s life).

2.  Eudaimonic happiness/well-being conceptualizes happiness as the result of the pursuit and attainment of life purpose, meaning, challenge, and personal growth; happiness is based on reaching one’s full potential and operating at full functioning (AIPC, 2011).

So what is Happiness?
The word happy is a feeling, of showing pleasure or contentment, while happiness is the state of being happy. What we need to understand is that happiness is a state which can change from time to time and that it is an internal and external experience. So happiness is a state characterised by feelings of contentment and satisfaction with one’s life or current status.

You can also say that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel on a daily basis. We have the ability to control how we feel and if we make it a habit of practising happiness we can have a life full of satisfaction.

You can also read “Self Improvement is a Continuous Process.”

Happiness is an Attitude and State of Mind.
The mind is a remarkable thing that we were blessed with as human beings. Your state of mind determines how you view your world and the conclusions that you make about your life.  Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the thing you look at changes.” Our role in pursuit of happiness is to look at things positively and try to find solutions instead of complaining and dwelling on the negative side of life.

Someone also said that our state of mind is the sum total of everything about us at a given time. So our behaviour is the result of the state we’re in. Happiness is a positive state of mind and in order to be in a positive state of mind we need to entertain positive thoughts such as joy, confidence, and gratitude.

Gratitude is the Key to Happiness.
When we start being grateful towards the things that we have, we end up adding value to them. Unhappiness sometimes is catalysed by valuing what we don’t have and neglecting what we have. So the best approach is first being grateful of what we have, which in turn will give us peace and satisfaction and then having faith for what we would like to have which gives us hope.

It does not mean that you stop being ambitious and don’t dream big, it means that we enjoy what we have and completely make use of it while working to improve our lives and make things better. True happiness and contentment can therefore be actualised if we look within ourselves and learn how to love ourselves. Dr. Shefali Tsabary, psychologist and author, even said it beter, “Only when we fill our own need and feel satisfied from within can we truly be fulfilled and happy.”