What Is Happiness?
Ah, happiness, that elusive state. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and even economists have long sought to define it, and since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning it down and propagating it. More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.
A growing body of research also suggests that happiness can improve your physical health. Feelings of positivity and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment.
Attaining happiness is a global pursuit. Researchers find that people from every corner of the world rate happiness more important than other desirable personal outcomes, such as having a meaningful life, becoming rich, and getting into heaven.
How to Achieve Happiness
Happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; researchers find that achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Money is important to happiness, but only to a certain point.
Money buys freedom from worry about the basics in life—housing, food, and clothing.
Genetic makeup, life circumstances, achievements, marital status, social relationships, even your neighbors—all influence how happy you are. Or can be. So do individual ways of thinking and expressing feelings. Research shows that much of happiness is under personal control.
Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction.
Exercise to be incredibly happy
No verbose headline for this one because there is no getting around it. I don’t care how much you hate exercise, there are so many benefits for it (both physically and psychologically) that you should be doing it regularly in some form.
To add to the pile, research has also found that exercise is a proven strategy for feeling better, increasing your energy levels, and reducing tension. And to prove that you should get started today if you currently don’t exercise, one study showcased how self-image improved (even when body shape didn’t change) for participants just by exercising.
Yes, starting to exercise may suck at first, but even taking the first step with a 7-minute exercise may be enough — research suggests that a high-intensity session for just 7 minutes can offer a slew of health benefits.
Not only that, those who are just getting started often see the biggest boost in happiness: The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time.
For the rest of us? Switching up routines and making exercise one of our regular habits is the key to lasting happiness. Also, dead lifts, many many dead lifts.
What Is Happiness?