From Mrs. Cog's Corner

What is happiness?

The NY Times says, 'after 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values.' The Huffington Post has devoted an entire section to better understand it. And just in case it's still not clicking for you, here is a TED talk on how to buy happiness. If you think you might need further input on tracking what really makes you happy: there's an app for that.

Indeed, there seem to be recipes for happiness everywhere. Some, like the song in this video (thank you to my child unit), I cannot get out of my head. (Well worth the four minutes to watch once.)

But is there more to the "happiness" thing than the obvious?

Fascinating studies not only show that being happy boosts our immune systems, scientists think they know how. It has also been shown that happy people live longer lives. After coming to these wonderful conclusions and more regarding the benefits of happiness, Harvard researchers even ponder whether happiness might be made into policy (lol).

After reading more than a hundred different articles, studies and websites on the topic of happiness, I came to several conclusions myself. First, happiness seems to be defined by the individual and like our health, no two people are the same. Second, happiness sells. It is the ultimate carrot to dangle whether you define yourself on the outside by what others perceive of you, or on the inside by looking within, there are an abundance of products, people and services to help you reach your goal. Third, and possibly most important, in these trying times when change is roaring through the world as we know it, more people are consciously grasping for genuine ways to achieve some degree of happiness while artificial stimulus crumbles and leaves many exposed to an emptiness.

In the end, I suppose the one constant point boils down to a recently penned Cogism. No one can "make me" happy. I can only find it on my own.

Some famous insights to happiness:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  Mahatma Gandhi

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”   Dr. Seuss

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”  Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama XIV

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Buddha

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh

Read More:

While I may take joy in the quiet moments, you may get more energy and happiness from socializing. Despite these little differences, there are certain areas of our lives that we can adjust and make immediate changes to in order to feel more joy on a daily basis. http://naturalsociety.com/5-things-boost-happiness-now-part-1/ and naturalsociety.com/5-things-boost-happiness-now-part-ii/

We crave happiness. It is certainly more desirable than unhappiness. By understanding how happiness, and the lack of it, affects the overall well-being and level of consciousness of oneself, each person is able to take steps towards streaming more happiness into one’s life. By using tools such as meditation and positive psychology exercises such as expressing individuality, we are able to experience more happiness more often. http://wakeup-world.com/2014/03/28/elevated-happiness-the-why-and-the-how/

For at least the last decade, the happiness craze has been building. In the last three months alone, over 1,000 books on happiness were released on Amazon, including Happy Money, Happy-People-Pills For All, and, for those just starting out, Happiness for Beginners. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/meaning-is-healthier-than-happiness/278250/

In 1964, magazine editor Norman Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an arthritis-type auto-immune disease that affects the spine. Doctors gave him a one-in-500 chance of recovery. He scoffed at their prognosis and began a new type of therapy—happiness therapy—self-medicating with regular doses of mood-boosting movies and activities which he ultimately credited with his “dramatic recovery”. Considered one of the forefathers of what’s known as psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), Cousins was one of the first to demonstrate the impact of moods on health. http://naturalsociety.com/happiness-impacts-health/

The results demonstrated that affective profiles systematically relate to psychological well-being and harmony in life. Notably, individuals categorised as self-fulfilling tended to report higher levels of both psychological well-being and harmony in life when compared with the other profiles. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24688843

Complex associations among physical activities, health status, and social functioning appear to determine happiness levels in older adults. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24679157

The Journal of Happiness Studies is a peer reviewed scientific journal devoted to subjective well-being. It covers both cognitive evaluations of life (like life-satisfaction) and affective enjoyment of life (such as mood level). Next to contributions on appraisal of life-as-a-whole the journal accepts contributions on life domains (such as job-satisfaction) and life-aspects (such as perceived meaning of life). http://www.researchgate.net/journal/1389-4978_Journal_of_Happiness_Studies and http://link.springer.com/journal/10902

Research on how to increase positive moods and capitalize on your strengths has proliferated in recent years,that  thanks to the positive psychology movement, and has shed light on ongoing insights into personality, mood, and cognition. Not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, but experts agree we can all learn how to bring more meaning and satisfaction into our lives. http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/happiness

It’s a chicken and egg problem, though. Does happiness bring those kinds of things, or do those kinds of things lead us to be happier? While we may not exactly know the answer to that question yet, we do know the answers to many other questions about happiness. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/04/10/5-reliable-findings-from-happiness-research/

7 thoughts on “Happiness”

  1. An important topic!

    After decades of pursuing ‘happiness’, it took an unusually difficult immersion experience for me to ‘GET’ that happiness is, simply . . . a choice. I can be happy/unhappy about anything. I can choose to see the dark side/light side of anything – even if it’s something that might look simply awful to someone observing it. It’s my call. This discovery has made a huge difference in both my life, and in the lives of those around me.


    1. Happy seems to be such a fleeting state of being for me…I started to do better when I swapped out contentment for happy.
      But you are right, It is your call.

  2. At this point I am working on the idea that happiness = inner peace. It’s kind of funny how that works… when I am centered (and balanced) it’s easier to grasp the concept because it seems I can dip my toes into the happy pond. When I’m off, well then I’d like my happy with or without the side of inner peace and it’s just darned frustrating how that does not work well.

    Cog says I should be more like Yoda. Do or do not, there is no “try”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ4yd2W50No

    1. Inner peace>happy
      Just semantics or maybe more?

      Happy, Sad, Frightened all seem to me (How I define them in my experience) to be fleeting states of being that are just not sustainable.

      Where as Contentment(your inner peace), or Discontentment are the only 2 enduring states of being that are the basis for all other emotions/feelings. As you said above, “when I am centered (and balanced) it’s easier to grasp the concept because it seems I can dip my toes into the happy pond.”

      Centered or Balanced to me are synonymous with Inner peace or Contentment.

      While in a “Base-Sustainable-State-of-Being: Contentment”, Happy can come and go like “dipping toes in the pond” {You are on the ground watching the roller coaster}

      While in the “Base-Sustainable-State-of-Being: Discontentment”, You Become Happy or Not-Happy {You are in the roller coaster}

      Like Yoda says” There is only do or not do”

      There is only Contentment(inner peace) or Discontentment(inner strife).

      All the “emotions” are 3 dimensional sensations that we experience From/Thru our “Base-State-of-Being” Contentment or Discontentment.

      When you are Content (Centered, Balanced, Inner Peace), you can experience any and all emotions for what they are.

      When you are Discontent (Not Centered, Unbalanced, Conflicted), You become (you are) the emotions that you experience.

      I can see where this all could be a lot easier when we are 900 years old! :)

  3. A few days ago I walked my 2 dogs through the woods to a hillside clearing that overlooks the Pacific and my neighbors 6 little Schnauzer 3 month old puppies trailed along. It was brisk, but sunny and I lay down in the grass covering my face with my cap and my ears with my hands holding the cap down while the puppies played all over me. THAT was joyous, and I lay there until they wore themselves out. I will never forget that happiness.

    But as some sage said, “….after enlightenment (happiness), there’s still the laundry”.

    1. Nice. :-) Thanks for the smile Glynn.

      I think perhaps after some happiness is found, the laundry is no longer a chore, but just a task to act out while being in a good place.

  4. For me happiness is nothing more than a choice. I choose to be happy therefore I am happy.

    Recently a very close friend of mine crashed his motorcycle and lost a leg . I worked with him on trying to focus on what he has rather than what he lost. He realized that he only feels sad because he lost something. If everyone only ever had one leg than he’d be fine. He has chosen to accept his situation and has chosen to be happy regardless of his loss. For many it is a choice.

    Another very free spirited friend of mine got caught with some weed in his car and ended up in jail for a month. I said to him that it must have been difficult. He told me he found a way to remain happy throughout. All he said was, what’s the point in wasting a month being sad, how would that help?

    I’m sure it’s different for most but that’s the way it is for me. I’m the happiest person I know. How does the saying go? Some are happy because life is good. For others, life is good because they are happy.

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