The scientific definition of happiness is the feeling of positive emotion. We all experience positive emotions to different things, so happiness is relative and subjective – you are the only judge of how happy you are.
Positive emotion can be defined as feelings of pleasure, engagement and meaning. Studies have shown that those who live the fullest lives pursue all three. Abraham Maslow said “What one can become one must”, those who live the happiest lives obey their soul’s calling. Humans are designed to serve others – our body rewards us with feel good hormones – serotonin and dopamine when we are kind to others. When we pursue our souls’ calling, we live a life of pleasure, engagement and meaning and we are happy no matter what our external circumstances are.
Pleasure alone is fleeting and you will always be chasing that dragon. The quality of our social relationships (engagement) is so important it not only affects our levels of happiness but is a predictor of how long we live. Living a life of meaning, serving a cause other than the pursuit of your own pleasure, illicit those feelings of contentment that come from helping others.
Last week we touched on mindset – your belief about yourself and your ability to influence your circumstances. To feel pleasure, engagement and meaning one must have a growth mindset. Below I compare fixed and growth mindset thinking.
A fixed mindset thinker views failure as a reason to give up and effort as a character flaw. For them success is a destination, they hang out in the “I will be happy when” camp. By contrast, for a growth mindset thinker there is no measure for potential and effort, there is pleasure in effort, overcoming challenges and success is in the doing – the journey.
I hope this was useful, if you enjoyed reading it please share with anyone who you think may benefit.