What is happiness? Marketing and media have brainwashed people’s brain into believing that happiness means to own possessions such as cars, big houses, or brand new devices among others. Unfortunately, this overstated fable is far from real. In fact, most people misunderstand that happiness is a choice that lies inside them. Weather to be happy or not, is up to any individual to choose as they please. Namely, true happiness is no more than a positive attitude, a good healthy habit, and life meaning. Yes, everyone wants to be happy.
However, people will never achieve this state of mind surrounded in negative environments. At the same time, the recipe is already there, happiness is simply a positive attitude. To clarify, the roots of happiness originate within people’s attitudes. Therefore, in order to be happy people simply need to grow those positive attitudes. Though, not to confuse positive thinking with a positive attitude. In other words, positive attitude means clear thinking as noted by Dr. Hanson in the article titled, “How to Build a Happier Brain.
Of course, people might argue that positive thinking is the “key to success. ” Incorrect, positive thinking is just verbal or for the moment; it actually does not count as “true happiness. ” To illustrate, Dr. Hanson explains that positive thinking might be helpful, but is does not have valuable impact on how people feel or react over a normal day. He declares that people with this kind of positive, look happy on the outside, but deep down they are angry, sad, or lonely. Anyhow, what exactly is clear thinking then? Clear thinking is one of the most important happiness’ factors.
As an explanation, Dr. Hanson illustrates that clear thinking means to learn from the negative experiences as well as improve from positive experiences. To emphasize, clear thinking comprises the whole picture, both negative and positive aspects. Nevertheless, happiness could be tough to achieve especially when people are immersed in a negative world. For instance, bad memories tend to be constantly present in our minds. Memories of a lost loved one, a failed relationship, a failed goal. In spite of those bad days, people do not have to give up. Remember positive attitude leads to true happiness.
According to Dr. Hanson, clear thinking is also unfolding those positive memories stored in the short-term memory, appreciate them, and bring them into the long-term memory. This world usually offers an environment of depression, anxiety, grief, among others. Yet, happiness is all about a healthy lifestyle. As an illustration, negative emotions, like the ones mentioned above, sink people into a “thread mode” and keep them from developing a positive attitude. Julie Beck in the article, “How to Build a Happier Brain” categorizes people emotions into two categories.
People that are constantly stressed, pushed, or rushed fall in to the “reactive mode” category. People in this mood cannot adopt a positive attitude. On the other hand, people who are calm, in peace with themselves, grateful of what they have belong in the “responsive mode. ” As a result, people in this group will be able to focus well in their daily activities and adopt a positive attitude. Granted, people want to be in the “responsive mode” right? This so called state of mind just derives from a healthy lifestyle. As note by Dr. Hanson, “exercise is not only a good physical health factor, but also gives mental benefits. For instance, regular exercise can be as powerful as antidepressants and no stress equals a happy life (or at least part of it). In addition, regular exercise promotes the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. Dr. Hanson affirms that these neurons are involved in learning from life experiences, as well as learning how to put things into context, which means see things in the bigger picture. In a nutshell, happiness comprises a positive attitude, which requires clear thinking.
Clear thinking means to learn from bad and good experiences; therefore, regular exercise promotes the growth of eurons that help in the learning process. Most importantly, happiness embraces a sense of purpose in life. Simply, people cannot be “truly happy” if everything that makes them happy is just material possessions. There will be some individuals that will not agree on this, however, at some point, they will realize that they were lying to themselves. In accordance with Emily Esfahani in her article, “Meaning is Healthier than Happiness,” she explains how happiness without meaning equates to a void in people’s life and might even be unhealthy.
To put it briefly, happiness is contributing to society, and caring about others. After all, compassion is what makes up a human being. In other words, happiness does not mean to only receive and have it all with ease. In agreement with Esfahani, this “false type of happiness” is only a sense of feeling good, not exactly as “true happiness,” and usually prolongs for a while. After this sense is over, people return to their feeling of emptiness. On the other hand, meaning means to contribute others or to society in a bigger way. Consequently, this act of kindness boost people’s self-esteem and make them even healthier.
As a description, Esfahani describes a study in which people who are happy, but lack meaning in their lives, have the same gene expression as people who are going through harsh times. That is to say, the activation of a stress-related gene pattern is present in a happy, but not necessarily meaningful person while people who have meaning in their lives showed a deactivation of the stress response. When people have a purpose in their lives, Dr. Hanson explains that they will feel a sense of safety, satisfaction, and connection. In addition, fulfilling these needs derives in a feeling of accomplishments, gratitude, and success.
Therefore, the more people have a sense of appreciation and love; the more they can progress their positive attitude, the more they are going to stay in the responsive mode. Taking everything into account, this is true happiness. People have all the necessary tools to make the choice. The secret lies on not focusing on others but focus more on oneself. If people do not feel a positive environment around them, then leave it, happiness is positive attitude, healthy life as well as meaning. Life is too short to spend it around negative people or places, people have the choice.