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What Is Happiness?

Happiness is something that people seek to find, yet what defines happiness can vary from one person to the next. When most people talk about the true meaning of happiness, they might be talking about how they feel in the present moment or referring to a more general sense of how they feel about life overall.

Happiness Definition:

Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction.

Because happiness tends to be such a broadly defined term, psychologists and other social scientists typically use the term 'subjective well-being' when they talk about this emotional state. Just as it sounds, subjective well-being tends to focus on an individual's overall personal feelings about their life in the present.

Two key components of happiness (or subjective well-being) are:

The balance of emotions: Everyone experiences both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and moods. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative ones.

Life satisfaction: This relates to how satisfied you feel with different areas of your life including your relationships, work, achievements, and other things that you consider important.

Another definition of happiness comes from the ancient philosopher Aristotle, who suggested that happiness is the one human desire, and all other human desires exist as a way to obtain happiness. He believed that there were four levels of happiness: happiness from immediate gratification, from comparison and achievement, from making positive contributions, and from achieving fulfillment.

Happiness, Aristotle suggested, could be achieved through the golden mean, which involves finding a balance between deficiency and excess.

Signs of Happiness:

While perceptions of happiness may be different from one person to the next, there are some key signs that psychologists look for when measuring and assessing happiness.

Some key signs of happiness include:

  • Feeling like you are living the life you wanted
  • Going with the flow and a willingness to take life as it comes
  • Feeling that the conditions of your life are good
  • Enjoying positive, healthy relationships with other people
  • Feeling that you have accomplished (or will accomplish) what you want in life
  • Feeling satisfied with your life
  • Feeling positive more than negative
  • Being open to new ideas and experiences
  • Practicing self-care and treating yourself with kindness and compassion
  • Experiencing gratitude
  • Feeling that you are living life with a sense of meaning and purpose
  • Wanting to share your happiness and joy with others

One important thing to remember is that happiness isn't a state of constant euphoria. Instead, happiness is an overall sense of experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones.

Happy people still feel the whole range of human emotions—anger, frustration, boredom, loneliness, and even sadness—from time to time. But even when faced with discomfort, they have an underlying sense of optimism that things will get better, that they can deal with what is happening, and that they will be able to feel happy again.

Types of Happiness

There are many different ways of thinking about happiness. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle made a distinction between two different kinds of happiness: hedonia and eudaimonia.

Hedonia: Hedonic happiness is derived from pleasure. It is most often associated with doing what feels good, self-care, fulfilling desires, experiencing enjoyment, and feeling a sense of satisfaction.

Eudaimonia: This type of happiness is derived from seeking virtue and meaning. Important components of eudaimonic well-being including feeling that your life has meaning, value, and purpose. It is associated more with fulfilling responsibilities, investing in long-term goals, concern for the welfare of other people, and living up to personal ideals.

Hedonia and eudemonia are more commonly known today in psychology as pleasure and meaning, respectively. More recently, psychologists have suggested the addition of the third component that relates to engagement. These are feelings of commitment and participation in different areas of life.

Research suggests that happy people tend to rank pretty high on eudaimonic life satisfaction and better than average on their hedonic life satisfaction.

All of these can play an important role in the overall experience of happiness, although the relative value of each can be highly subjective. Some activities may be both pleasurable and meaningful, while others might skew more one way or the other.

For example, volunteering for a cause you believe in might be more meaningful than pleasurable. Watching your favorite tv show, on the other hand, might rank lower in meaning and higher on pleasure.

Some types of happiness that may fall under these three main categories include:

  • Joy: A often relatively brief feeling that is felt in the present moment
  • Excitement: A happy feeling that involves looking forward to something with positive anticipation
  • Gratitude: A positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative
  • Pride: A feeling of satisfaction in something that you have accomplished
  • Optimism: This is a way of looking at life with a positive, upbeat outlook
  • Contentment: This type of happiness involves a sense of satisfaction.

How to Cultivate Happiness?

While some people just tend to be naturally happier, there are things that you can do to cultivate your sense of happiness.

Pursue Intrinsic Goals:

Achieving goals that you are intrinsically motivated to pursue, particularly ones that are focused on personal growth and community, can help boost happiness. Research suggests that pursuing these types of intrinsically-motivated goals can increase happiness more than pursuing extrinsic goals like gaining money or status.

Enjoy the Moment:

Studies have found that people tend to over-earn, they become so focused on accumulating things that they lose track of actually enjoying what they are doing.

So, rather than falling into the trap of mindlessly accumulating to the detriment of your own happiness, focus on practicing gratitude for the things you have and enjoying the process as you go.

Reframe Negative Thoughts: 

When you find yourself stuck in a pessimistic outlook or experiencing negativity, look for ways that you can reframe your thoughts in a more positive way.

People have a natural negativity bias, or a tendency to pay more attention to bad things than to good things. This can have an impact on everything from how you make decisions to how you form impressions of other people. Discounting the positive—a cognitive distortion where people focus on the negative and ignore the positive—can also contribute to negative thoughts.

Reframing these negative perceptions isn't about ignoring the bad. Instead, it means trying to take a more balanced, realistic look at events. It allows you to notice patterns in your thinking and then challenge negative thoughts.

Impact of Happiness

Why is happiness so important? Happiness has been shown to predict positive outcomes in many different areas of life including mental well-being, physical health, and overall longevity.

Positive emotions increase satisfaction with life.

Happiness helps people build stronger coping skills and emotional resources.

Positive emotions are linked to better health and longevity. One study found that people who experienced more positive emotions than negative ones were more likely to have survived over a 13 year period.

Positive feelings increase resilience. Resilience helps people better manage stress and bounce back better when faced with setbacks. For example, one study found that happier people tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and that these benefits tend to persist over time.

People who report having a positive state of well-being are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours such as eating fruits and vegetables and engaging in regular physical exercise.

Being happy may make help you get sick less often. Happier mental states are linked to increased immunity.

How to Be a Happier Person? 

Some people seem to have a naturally higher baseline for happiness—one large-scale study of more than 2,000 twins suggested that around 50% of overall life satisfaction was due to genetics, 10% to external events, and 40% to individual activities.

So while you might not be able to control what your “base level” of happiness is, there are things that you can do to make your life happier and more fulfilling. Even the happiest of individuals can feel down from time to time and happiness is something that all people need to consciously pursue.

  • Cultivate Strong Relationships 

Social support is an essential part of well-being. Research has found that good social relationships are the strongest predictor of happiness. Having positive and supportive connections with people you care about can provide a buffer against stress, improve your health, and help you become a happier person.

In the Harvard Study of Adult Development, a longitudinal study that looked at participants over 80 years, researchers found that relationships and how happy people are in those relationships strongly impacted overall health.

So if you are trying to improve your happiness, cultivating solid social connections is a great place to start. Consider deepening your existing relationships and explore ways to make new friends.

  • Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is good for both your body and mind. Physical activity is linked to a range of physical and psychological benefits including improved mood. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise may play a role in warding off symptoms of depression, but evidence also suggests that it may also help make people happier, too.

In one analysis of past research on the connection between physical activity and happiness, researchers found a consistent positive link.

Even a little bit of exercise produces a happiness boost—people who were physically active for as little as 10 minutes a day or who worked out only once a week had higher levels of happiness than people who never exercised.

  • Show Gratitude  

In one study, participants were asked to engage in a writing exercise for 10 to 20 minutes each night before bed. Some were instructed to write about daily hassles, some about neutral events, and some about things they were grateful for. The results found that people who had written about gratitude had increase positive emotions, increased subjective happiness, and improve life satisfaction.

Keeping a gratitude list is a relatively easy, affordable, simple, and pleasant way to boost your mood. Try setting aside a few minutes each night to write down or think about things in your life that you are grateful for.

Why You Should Write Down the Things You're Grateful for Each Day?

  • Find a Sense of Purpose

Research has found that people who feel like they have a purpose have better well-being and feel more fulfilled. A sense of purpose involves seeing your life as having goals, direction, and meaning. It may help improve happiness by promoting healthier behaviours.

Some things you can do to help find a sense of purpose include:

  • Explore your interests and passions
  • Engage in pro-social and altruistic causes
  • Work to address injustices
  • Look for new things you might want to learn more about

This sense of purpose is influenced by a variety of factors, but it is also something that you can cultivate. It involves finding a goal that you care deeply about that will lead you to engage in productive, positive actions in order to work toward that goal.

Challenges of Finding Happiness

While seeking happiness is important, there are times when the pursuit of life satisfaction falls short. Some challenges to watch for include:

  • Valuing the Wrong Things

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but there is research that spending money on things like experiences can make you happier than spending it on material possessions.

One study, for example, found that spending money on things that buy time—such as spending money on time-saving services—can increase happiness and life satisfaction.15

Rather than overvaluing things such as money, status, or material possessions, pursuing goals that result in more free time or enjoyable experiences may have a higher happiness reward.

  • Not Seeking Social Support

Social support means having friends and loved ones that you can turn to for support. Research has found that perceived social support plays an important role in subjective well-being. For example, one study found that perceptions of social support were responsible for 43% of a person's level of happiness.

It is important to remember that when it comes to social support, quality is more important than quantity. Having just a few very close and trusted friends will have a greater impact on your overall happiness than having many casual acquaintances.

  • Thinking of Happiness as an Endpoint

Happiness isn’t a goal that you can simply reach and be done with. It is a constant pursuit that requires continual nurturing and sustenance.

One study found that people who tend to value happiness most also tended to feel the least satisfied with their lives. Essentially, happiness becomes such a lofty goal that it becomes virtually unattainable.

Experts suggest, "Valuing happiness could be self-defeating because the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed".

Perhaps the lesson is to not make something as broadly defined as “happiness” your goal. Instead, focus on building and cultivating the sort of life and relationships that bring fulfillment and satisfaction to your life.

It is also important to consider how you personally define happiness. Happiness is a broad term that means different things to different people. Rather than looking at happiness as an endpoint, it can be more helpful to think about what happiness really means to you and then work on small things that will help you become happier. This can make achieving these goals more manageable and less overwhelming.

History of Happiness

Happiness has long been recognized as a critical part of health and well-being. The "pursuit of happiness" is even given as an inalienable right in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Our understanding of what will bring happiness, however, has shifted over time.

Psychologists have also proposed a number of different theories to explain how people experience and pursue happiness. These theories include:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

The hierarchy of needs suggests that people are motivated to pursue increasingly complex needs. Once more basic needs are fulfilled, people are then motivated by more psychological and emotional needs.

At the peak of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, or the need to achieve one's full potential. The theory also stresses the importance of peak experiences or transcendent moments in which a person feels deep understanding, happiness, and joy.

Positive Psychology:

The pursuit of happiness is central to the field of positive psychology. Psychologists who study positive psychology are interested in learning ways to increase positivity and helping people live happier, more satisfying lives.

Rather than focusing on mental pathologies, the field instead strives to find ways to help people, communities, and societies improve positive emotions and achieve greater happiness.

How to Find Happiness In Your Life?

Things You Can Do to Make Yourself Happy:

  • Quickly organise your kitchen
  • Climb up or down the staircase
  • Look at the nature: trees, birds, sky, the horizon, the sun, the moon and the stars, the rainbow, high-rise buildings, temple paintings, and carvings, etc.

Happiness Everywhere!

  • “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

  • “Happiness is the art of never holding in your mind the memory of any unpleasant thing that has passed.” - Unknown

  • “To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” - Albert Camus

  • “If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.'
    If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
    If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
    If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
    - Chinese Proverb

  • “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” - Ashley Montagu

  • “Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.” - Stacey Charter

  • “It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” - Dale Carnegie

  • “It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” - Lucille Ball

  • “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

  • “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” - Epictetus

  • “We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” - Frederick Keonig

  • “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

  • “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” - Eskimo Proverb

  • “To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” - Mary Stuart

  • “There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.” - Seneca

  • “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” - Robert A. Heinlein

  • “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” - Dennis Waitley

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

  • “The only joy in the world is to begin.” - Cesare Pavese

  • “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” - Oscar Wilde

  • “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Marthe Troly-Curtin

  • “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon” - Winnie the Pooh

  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” - Herman Cain

  • “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” - Confucius

  • “There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.” - Anthony de Mello

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

  • “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” - Helen Keller

  • “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” - Aristotle

  • “It is more fitting for a man to laugh at life than to lament over it.” - Seneca

  • “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.” - Marcel Pagnol

  • “If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.” - Joseph Addison

  • “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • “The pleasure which we most rarely experience gives us greatest delight.” - Epictetus 

  • “It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” - L.M. Montgomery 

  • “Happiness is acceptance.” - Unknown 

  • “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.” - James M. Barrie

  • “We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.” - Dalai Lama 

  • “Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.” - Dr. Robert Anthony

  • “The unhappy derive comfort from the misfortunes of others.” - Aesop 

  • “For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.” - Seneca

  • “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” - Albert Einstein

  • “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” - Bertrand Russell 

  • “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • “Happiness is a myth we seek,
    If manifested surely irks;
    Like river speeding to the plain,
    On its arrival slows and murks.
    For man is happy only in
    His aspiration to the heights;
    When he attains his goal, he cools
    And longs for other distant flights.”
    - Kahlil Gibran

  • “Happiness is a state of activity.” - Aristotle

  • “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

  • “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius 

  • “The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.” - Arthur Schopenhauer

  • “Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other – it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.” - Charles Caleb Colton

  • “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” - Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

  • “Happy he who learns to bear what he cannot change.” - Friedrich Schiller

  • “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” - Winston Churchill

  • “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.” - Andy Rooney

  • “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”- James Oppenheim

  • “I'd far rather be happy than right any day.” - Douglas Adams

  • “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”- Benjamin Disraeli

  • “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” - Albert Schweitzer

  • “Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.” - Heraclitus

  • “Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object.” - Herman Hesse

  • “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” - Martha Washington

  • “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

  • “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • “Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.” - Rose Lane 

  • “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” - Albert Ellis

  • “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.” - Groucho Marx

  • “Just because it didn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.” - Unknown 

  • “Your work is discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”- Buddha

  • “That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” - Henry David Thoreau

  • “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”  - Maxim Gorky

  • “A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” - Leo Tolstoy

  • “It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”- F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • “If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.” - Epicurus 

  • “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” - William Feather

  • “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” - John Henry Jowett

  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

  • “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” - Confucius 

  • “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” - Proverb

  • “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” - Helen Keller

  • “For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his/her happiness on major events like a great job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.” - Andy Rooney

  • “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.” - Buddha

  • “The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.” - Andre Maurois

  • “The grass is always greener where you water it.” - Unknown
  • “Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” - Marquis de Condorcet

  • “On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” - Eckhart Tolle

  • “The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life.” - Brian Tracy

  • “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” - Marcel Proust

  • “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” - George Bernard Shaw

  • “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.” - Leo Buscaglia

  • “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”- William Arthur Ward

  • “Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.” - Mary Lou Retton

  • “I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.” - Dalai Lama

  • “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” -  Joseph Campbell

  • “Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” - Leo Tolstoy

  • “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln

  • “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”- Unknown

  • “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burnt in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?  When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” - Kahlil Gibran

  • “If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” - Morris West

  • “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.”- Milton Erickson

  • “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

  • “There's nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” - Stephen Chbosky

  • “Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.” - Roy T. Bennett

  • “Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.” - Benjamin Franklin

  • “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it's all that matters.” - Audrey Hepburn

  • “Children are happy because they don't have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.” - Marianne Williamson

  • “Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.” - Gordon B. Hinckley

  • “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” - Albert Einstein

  • “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” - Nelson Mandela

  • “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” - G.K. Chesterton

  • “Others may know pleasure, but pleasure is not happiness. It has no more importance than a shadow following a man.” - Muhammad Ali

  • “Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.” - Chinese proverb

  • “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” - M. Scott Peck

  • “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” - Hunter S. Thompson

  • “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” - Tom Bodett

  • “Do not set aside your happiness. Do not wait to be happy in the future. The best time to be happy is always now.” - Roy T. Bennett

  • “Happiness is not doing fun things. Happiness is doing meaningful things.” - Maxime Lagacé

  • “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

  • “I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.” - Nikos Kazantzakis

  • “Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness.” - David Steindl-Rast

  • “It’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness.” - Richard Branson

  • “Every day is a new day, and you'll never be able to find happiness if you don't move on.” - Carrie Underwood

  • “I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” - Diane Ackerman

  • “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” - George Washington Burnap

  • “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” - Helen Keller

  • “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” - Andrew Carnegie

  • “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” - Roald Dahl

  • “You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair.” - Chinese proverb

  • “In our lives, change is unavoidable, loss is unavoidable. In the adaptability and ease with which we experience change, lies our happiness and freedom.” - Buddha

  • “There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

  • “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” - Seneca

  • “Happiness is a warm puppy.” - Charles M. Schulz

  • “Happiness is not a goal…it's a by-product of a life well-lived.” - Eleanor Roosevelt 

  • The mere sense of living is joy enough.” - mily Dickinson

  • “Happiness is a state of mind. It's just according to the way you look at things.” - Walt Disney

  • “Simplicity makes me happy.” - Alicia Keys

  • “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • “Roll with the punches and enjoy every minute of it.” - Meghan Markle

  • “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.” - Elbert Hubbard

  • “Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.” - Christian Dior

  • “All happiness depends on courage and work.” - Honoré de Balzac

  • “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” - Ernest Hemingway

  • “Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” - Ram Dass

  • “Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” - Guillaume Apollinaire

  • “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” - Jonathan Safran Foer

  • “The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” - Louisa May Alcott

  • “That’s your unlimited desires that are clouding your peace, your happiness.” - Naval Ravikant

  • “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” - Anaïs Nin

  • “The constant happiness is curiosity.”- Alice Munro

  • “The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are.” - Goldie Hawn

  • “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” - Anne Frank

  • “Independence is happiness.” - Susan B. Anthony

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

  • “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” - Marcus Aurelius

  • “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” - Rita Mae Brown

  • “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” - Lou Holtz 

  • “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” - Oscar Wilde

  • “We become what we think about.” - Earl Nightingale

  • “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get” - W. P. Kinsella

  • “Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.” - Charles Dickens

  • “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”- Benjamin Franklin

  • “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” - Mark Twain

  • “Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.” - Robert Frost

  • “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” - Mahatma Gandhi

  • “Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.” - Ayn Rand

  • “If you want to be happy, be.”- Leo Tolstoy

  • “The truly wise and happy are never rushed.”- Maxime La

  • “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”- Anton Chekhov

  • “Happiness [is] only real when shared”- Jon Krakauer

  • “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”- Omar Khayyam- “I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I'd invented it, because it is very true.”- Audrey Hepburn

  • “Be happy. It really annoys negative people.”- Ricky Gervais

  • “This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”- Douglas Adams

  • “Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.”- Benjamin Franklin

  • “Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.”- Stephen Hawking

  • “A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future.”- Denis Waitley

  • “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”- Dale Carnegie

  • “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”- Gustave Flaubert

  • “Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.”- Will Ferrell

  • “Every time you feel yourself being pulled into other people’s drama, repeat these word: Not my circus, not my monkeys.”- Polish Proverb

  • “I may be a living legend, but that sure don't help when I've got to change a flat tire.”- Roy Orbison

  • “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”- Will Rogers

  • “Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.”- Cullen Hightower

  • “You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.”- Chris Rock

  • “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”- Theodore Roosevelt

  • “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” - George Burns


We need happiness in our lives because happiness has many advantages. Being happy has numerous benefits, as the science of positive psychology has been evidenced over the last few decades. Happier people outperform others in many positive ways.

In life, there are hundreds of happiness, and life itself, is great happiness.

A’s (Advantages) and B’s (Benefits) of happier people:

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay 

1. Happy People Are Healthier 

Happy people have better physical health and report fewer unpleasant physical symptoms. They have much fewer hospital and emergency room visits, call their doctor less frequently, use less medication, and have fewer work absences.

They also experience less pain and have a higher pain threshold.

Happy people have better mental health than their less happy social group members.

They have fewer symptoms of mental diseases, such as hypochondriasis, schizophrenia, social phobia, anxiety, or depression. Happy people are also less likely to report a history of drug abuse.

Jose de Jesus Garcia Vega, Professor of Economics and the Director of the Center for Well-being Studies at the University of Monterrey, Mexico, has famously written in the World Book of Happiness:

It is often said that people spend the best years of their life trying to make money and sacrificing their health and their family, only to spend the rest of their days paying that same money to recover their lost health and their estranged family!

Overall, happier people have less depression and suicide, and greater self-control and coping skills. They also live longer on average, up to 10 years more. [The Nun Study]

Heli Koivumaa-Honkanen, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, whose research found dissatisfaction in life is linked to a higher risk of death from disease, says:

Healthy people are not happier. The reverse is true: happy people are healthier.

2. Happy People Have Better Relationships And Marriages 

Relationships are of utmost importance for the creation of our happiness. When we stay socially connected to our community, friends, and family, we are happier, healthier, and live longer.

Happy people have more friends and better social support and are more satisfied with their friends and their activities together.

In one study, the researchers found the top 10 percent of the happiest college students had high-quality relationships. They were less jealous and had stronger contact with their family members.

My empirical study of well-being among 1,600 Harvard undergraduates found a similar result — social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor, more than GPA, family income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race.

In fact, the correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7. This may not sound like a big number, but for researchers it’s huge—most psychology findings are considered significant when they hit 0.3.

The point is, the more social support you have, the happier you are. — Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

Happy people also have more fulfilling marriages. Marriages are more likely to succeed when couples experience a 5:1 positive ratio. [The Gottman Institute]

They tend to have more satisfaction in their marriages. Researchers have found there is indeed a strong relationship between happiness and satisfaction with marriage and family.

Happy people who are either married or in committed relationships more often describe their partner as being their “great love” than their less happy friends.

happy people

3. Happy People Are More Successful 

Success doesn’t make us happy; but being happy makes us successful, as many studies have proved. Happiness also makes you more productive.

Happy people are more satisfied with their jobs, are more productive, and earn more than their colleagues. They also make better and faster decisions.

In fact, the economists at Warwick University found that people primed to feel happy during an experiment were 11% more productive. Companies with happy employees perform better than the stock market index year after year.

Happiness improves your ability to problem-solve. Happy doctors make faster and more accurate diagnoses.

In a 2007 study that followed over 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74 for 20 years, Laura Kubzansky, Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found emotional vitality — a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, and engagement in life — appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in both men and women.

Kubzansky found that optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half. She wrote in her paper:

Findings suggest that individuals with higher levels of emotional vitality had reduced risk of developing CHD during a 15-year follow-up period. Further analyses indicated that one mechanism underlying this relationship may be health behaviors.

Greater emotional vitality was significantly associated with less smoking, higher alcohol consumption, and more physical activity; after including these behaviors in the models, the relationship between emotional vitality and incident CHD was attenuated.

However, the association remained significant after controlling for these behaviors as well as a history of psychological problems, use of psychotropic medications, current depressive symptoms, and other covariates.

Now, you might be wondering if hope and optimism are the same or different items in psychology? Find your answers here: Hope vs Optimism.

4. Happy People Are More Resilient

Now happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times—but it is also being able to cope effectively when times are inevitably bad. Positive experiences and positive emotions build our resilience.

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from hardships. Resilient people not only recover but also grow afterwards to build the best possible life

Resilient people face their fears head on, keep a positive mindset in the face of adversity, and look for meaning in traumatic experiences. They are tenacious in their efforts to lift themselves out of misery, always eager to learn new ways to solve problems, and not hesitant to seek help when things become overwhelming.

A study found brief moments of positive emotions that occur on a day-to-day basis, such as laughing with friends or doing something you enjoy, help build resilience. Barbara Fredrickson found that repeating positive emotions leads to a “broaden-and-build” effect, which helps build up resilience in the face of life’s obstacles.

Another study found psychological resilience may be a resource to increase life satisfaction and happiness and reduce psychological distress in chronically ill patients.

5. Happy People Are More Pro-social, Generous, And Helpful 

Happy people are more pro-social and seem more inclined to help others. Pro-social behavior is defined as conduct driven by an intent to benefit others.

A large body of research indicates spending time helping others has emotional advantages for the helper, like greater life satisfaction, more positive affect, and reduced depression.

Volunteering is generous behavior and is defined as helping others with no expectation of monetary compensation. Available data provide compelling evidence that there is a reliable link between volunteering and various measures of subjective well-being. And this effect is universal across various cultures.

Formal volunteering benefits older people more. People who score higher on depressive symptoms also report higher levels of well-being boosts from volunteering.

Pro-social spending or spending on others is related to higher levels of happiness, apparently via activating the reward centers in the brain. People who spent more money on others in a typical month—by giving gifts and donating to charity—reported greater happiness, as was found in a survey of 600 Americans (Dunn et al, 2008). 

Research also says how much money you spend on yourself in a typical month has little to do with your happiness.

Activities that turn good deeds into happy feelings:

People are more likely to enjoy helping others when they have the freedom to choose whether or not to help.

When people feel connected to those they are helping, they are more likely to receive joy from their efforts.

People are more likely to find satisfaction in helping others when they can see how their support is making a difference.

Why Is Being Happy Better?

Why should we prefer to be happy when we could be our everyday selves, or even unhappy?

Why do most people try to be happy? It’s popular to say it’s because they want to enjoy their life, but the question still remains: why do they want to be happier?

After years of research, psychologists have found a happy person is more likely to succeed at work, make friends, and be more productive.

Not only that, but being happy makes us feel better in general and even makes us more attractive to others. The benefits of happiness are often overlooked, but they can be profound.

The right attitude can be the key to lasting happiness.

Scientists have been studying happiness for a long time, and they have found many positive effects of happiness: less aggression, more compassion, higher self-esteem, less anxiety, lower blood pressure, and a longer lifespan.

When we are happy, we feel better about ourselves; we make others around us happier and more productive.

A large-scale study of over 2,400 British adults found those who scored high on measures of life satisfaction and lived in areas with high levels of sun exposure, reported experiencing an average of 16% higher levels of life satisfaction.

In comparison, those who scored well on the same measures lived in areas of low solar exposure. Less sunlight in the winter months is known to cause winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Research studies on happiness consistently point to higher levels of happiness because of increased self-esteem and a sense of well-being, and lower levels of stress. But do these changes last?

The answer is yes—in the long term. According to the latest research, the benefits of happiness include a stronger immune system, higher self-esteem, and lower levels of anxiety.

A 2020 study found there is a growing class divide in happiness. While many of the “have nots” of the economy became increasingly unhappy, the happiness advantage favoring the “haves” expanded between the 1970s and the 2010s.

According to the science of positive psychology, happiness is a choice. It is not the result of genetics or luck, but a choice you make to become a more satisfied and content person.

Positive psychology can help you overcome negative thoughts and automatically make a choice that will put you on the path to a happier, more productive life.

Positive psychology is the study of human strengths and virtues. This branch of psychology looks at what makes people happy. As a topic, positive psychology has exploded in recent years, and it’s become a hot topic for researchers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs alike. In the past few years, there have been many studies focusing on the positive effects of happiness, and they are increasing in number by the day.

Does Happiness Increase Immunity? 

Scientific evidence suggests being happy may boost our immune system. Sheldon Cohen and his colleagues (2003) found people who were happy, lively, calm, or exhibited other positive emotions like optimism, were less likely to become ill when exposed to a cold virus than those who reported fewer of these emotions. They also found that when happy people did come down with a cold, they had fewer symptoms.

A 2006 study by Cohen had the same result: people who reported positive emotions were less likely to catch colds and were also less likely to report symptoms when they did get sick.

Can A Person Learn To Be Happier? 

Yes, happiness is a learnable skill. You can learn to be happy. You can teach yourself and others to be happier. Research shows our happiness levels can change notably over our lifetimes, and that itself suggests happiness may be a skill that can be learned over the years.

Richard J. Davidson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has found mindfulness training for even 2 weeks, for 30 minutes a day, can result in measurable changes in the brains of the participants. This ability of the brain to change its form and function is called neuroplasticity. He suggests, therefore, that we can raise our happiness levels by regular practice of mindfulness.

Davidson says, “Everything we’ve learned about the brain suggests that it’s (i.e., happiness is) no different than learning to play the violin or learning to engage in a complex sport. If you practice at it, you’ll get better at it.”

Matthieu Ricard, molecular geneticist, author, and Buddhist monk, says, “Happiness is a skill, but it is a skill that has many components, and each of those components are constructive ways of being, like altruism or benevolence, compassion, inner peace, inner strength, inner freedom.”

By the way, a skill is the ability to do something well. It is a capability you develop through practice or experience. And happiness is a skill that can be learnt and honed.

And it should be learnt because it can help you live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

People who are happier have modest and realistic aspirations.

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