Scientifically, a person feels happy when the brain releases neurotransmitters; these neurotransmitters are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Each of these neurotransmitters helps to regulate sleep, mood, appetite, emotional response, movement, and the brain’s pleasure and rewards centers. A balance of all these factors leads to a sense of feeling content, which many people attribute to feeling generally happy.
According to Greek philosophy, happiness has two major concepts, hedonia and eudaimonia. These simply translate to pleasure and meaning in contemporary psychology. Hedonia considers happiness as a destination; this concept of happiness is derived from external factors, such as buying a new car. The concept of eudaimonia considers happiness as a journey; eudaimonia implies that happiness is derived from internal factors, such as achieving a personal or spiritual goal.
Recently, another component of has been added to the overall concept of happiness, which is engagement. Engagement implies happiness derived from living a satisfying life of work, hobbies, friends, and family. The three aspects of pleasure, meaningfulness, and engagement are collectively termed as the subjective well-being of a person. Subjective well-being (SWB) is based on the factors and activities that a person finds fulfilling and satisfying.
An evaluation of SWBs of people across the globe found that around 50% of a person’s happiness is based on genes, 40% on daily activities, and 10% on circumstances. Thus, around 40% of a person’s happiness is completely under their control. It is up to an individual to determine what goals and activities to pursue so that they can ensure they have to satisfy and fulfilling life. Here are some ways to have better subjective well-being
- Regular exercise: Exercising releases endorphins that make the brain feel happy and improves general mood. A regular exercise routine not only keeps a person physically healthy but also psychologically healthy. It has been observed that healthy people are about 20% happier than average. Working out or simply walking or jogging every day can boost energy levels. Other forms of exercise such as yoga or tai chi can also uplift mood and keep a person motivated throughout the day.
- Practice gratitude: Being grateful for smaller things in life can add to the happiness quotient. Practicing gratitude makes a person empathetic and reduces negativity and aggression. Also, it makes a person amiable and social. Appreciating the small things in life also goes a boost to the self-esteem. Keep a gratitude journal and note down everything you are thankful for before going to bed.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of mood fluctuations. When a person does not get enough sleep, they tend to become anxious. This affects their productivity at work. The persistent bad mood due to lack of sleep also affects personal relationships. It is necessary to be well rested and sleep for enough hours.
- Stay hydrated: Nearly 60% of the body is made of water. Water is the essential fluid that keeps all the functions of the body running smoothly. This also affects the overall state of mind. Drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day.
- Go outside: Staying cooped up indoors may sound easy. However, fresh air and open surroundings have been known to uplift moods, broaden thinking capability, and improve working memory. It has been observed that spending at least 20 minutes outside in good weather can add to the general well-being of a person.