It is an amazing time of the year. It is Christmas. People are in a rush, choosing Christmas gifts and treats. Everyone summarizes the results of the year, gathers with families, remembers ups and downs, makes plans for 2020. Do you feel happy about this very Christmas moment? I do!
I bet that every single person in this world has said many times, “I just want to be happy”! But have you ever thought about what happiness exactly is? Do you know how to define happiness? Do you think happiness is the same thing to you as it is to others? Does it even make a difference in our lives?
It really matters because it’s hard for your wishes for happiness to come true if you don´t know what it means and how you are planning to reach it. Here is my Christmas research about what Happiness means.
Definition Of Happiness.
According to Wikipedia, the term happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing, and well-being. From this definition, we can get a few important points about happiness:
- Happiness is a state, not a trait. In other words, it isn’t a long-lasting, permanent feature or personality trait, but a more changeable state.
- Happiness is equated with feeling pleasure or contentment. It means that happiness should not be confused with joy, a moment of pleasure, bliss, or other feelings.
- Happiness can be either feeling or showing, meaning that happiness is not necessarily an internal or external experience, but can be both.
Happiness, while not a permanent state, is a more stable state than pleasure. So, it generally sticks around for longer than a few moments at a time, whereas pleasure can come and go in seconds. Also, pleasure can contribute to happiness, and happiness can enhance or deepen feelings of pleasure, but the two can also be completely mutually exclusive.
As a sample, I can bring you a binge-eating. You eat, you eat a lot and you are happy in this very moment of pleasure. But when you are full, you see bad numbers at scales and you start to feel guilty and miserable.
Maslow´s Hierarchy of Happiness.
Have you ever heard about Maslow´s Pyramid? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology consisting of a five-tier model of human needs, often shown as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Maslow’s pyramid is divided into five levels of needs, from the bottom of the hierarchy upwards:
- love and belonging
These are biological and physical needs, like breathing, eating, drinking water and sleep. When these needs are not fulfilled, they become the only thing we are concerned about.
These are things such as physical safety, and needs for home, employment, income, and health. Without fulfillment of these needs, a person continually feels insecure and unprotected.
Love and Belonging Needs
These deal with our desires for deep interpersonal connections, good family relationships, friendships, and sexual intimacy. Without them, we might become depressed or experience loneliness.
These are needs like self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and being respected by others.
These deal with creativity, spontaneity and problem-solving. They are met if we can become everything we are capable of becoming. Self-actualizing people have a grounded sense of well-being and satisfaction. And a sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude about life.
We are all different, with different goals and moments of happiness. I truly believe that for ones it is happiness to have water, to have food. For others, it is a moment of high self-esteem, for thirds, it´s personal achievements and pride of their families.
Where are you now? Where is your stair of happiness?
Happiness and Life Satisfaction Research
Released annually on the International Day of Happiness, the World Happiness Report ranks countries based on their life satisfaction. Residents rate how satisfied they are with their lives on a scale of 0-10, from the worst possible life to the best possible life.
According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, negative feelings are rising around the world. The study also shows a widening gap in happiness, with some people reporting far more well-being and others showing far less in different countries.
This year, the happiest country was Finland, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands.
The report also analyzes how global happiness has changed over time, based on data stretching back to 2005. One trend is very clear: Negative feelings—worry, sadness, and anger—have been rising around the world, up by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018.
Studies also show that since 2007, happiness inequality has been rising within countries. This trend is particularly strong in Latin America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The following table, adapted from Kahneman and Krueger (2006), provides a list of the variables that researchers have found to be related to self-reported happiness and life satisfaction.
I would also add here the weather. As I live in Estonia and there are so few sunny days during the year, I can feel and see how people are more motivated and happier when the sun is shining.
Overall the conclusion is, that the wealth of the country, good people around, self physical and mental health, self-income, all this make people happy all over the world.
My Moment of Happiness
I totally agree with Maslow´s Pyramid. Here is the whole overview of the happiness that I want to reach. I am almost there, almost on the top. When you reach the top of the pyramid and will feel that your abilities mean something for other people, you are useful, you have found your place in the world, your parents are proud of you- this is the true moment of happiness for me.
Only now, when I am 33 I understood what is my path, where is my happiness. All the diets in the world, best parties, prettiest clothes, the most attractive foods, money have never made me happy for a long time. They are moments of pleasure, but inside you feel useless and weak.
I am so proud of myself that I became much stronger and I know where I should move! I can say out loud that I am happy and become happier with every step I´m doing.
Happiness is not feeling constant pleasure. It is not about having a lot of money. Happiness is not even a destination. Happiness is having satisfaction and meaning in life. It’s the ability to feel positive emotions. The ability to overcome negative emotions. The ability to connect with others. Move on, dream on, look for your moment of happiness. Reach your goals and never give up! Merry Christmas! 🎄