Happiness: what it depends on and how to be happy

Happiness: what it depends on and how to be happy

Publication date: 16-06-2023

Updated on: 14-07-2023

Topic: Mental health

Estimated reading time: 1 min

The International Day of Happiness was eEstablished in 2012 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, it is an event that aims to celebrate happiness in all its forms through educational activities to develop public awareness and moments to raise awareness of the importance of happiness.

Happiness is, however, something that each of us perceives differently: for many it is success, for others it is wealth, for still others it is giving or letting go. Our expert Dr. Alice di Paolo, a psychologist at the Istituti Clinici Zucchi in Monza, explains what it stems from and how to achieve it.

What is happiness?

"The term "felicity" comes from Latin, where the root "fe" means abundant wealth and prosperity. In psychology, happiness corresponds to a positive emotional state, a feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Happiness is thus associated with a set of emotions that provide abundant well-being," Dr. Di Paolo indicates.

What happens when we experience happiness?

In our brains when we experience happy moments, the responsible neurotransmitters are activated: 

  • dopamine that can control the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction;
  • serotonin that makes us feel important and motivated;
  • oxytocin related to romantic relationships;
  • endorphins that act against pain;
  • adrenaline that helps us stay calm in stressful times;
  • GABA which acts as a calming agent in our nervous system.

"On the physical level, however, without a doubt, a smile is the indicator that confirms we are happy: we are kinder, more confident about the future and grateful to life." 

How to seek happiness?

"Happiness is a state of mind that is not entirely objective; finding it depends on each person's individual characteristics. One secret to learning to be happy is to live in the present, appreciating everyday life and the company of the people we love, favoring positive thoughts versus negative ones. It should not be looked for outside, but it is within us. It is essential to learn to welcome sad moments, where crying is necessary and also to be alone. Without sadness we could not understand happiness," the expert continues.

Here are some tips on how to 'feel happy': 

  • learning to know ourselves better by interpreting our thoughts;
  • not living in the past or future because it diverts our attention from what we have available to us in the present;
  • not being afraid to be happy or thinking that we do not deserve it: many people prefer to be unhappy because they are afraid of the unknown;
  • evaluating one's everyday life in a positive way (so-called positive psychology), that is, considering the same situation or condition differently depending on one's point of view.

Take responsibility for your own happiness!

Happiness is an emotion that we all feel and that coexists daily with many other emotions. To fully experience it, we must give it space, make it fit into our comfort-zone and become responsible for it: 

  • socializing with other people;
  • by sharing emotions;
  • by learning to appreciate what one has;
  • by learning to accept oneself;
  • by doing movement and physical activity.

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