The Science of Happiness
Generally speaking, happiness is a positive emotional state with one's own life or current situation. Due to its subjectivity, every person may have their own definition of what it means to be happy. People may attribute it to career or financial success, time spent with loved ones, or everything in between.
Under this more recent branch of psychology, happiness is scientifically studied through the positive aspects of life and how they contribute to overall well-being.
The concept of happiness is usually categorized as either hedonic or eudaimonic. Hedonic happiness is achieved through experiences of pleasure and pain avoidance, while eudaimonic happiness is achieved through a sense of personal fulfillment. It is widely agreed upon that both are necessary to achieve a desired baseline of contentment.
How To Boost Happiness
Here are some ways in which you can alter your thoughts and behaviors to lead a healthier life, mentally and physically:
- Be optimistic
- Carry out acts of kindness: Altruistic behaviors are associated with greater health and longevity.
- Make time for your hobbies: Incorporating passions into your life builds up a sense of life satisfaction through personal fulfillment.
- Live in the moment: Try not to constantly dwell on the past or worry about the future.
- Spend time outdoors: Going outside reduces stress, promotes social connections, and can make you feel more alive.
- Practice self-care: Maintain a healthy and consistent diet, sleep & exercise routine, and work-life balance.
- Socialize: Humans are naturally social beings. Making time for relationships with those close to us promotes feelings of connectedness and belongingness.
- Practice mindfulness: Being present and aware allows you to reduce stress and be more open & creative.
- Dopamine: Plays an important role in the brain's reward system and motivation
- Oxytocin: Regulates emotions & behaviors and is essential for the female reproductive system (often called the "love hormone" due to its release when we hug or bond with others).
- Serotonin: Balances mood, anxiety, appetite, and sleep.
- Endorphins: Aids in pain relief and is triggered during activities like exercise (this is where the term "runner's high" comes from).
Ways to Get Your Daily D.O.S.E.
Vitamins & Minerals
A large part of your overall happiness and well-being is in your control. Focusing on things that you have the power to improve on such as diet and lifestyle choices can, in turn, allow you to manage your happiness at least to some degree. If you have a deficiency or find that you're unable to to consume foods that are naturally high in these vitamins and minerals, consider trying out supplements to meet the recommended daily intake!
These are some of the major nutrients found in everyday food sources that play a role in your happiness quotient:
- Vitamin B: There are 8 types of B vitamins. They can help manage stress, stabilize mood, regulate brain function, influence emotional responses, provide an energy boost, and are needed for the production of serotonin.
- Vitamin C: Tacking on to the long list of vitamin C benefits is its ability to improve mood and reduce anxiety & depression.
- Vitamin D: Known as the "sunshine vitamin" due to its source of sun exposure, vitamin D regulates mood and wards off depression.
- Magnesium: Helps boost & balance mood and regulates hormones. Low serotonin levels have also been linked to magnesium deficiency.
- Omega-3s: Impact your mental health and have been shown to relieve depression in some studies. Mostly found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel.
Did You Know...
Happiness is contagious. A multitude of research and self-report studies have been done on the spread of positivity both online such as through social media and in person, such as with acts of kindness.
For instance, hearing good news puts you in a better mood, leading you to make others around you happier, creating a domino effect of positive influence. Think of it this way: if you're around a sad person, you're mood will likely drop, whereas with a happy person, you're bound to get a happiness boost! This stresses the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. You could be more likely to be a happier person yourself in the long run.
👇 Let us know below: How do YOU define happiness? 👇
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