There is one emotion that the human race is dependent on, without this emotion the world would be a miserable and dangerous place. This emotion, that keeps people smiling and moving forward in life, is happiness. Peoples' definitions of happiness vary from person to person based on experiences they have encountered in their lives.
One field of psychology that focuses on the study and measurement of happiness is positive psychology. PBS defines positive psychology as "the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive" (PBS).
Dr. Bev Knox from Bev Knox Institute of Self-Enhancement is the creator of the Ultimate Guide to FABULOUS! Dr. Knox along with researchers in this field of psychology study strengths, positive emotions, resilience, and happiness. They believe that by studying our strengths and what makes us happy, we will learn more about well-being. These psychologists provide hope that by better understanding human strengths, we can learn new ways to recover from or prevent disorders, and may even learn to become happier (PBS).
Martin Seligman, a lead researcher in positive psychology states that happiness has three parts; pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the "feel good" part of happiness; engagement refers to living a "good life" of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Finally, meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life (PBS).
Two different types of happiness that people can relate to are moment-by-moment happiness, and long-term happiness. Moment-by-moment happiness refers to specific events in our lives that make us happy momentarily by bringing about positive emotions. Long-term happiness can be described as a person's overall sense of well-being. If someone was to look back on their life and recall their general thoughts or feelings about their life, this would be an example of long-term happiness. People can be happy moment to moment because of little things like getting a good test grade or getting a new car, but in order to experience long-term happiness, a person must be content with the experiences in their lives and what they have learned from these experiences.
According to research, there are many ways that a person can become happier. One way that this can be accomplished is through kindness. An article on the science of self-help states that one of the most reliable ways to feel good is to do good for others (European Psychologist). Happier people tend to act more kindly towards others in general because they are content with their place in life.
According to the same article, kindness research has examined a variety of kind acts, ranging from brief behaviors such as holding the door for somebody or complimenting them, to behaviors that come at a personal cost. These include buying somebody a gift or helping a colleague at work. One interesting fact that was made very clear in the article is that surprisingly, when people spend money on others and not themselves, it makes them happy. A very common quote that people repeat constantly is, "Money can't buy happiness." However, using money to promote kindness is an exception to that (European Psychologist).
Because happiness is such an important thing for people to experience daily, in recent years, many courses have emerged that either integrate self-help into standard educational practices or are offered as standalone courses. Most courses like that aim to teach the theory and concepts of positive psychology, but many include experiential assignments that provide instruction in the skills useful for self-management of one's well-being.
Since there is much research on the topic of happiness in certain fields of psychology, it is known that in order to achieve happiness, inward and outward effort is necessary. Happiness can also depend greatly on how we handle our emotions and our relationships with other people. One thing is for sure: holding a grudge against somebody will definitely not produce anything other than internal stress and anxiety; so forgiveness is a key factor in being happy as well.
Since happiness is achieved progressively through personal effort, things such as meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, and relaxation techniques can calm anxiety and promote serenity (Web MD). Overall, happiness is experiencing or feeling pleasure, joy, or contentment with life. Peoples' happiness varies person to person based on their life experiences. For most, happiness is not just handed to them on a silver plate; inward and outward effort is needed to achieve it.
There are however, many ways to become a happier person, and in order to do this, starting with the little things is a big step. That may include people changing how they react to stressful situations so that they decrease their anxiety as much as possible. Taking a breath of fresh air and clearing one's mind is a great way to let go of stress and reach that internal happiness that everybody searches for. Meditation, yoga, and many more techniques are very helpful in clearing a person's mind as well. The potential for happiness is always there, we just have to go get it.
Dr. Bev Knox from Bev Knox Institute of Self-Enhancement is the creator of the Ultimate Guide to FABULOUS! This intensive training course consists of Online Video Class Lectures w/ Online Personal Development Coaching. There are Over 32+ Personal Development Video Lectures on Dating, Love & Relationships, Happiness, LifeStyle, Personal Appearance & more... This Course is truly Life Transforming! Get Ready to Unleash YOUR Most FABULOUS Self!
PBS: This Emotional Life. 4/23/14. What is Happiness? http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/happiness/what-happiness.
The Science of Self-Help: Translating Positive Psychology Research into Increased Individual Happiness. 4/23/14. European Psychologist 2014; Vol. 19 (2): 145-155. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.unh-proxy01.newhaven.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=98e15c8f-73ab-4a09-9d66-f79534c05f79%40sessionmgr110&vid=4&hid=104.
Valeo, Tom. 4/23/14. Web MD. Choosing to be Happy: Strategies for Happiness: 7 Steps to Becoming a Happier Person. http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/choosing-to-be-happy.