Happiness And Wellbeing

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Happiness And Wellbeing
Happiness And Wellbeing
Video: Happiness And Wellbeing
Video: The science of Subjective Well Being, a.k.a Happiness. 2023, February
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Happiness & wellbeing

Happiness has a personal meaning for everyone. Another fact is that being happy promotes health, both physically and mentally. This is not about constantly ignoring unpleasant feelings.

Because that would not be beneficial in the long run. Anger, sadness & Co. are part of life. But if you learn to enjoy positive feelings, you gain a lot in quality of life.

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  • Happiness: what is it?
  • Wellbeing: what is it?
  • What role do personality factors play?
  • What effect do feelings of happiness have?
  • What role do messenger substances play in the brain?
  • What makes me happy and satisfied?
  • What is a lucky diary?

Happiness: what is it?

Defining happiness is a challenge. Because it can mean something different for everyone. Happiness can be experienced in several ways, such as:

  • as closeness to other people,
  • as creative potential (e.g. creating something creative),
  • as complete relaxation,
  • as a feeling of fusion (e.g. of an erotic nature),
  • as a kind of trance,
  • as a state of timelessness / merging in a moment ("flow"),
  • as meaningfulness or
  • as joy in self-determination.

The ability to feel positive feelings of happiness is, among other things, genetically determined. But environmental conditions (such as prosperity, security) as well as personal development and personal experience shape and shape the "happy career".

Happiness research is a more recent field of research, to which various disciplines (e.g. psychology) are dedicated. Positive psychology, for example, deals with happy feelings and personality strengths. As a human feeling, happiness has not yet been scientifically researched as extensively as negative emotions such as fear and anger.

Wellbeing: what is it?

In psychological research, the concept of subjective well-being also developed in connection with happiness or positive feelings. This is made up of:

  • longer lasting life satisfaction,
  • frequent positive emotions (e.g. joy) and
  • rare negative feelings (e.g. anger).

Thoughts and feelings about your own life play an essential role.

In science one often speaks of four aspects of well-being:

  • Happiness,
  • Life satisfaction,
  • Meaning / value of life,
  • Absence of fear.

What role do personality factors play?

According to the psychologist Lewis Goldberg, there are the so-called "Big Five" personality traits:

  • Extraversion: going out of yourself, being sociable.
  • Openness: for new experiences, being flexible, use of imagination.
  • Compatibility: show consideration for others, be friendly.
  • Conscientiousness: e.g. persistently pursuing goals.
  • Neuroticism: emotional instability (such as being easily disturbed or nervous).

These personality traits of a person provide a scientific basis for research into happiness. Extroverts are likely to be happier than introverts. Those who go out of their way and maintain social contacts are more likely to benefit from it. However, the opposite pole of introversion (people who prefer to be alone) can also lead to a happy life. That depends on what is perceived as comfortable or suitable for one's own life or the respective situation. However, a certain amount of contact with people is important for the quality of life.

Conscientiousness should have a positive effect on wellbeing. Provided this is done with measure and goal. In this research, openness to new experiences and tolerance have also shown a positive effect on happiness. However, emotional instability makes it harder to feel good and experience moments of happiness. These personality traits can be changed. They can evolve throughout life.

What effect do feelings of happiness have?

In principle, happiness has a positive effect on psychological and physical well-being. Happy people usually feel healthier, feel less pain and release fewer stress hormones in stressful situations.

The expansion or structure theory says that positive feelings - especially joy and happiness - expand the scope for action and thought. Resources are built up that lead to further experiences of happiness or make it easier to cope with stress. Building up happiness and life skills is very helpful for the further path in life. It's not just about pure well-being. Among other things, it is about strengthening self-confidence and learning to cope with the challenges of everyday life as well as possible.

What role do messenger substances play in the brain?

Messenger substances play a key role. The neurotransmitter dopamine seems to motivate people to behave in a way that has positive consequences. Another messenger substance related to good feelings is serotonin. Oxytocin, a hormone that is primarily associated with breastfeeding and bonding, also has an effect on the “happy household”. Just like the body's own endorphins.

There is also a so-called reward system in the human brain. Certain regions of the brain respond to events that are worthwhile. The message of these processes is: “It's worth it - I want to repeat that.” In science, so-called reward neurons are defined that respond specifically to these stimuli. However, these brain regions no longer respond if you no longer want the reward. Motivation and reward are closely linked and form a cycle of motivation, behavior and reward: the motivation-reward cycle. Several brain structures are involved in this process (e.g. the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure and reward center). Even the expectation of a reward can be registered as anticipation. The reward system also plays a role in addiction research.

What makes me happy and satisfied?

After intense feelings of happiness, people return to an initial emotional level. Unfortunately, being happy all the time doesn't work. It also does not make sense in a person's life context and maturation path. Nevertheless, it is possible to increase the feeling of happiness or well-being - for example by changing the way you think or act. However, it is important to also consider the larger context of life. In the end, only everyone can find out for themselves what makes them happy individually. Orientation pillars indicate happiness research and your own experience. Happiness seems more likely to be successful if you adopt a certain relaxed attitude towards it.

General steps to greater wellbeing

There are also general measures that can help increase well-being. For example:

  • Stress management,
  • do something that brings joy
  • to do something that one is good at
  • treat yourself like a good friend
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet, healthy exercise, "care for the psyche", enough sleep),
  • exchange ideas with other people,
  • Build up emotional resistance (resilience).

Activities that may increase the sense of well-being in the short term, but then lead to a worse condition, are not effective (e.g. drinking too much alcohol, eating too much sweets).

What is a lucky diary?

One way to increase happiness is to keep a targeted happiness diary. This is also scientifically substantiated and can include the following important topics:

  • Focus on the positive: events that are or were beautiful and their story. However, other (negative) aspects should not be excluded.
  • Remind yourself of gratitude: What are you grateful for?
  • Get to know your strengths: Find out what good and helpful character traits you have and use them again and again in new ways.

Holding on to these experiences and thoughts can be the starting point for finding new ways and perspectives in life. Let your creativity take over your mind and body! There is also room for a collage or drawing in “your work”.

If you are looking for a little more orientation for your happiness diary: The Technical University of Braunschweig, together with the Institute for Educational Psychology, has created the exercise booklet “Three good things” based on study results. You can record positive moments in a structured manner every day for a week.

If you would like to deal with your feelings more closely (e.g. as part of a self-awareness), psychotherapists or health psychologists will help you. If you feel mentally bad, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

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