Being happy all the time is a fool’s paradise idea. Let’s clear this up with Sigmund Freud’s golden words on happiness:
Strive after happiness; they want to become happy and to remain so. This endeavor has two sides, a positive and a negative aim. It aims, on the one hand, at an absence of pain and displeasure, and, on the other, at the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure.
What Freud points out is the dichotomy of every experience and emotion you have. We live in a mirror world where everything has an contrasting aspect of it. You can’t know what is feeling cold if you haven’t felt hot? Or let this quote by J.S. Foer do the work for me.
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.
It’s simple and yet, we against all reason tend to chase after happiness. But, is it about the chase or being content.
Let’s break it up into some scientific jargon, so, we get a bird eye’s view on this one.
Hedonia and Eudaimonia are the two aspects of Happiness.
Hedonia is pleasure and momentary well-being. Simply, put all those little happy moments right from the kiss on her lips to the amazing roller-coaster ride you had all come together to form the essence of hedonia. Hedonia is easy to get, watch a funny video for example. Whatever
Eudaimonia is living a meaningful life and flourishing in it. Mahatma Gandhi captures the essence of this word properly in his quote:
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Its hard to achieve that balance and we all keep pursuing that balance. We tend to forget while chasing butterflies, you forget the kisses of nature. We are so focused on the goal that trying to achieve it brings stress to us, even though that end goal is happiness (the opposite of it).
Now, that we have broken happiness, oops!, into two aspects. What can be a good plan to get everlasting happiness?
We perceive and feel every emotion through our brain. Let’s see how brain feels happiness. That will give us a better plan for getting EVERLASTING happiness.
Let’s talk about brain.
You know when you feel any positive or negative emotion, the part of your brain called amygdala goes:
So, now, you have somebody to blame when you are feeling down.
We all have our wants and likes. We all have expectations to get some reward for the work we do. These wants, likes and expectations are the three things which are a precursor to sadness or as Sylvia Plath would say:
If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed.
Brain has a special part called ventral striatum for these little bombs that scar the landscape of our happiness.
Since, happiness is an eternal goal. We can’t really end the discussion without knowing the usual suspect behind this crime who keeps making goals for us. Your goal directed behaviour is controlled by, it’s a mouthful, middle frontal gyrus.
Hedonia, the transient happiness, activates the ventral striatum. In short, reward.
Eudaimonia, the consistent happiness, activates the middle frontal gyrus, ventral striatum. In short, reward+ goal.
So, science says uh! uh!:
A goal-driven approach to happiness will lead to eudaimonia.
After this long albeit illuminating jargon about happiness, let’s sum it up.
Goals aren’t meant to be lofty, they are meant to small wins that count up to a great, BIG win. I can’t assure you a full 24-hour happiness neither can you yourself.
Everyday, when you wake up set a small goal regarding anything you like and when you come back in the evening, make sure you complete it. Have a clear, small goal that contributes to your pursuit of happiness. Complete it and repeat.
Before closing notes, I should at least let Albert Camus justify the title:
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
The secret sauce to happiness is:
Don’t run after the meaning of happiness, don’t chase it like a kite you lost on a windy day. Let your own happiness find you, like the maple leaf that lands in your hand on an autumn day. Live in the moment, not in the loop of cause and effect, past and future. You see, in this moment, in this moment, there lies happiness.
To happy moments, happy days, happy life!
Abhishek Verma is a researcher in the field of deep learning and artificial intelligence. He likes to write about the logical way of self-improvement. Spurred by emotions, he also likes to write poetry. Stay in touch by joining his newsletter. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Mix.