Are you really happy? What are the things that make you feel happy? When was the last time you felt like you were at the top of the world?
These questions might sound a little childish, but aren’t these the most important questions that everyone should introspect once in a while. On the International Day of Happiness which is celebrated every year on 20th March, let’s escape from our busy schedules and take a moment to ponder on the most trivial topic of our happiness and well being.
If we delve deeper into the science of happiness, we will find that there isn’t any clear definition to it. It can vary from person to person and also with the change in situations.
But when you look at the broader aspect, you’ll find that the science to happiness lies in our ability to establish a healthy connection with others, to have a meaningful relationship and in achieving what we want.
What is positive psychology?
In your life, you might have come across people who are always ready with an alibi to justify why they were not able to get what they wanted and then there are those who never complain about their hardships and evolve as successful and happy people.
According to you, what makes people with same capabilities happy and successful on one side and unhappy and unsuccessful on the other?
The answer to this question lies in the realm of positive psychology. The field of positive psychology operates from the premise that we ought to acknowledge both the light and the dark sides of life.
It focuses on positive elements of life such as character strengths, positive emotion, resilience, purpose, positive relationships, and creative achievement.
Positive psychology is a new field of social science that deals with a broad spectrum of research and application worldwide.
According to one of the founders of the idea of positive psychology, Christopher Peterson, the modern day psychology or the science of happiness is simply the study of things that make life worthwhile.
When compared to the old school psychology, positive psychology or the new age science of happiness allows people to look through a different lens. Traditional psychology was mitigative and helped people get less of what they didn’t require.
Traditional psychology also aided people to focus their energy to fix things that were wrong in their lives.
Positive psychology, on the other hand, helps people to get more of what they desire. It also helps people to constructively carve their lives thus allowing them to live a healthier, happier and satisfied life.
Are the other forms of psychology inaccurate?
Well after reading this, this question is surely going to hit naturally to everyone.
To this question, psychologists answer that the claim is not about considering positive psychology the right way and all other ways wrong. The claim, rather, is that positive psychology emphasizes some important perspectives that have long been under-emphasized and neglected in psychology.
Positive psychology simply takes into account the things that are right with people and aids in expanding these right things to several folds.
The evolution of the science of happiness
The phrase “the science of happiness” came into existence with the evolution of psychology. Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi are the key co-founders of this concept.
The concept of the science of happiness has evolved not only from the discipline of psychology, but it has its roots in many disciplines that comprise of emotion research, moral psychology, humanism, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the humanities, especially philosophy.
Martin Seligman in his early days as a psychologist came across the theory of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness, when defined scientifically, outlines the people who think that their actions won’t matter in their happiness.
With the idea of learned helplessness in perspective, Martin was forced to explore the field of learned optimism.
According to Seligman, if people can learn to be helpless and negative towards life, they can surely be able to learn to be sanguine and optimistic about their lives. This concept of learned optimism outlined the vital role of our cognitive processes in our contentment and well being.
Officially, the concept of positive psychology came into existence around 20 years ago in the year 1998 when Martin Seligman as the President of American Psychological Association made it his mission to draw the attention of psychology towards the positive elements that will help people in the cultivation of happier lives.
Ways to be happy
Having learned the role of positive psychology let us turn our attention towards some interesting and practical ways that can be actually incorporated in our lives to stay happy.
Let’s begin with the simplest way to boost your happiness meter, and that is staying in good weather for just twenty minutes every day. You might be surprised after reading this, but simply staying in good weather can be a serious booster in your positive mood and can also aid in improving the memory.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex confirmed that “Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.”
Another study from Japan’s Osaka University investigated the influence of weather on happiness and found that subjective happiness is related to temperature. Also, the happiness meter is maximized at 57°F (13.9°C).
Exercising and eating right also play critical roles in raising the happiness quotient. countless studies show that physically active people have a much lower risk of anxiety and depression.
Exercising daily releases proteins and endorphins that can make you feel better. While eating foods like poultry, fish, milk, and bananas secrete dopamine.
Dopamine which is also known as 'feel good hormone' is a neurotransmitter that helps in the regulation of the brain's reward and pleasure centers. It also contributes to the enhancement of movements and emotional responses.
Another factor that helps us in staying happy is some good night sleep. Getting a relaxed and peaceful sleep of 6-8 hours every day can really work wonders in calming your mind and making sure that you feel calm and composed all day long.
So, on this Happiness Day, let’s take a vow to follow the principles of positive psychology and keep ourselves in high spirits. As success is not the key to happiness, but happiness is definitely the key to success.