Happiness As A Personality Trait
Happiness can be defined and perceived in various ways.
It is an emotional state characterized by feelings of well-being, joy, or contentment. Psychologists term happiness as subjective well-being. It is a measure of relative life satisfaction.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence.”
Everyone has a different version of true happiness.
Some people may be happy with their friends, while others find true happiness when they pursue their dreams.
Regardless of each person’s version of true happiness, it makes you feel better, live a good life, and gives you a deep sense of contentment.
People who are happy in general feel other emotions too.
- Feeling more positive than negative
- Being satisfied with life
- Accomplishing what you want in life
- Feeling like your life is good
- Being open to learning new things
- Practicing compassion
- Smiling or laughing readily
- Enjoying healthy relationships
- Being happy for other people
Happy Mind - Happy Body
Happy people engage in healthy behavior. Being happy has various health benefits also.
- Helps combat stress: Studies show that cortisol levels - the primary stress hormone - are low when you are happy.
- Some studies report links between happiness and a longer lifespan.
- Being happier may benefit your immune system. A study reported that the least happy people were at a higher risk of contracting colds and infections than very happy people.
- Being happy may also help reduce pain in people with arthritis or stroke.
The Happy Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by different glands in the body. One of the main functions of hormones is to regulate mood. There are certain hormones called happy hormones which promote positive feelings. These happy hormones include:
- Dopamine: Also called the “feel-good hormone” hormone, dopamine is part of the brain’s reward system and is associated with learning, memory, motor system function, and pleasurable sensations.
- Serotonin: Serotonin regulates mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin: Also called the “love hormone,” it is mainly important for childbirth, breastfeeding, and parent-child bonding. It is also involved in promoting trust, empathy, and bonding.
- Endorphins: These hormones are termed the body’s natural pain reliever. They are produced in response to stressful situations. They increase during reward-producing activities, like eating or working out.
Is Happiness Genetic?
A study reported that genetic variation is responsible for 33% of the variance in life satisfaction. There are several genes that affect the production and transportation of happy hormones that are responsible for mood. Changes in these genes can affect your baseline happiness.
The 5-HTTLPR Gene
The 5-HTTLPR gene produces a type of serotonin (happy hormone) transporter. Changes in this gene are also associated with changes in personality traits, including extraversion.
rs25531 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the 5-HTTLPR gene.
Non-Genetic Factors That Influence Happiness
There are several factors apart from genetics that affects happiness.
- Socioeconomic status
- Religious factors
- Job satisfaction
- Education level
- Physical activity
Living A Happier Life
There are various things you can do to make your life happier. Happiness is not consistent. Certain habits may make some people happy, but not others. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
- Physical activity: Regular exercise is good for both your body and mind. Aerobic exercise is found to be the most effective at mood-boosting.
- Sleep: A good night’s sleep is necessary for a happy and healthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep can lead to an increase in negative emotions.
- Meditation: Regular meditation can improve sleep, help reduce stress, and boost happiness.
- Work-life balance: A good work-life balance reduces stress levels and leads to a happy lifestyle.
- Express gratitude: Being grateful for what you have is one of the ways to increase happiness. A study found that people who wrote down three things they are grateful for daily were happier than others.
- Massage: A good massage can increase the levels of happy hormones.
- Diet: A healthy diet has various benefits, including increasing happiness.
- Try new things: Add variety to your life. Apart from work, go outside once in a while for a walk or a game, travel, or anything else that boosts your mood.
- Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of well-being, joy, or contentment. Psychologists term happiness as subjective well-being. It is a measure of relative life satisfaction.
- Happy people tend to be more optimistic than others and face negative situations better.
- Happiness has various health benefits too. It can help combat stress, increase lifespan, improve your immune system, reduce pain, and lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are happy hormones.
- The 5-HTTLPR gene carries instructions for the production of a serotonin receptor. People with certain changes in this gene have higher serotonin levels and are more likely to be happier.
- Other factors like education, income, sleep, physical activity, and health can affect your happiness.
- A good amount of physical activity, sleep, and work-life balance are some of the things that contribute to being happy.