Happiness is relative. For one, these are material gains, trips, shopping… For another, family, children, dinners spent with friends. In our modern society, the life that is shown to us on social networks rarely has anything to do with reality, but in one way or another it is associated with happiness. We all know this is not the case, but we unconsciously compare ourselves to what we see. And that brings us unhappiness.
The creators of one of the largest photo-sharing platforms, for example, were forced to even change its concept, due to hundreds of thousands of accusations that it imposes unrealistic ideas of how women should look. Can only appearance bring us satisfaction? Is this the most important condition for happiness?
We asked psychologists what they thought, and here's what they shared:
When happiness is rooted in neurotransmitters
The first way we experience happiness is by activating the neurotransmitters that are associated with happiness – namely – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin.
Dopamine, known as the "happy hormone", is associated with pleasure. It can be activated in many ways – through exercise, a balanced diet, quality sleep, listening to music, meditation and moderate sun exposure. The same he althy habits can also help to activate serotonin, and its optimal levels will help balance our emotions.
Oxytocin is the hormone that is associated with love, connectedness and a deep connection with another person. It is triggered by touch (when we hug someone), but even spending time with other people can make us feel happiness through it.
Endorphin is responsible for reducing the sensation of pain. You can trigger it by engaging in 'doing good' - for example, when you exercise or show kindness to someone, even when you're eating dark chocolate.
The outward expression of happiness
To experience this much-sought-after feeling, we must first satisfy the most basic needs of our body - to have food, clothing, shelter, security. Then we must also regularly satisfy the needs of our soul - listen to music, read a book, enjoy art, love.
Keep a gratitude journal
A recent study proved that keeping a journal in which you write down at least 3 things you are grateful for every day can have a serious impact on your mood and your sense of happiness. Two groups were involved in the study - after 3 weeks, participants who were in the journaling group showed a significant reduction in symptoms of physical discomfort - be it headaches or runny noses.
Connect with nature
Climbing a small mountain peak or looking at a night sky full of stars - these simple activities can help us experience happiness, say psychologists. Any action that will make us literally gasp will encourage the release of hormones that will help us deal with gloomy thoughts and depression.
Visit a cultural event
A study in Norway involving over 50,000 people found that attending cultural events - events at museums, concerts, theaters - can significantly reduce anxious thoughts and depression levels. Additionally, participants report feeling more satisfied with their quality of life.
Spend money on others, not yourself
Often times, when we have a bad day, we tend to treat ourselves - to buy our favorite pastry or to finally order that blouse that we have been eyeing for a month in the online store.Do not hurry! A 2008 study proves that spending money on others can bring a sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Have more sex
An important condition to experience happiness, however, is that sex should not be done out of obligation. Enjoy cuddling with your loved one when you both really feel like it. Let sex not be an end in itself, but another way in which you can communicate qualitatively and get to know your partner and yourself.
According to a recent study, older people experience happiness more often than young people. One of the reasons for this may be the availability of more experience - it is precisely this that helps to deal with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, etc. more easily and quickly.