Can we measure happiness? What are its sources?
Hi. Happiness is a feeling that varies from person to person. For some, it’s a calmer, more general description of their current life direction. For others, it’s an emotion of the moment, and they’re either happy right now or they’re not. As for what reasons a person would or wouldn’t be happy, that’s even more varied.
Still, there are some common sources and experiences associated with happiness. Let’s explore those.
Here are twelve common sources:
#1 Optimism. This is fundamental. Being happy in a neutral moment in a choice we can make, every day. We can also choose to be unhappy by being pessimistic. And what we focus on in our life becomes a bigger part of it.
#2 Ability to meet the basic needs of life
#3 Finding happiness in the little things. Not being needlessly critical
#4 Living a good social life
#5 Being extroverted when it counts
#6 Being purposeful
#7 Having good health
#8 Staying creative and busy. Being idle often leads to overthinking
#9 Not holding grudges. PS: Exceptions obvious, but the key is not to hold anger or be ruled by it.
#10 Knowing perfection is an illusion.
#11 Not comparing yourself to others
#12 Feeling content with what you have.
Happiness has been a major concern in recent years as there has been a sharp increase in the number of people who are suffering from depression, loneliness, or other emotional/social problems. Since 2012, the governments, NGOs, mental health organizations, etc. have regularly started assessing the happiness of people with an index. Individuals are asked to rate their happiness on a scale of 0 to 10. The results are then averaged together. Based on the results, the concerned organizations adopt steps to raise the scores, if they fall short of expectations.
But this is a measure of overall prosperity, not how happy/unhappy individuals are, or what makes them so. You can’t really measure happiness, you can just measure how happy people say they are in a given moment. And since it comes from a wide range of potential factors that matter in different amounts to different people, no, happiness can’t really be correlated to one thing that can be tracked across a population.
Since we are discussing happiness, many people consider money the source of it. You may have noticed that I left that out of the list. In the pursuit of money, many people forget and neglect things that actually bring them happiness in life. They have fallen into a narrative that they need to be rich before they can appreciate anything else in life.
After meeting basic needs, it’s important to realize that money is no guarantee of happiness. I know many examples of rich people, where despite having vast wealth, they are unhappy, more than a poor person who finds it hard to meet his daily expenses. In essence, they learned how to make money, but not how to appreciate it, to live a life where the money is spent on something important to them.
If you are interested in seeing more about this, check out, The Homeless Millionaire: How Making Money Is Only Half the Battle.
In conclusion, happiness usually comes from the sources stated above, but which are higher or lower in value depends on the person. Regardless, one should find contentment in what he/she has. Dissatisfaction often leads to pointless unhappiness. You can be unhappy about something urgent and important, so you fix it as soon as possible, but what is the point of torturing yourself simply over things not being as good as you’d like them to be? If they’re not as good, it’s time to stand up, get out of bed, and make them better. No one else will do it for you.
Please feel free to reply to me if you need clarification.