The Psychology Behind Happiness - Naeemah Rahim

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Although it may seem obvious, we tend to think of happiness quite frequently, some more than others. Deceived by the media, many of us believe happiness is handed to some, and stolen from others; however, this is inaccurate. According to Positive Psychology, happiness is a skill one must learn, not a final destination.


Positive Psychology is a relatively new field of social science that studies happiness and well-being. Unlike traditional psychology, which focuses on mental illness and treatments, positive psychology examines how humans can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, and we can learn a lot about happiness simply by studying this new field, the psychology behind happiness.

Often, we try to understand happiness and search for it in our daily lives – but what does it really mean, as it always seems to differ from one person to another?

The value behind happiness can differ for a variety of people. Everyone associates happiness with a different memory. Some people might say happiness is the feeling of pleasure and amusement. In contrast, others propose happiness is the feeling of contentment with life and the enjoyment of everything around them. These two definitions both entail a common theme – the sense of satisfaction. We need to be aware of what we receive the feeling of satisfaction from, as there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to obtain happiness.

According to Positive Psychology, Everyone can attain happiness, but the formula is not the same for everyone. Our intentional behavior makes up 40% of our happiness. Studies have shown that six positive behaviors help others obtain satisfaction by practicing them.

Expressing Gratitude: Feeling thankful and expressing thanks can make a person both healthier and happier. Being grateful helps turn the mental focus to the positive by making us realize what we have instead of what we don’t have. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, deal with hardships, and build strong relationships.

Acts of Kindness: Performing an act of kindness is both beneficial to the recipient and the giver, as it offers a sense of belonging and gratification. People who practice kindness are shown to experience an increase in their happiness and also benefit from more self-acceptance and positive relationships.

Connecting with your community: Being active in your community can have a positive impact on your mental health and emotional well-being and make you happy, as it provides a sense of social connectedness, and fosters invaluable relationships.

Playing: Adding more play and laughter in your life can make you happier. Studies have shown that play has many additional benefits, reducing stress, struggle, and worry, making you feel energized.

Getting in the Flow: Flow is the experience of being so absorbed in a challenging and enjoyable activity that you lose track of time and self-awareness. People who practice flow daily experience more happiness, motivation, and life satisfaction than others, as well as less stress and anxiety.

Trying Something New: People who regularly seek new experiences are happier and more fulfilled than those who don’t. Experiencing new things helps us focus on the present, which enhances everyday life.

Although these practices have been shown to bolster positivity, it is important to cultivate a positive mindset in whatever you do to overcome hardships and manifest meaning from monotony.

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