International Day of Happiness!

A whole day to celebrate happiness! Yay. Let’s do it!

Happiness is a choice. But what does it really mean to be happy? Psychologists say that a happy person experiences frequent positive emotions such as joy, interest and pride and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger. It also relates to life satisfaction and appreciation and recognition of moments of pleasure.

So we’re not saying a happy person never experiences negative emotions but they experience them less frequently or they process them differently. If you think about the happiest person you know, how do they deal with minor events that cause frustration and angst in other, less happy people? They probably keep a greater sense of perspective, allow themselves to feel the negative emotions and then move on. Happy people don’t suppress their emotions when they feel sad or upset, but they don’t dwell on them either. Happy people also deal with disappointment differently by understanding their role and what they can do to change things for the next time. They accept responsibility for their own actions, but without overly self-critiquing. For instance, if a happy person doesn’t get a job after an interview, they accept an appropriate and proportional amount of responsibility (e.g. ‘I didn’t answer the second question very well and next time I will do a better job by preparing more thoroughly’, or ‘I did the best I could at the interview. If they offer the job to someone else it is because they are better suited than me’) and they may feel disappointed and sad about not getting the job. But they do not either place the blame elsewhere (‘They wanted their best friend for the job’ or ‘The interviewer just didn’t like me’) nor take one event to mean more than it does (‘I will never get a job, I am useless.’)

The ancient Greeks defined happiness as

‘the joy that we feel when we’re striving after our potential’

which implies several components;

  • the positive emotion of joy

  • the act of striving, which itself also implies an element to do with

  • satisfaction.