Did you know you can manipulate around 40% of your happiness levels? Can you imagine how helpful it can be? The activities you do out of will; decide a significant chunk of how happy you are.
Yes, research has hinted that your happiness level is a cumulative effect of genetic factors, circumstances you live in, and the aspects under voluntary control.
Would it not be exciting to have a checklist on being happier and knowing what does pursuit of happiness means?
Well, happiness is something we all crave knowingly or unknowingly. In this blog post, I will discuss the true meaning of the word “happiness.” I will split it down for you, what research has to say about what makes people truly happy, and why is the pursuit of happiness important.
With the help of this guide, you will know how you can apply this knowledge to make your life happier, richer, and more meaningful.
Before discussing what does pursuit of happiness means and which factors influence it, let’s first know what satisfaction is!
What Is Happiness?
Well, does the question sound weird? Trying to define something we look forward to all the time!
Point out a moment today or yesterday where you didn’t want to be happy. The answer probably is a No. And that’s pretty natural. We all want to be happy. And probably knowing what does pursuit of happiness means at every step of the journey will turn us happier.
And yet, there is no such exclusive framework or boundaries to define it.
A generalistic view is we can define happiness as the condition or mood of experiencing pleasure or contentment, which implies it can often be a fleeting state.
Some researchers describe happiness as a goal in itself, while others point out happiness as a by-product of achieving other objectives in life.
As per research in positive psychology, happiness is often referred to as a subjective state, and as such is also known as subjective well-being (SWB).
Two Broad Categories Of Happiness
To know in-depth about what does pursuit of happiness mean, you first need to know its broad divisions. Both originated in the 4th century B.C., and studies credit the categories to Aristippus and Aristotle, respectively.
- Hedonic: Happiness which refers to having more positive and less negative emotions is hedonic happiness.
- Eudaimonic: Eudaimonic happiness is the state one experiences on the virtuous journey to finding the meaning and purpose of life and reaching one’s unlimited potential.
Why is the pursuit of happiness important?
Before knowing what does pursuit of happiness means, understand why it is relevant?
Does it sound to you a tricky question?
Well, it’s not and it’s a yes too. Being happy is one of the basic needs of life.
If you’re the one looking for help to be happy, you probably belong to the deprived list, and that’s perfectly ok. Instead, it’s a promising sign that you are trying to take charge of your life and tear-free of the limitations stopping you from enjoying life.
If you contemplate a little what does pursuit of happiness means, you would very well be aware that whatever the least of things you do in your routine life, you have a common goal in life: to be happy. All of us want to be satisfied and have a fulfilled life.
So, the question of why is the pursuit of happiness important drops off. Because that’s somewhat, we all are pursuing in our way.
What does the pursuit of happiness mean to you?
Are you someone who has a long checklist, which needs to be ticked done; before you can own the badge of happiness?
Or are you someone who is trying to lead a virtuous, fulfilled life, and that means happiness to you?
If you are not sure what does pursuit of happiness means to you, you need to know which components in your life define happiness.
What does pursuit of happiness mean and the formula to achieve it?
Some 25 years back, researchers noticed the potential of studying the normal and positive aspects of human personalities rather than only focusing on the negative ones.
Before that, psychology dealt with only the negative sides of individuals or the study of affected individuals and battling mental disorders.
It neglected the other half – how normal people can add to their happiness quotient. It neglected what does pursuit of happiness means. To be precise, if someone is at zero levels, how can he be happier and reach a higher value, say 4 or 5.
This promising branch of study came to be known as Positive Psychology, and Dr. Martin Seligman is known as one of the founders.
The happiness equation they proposed is:
H(Happiness)= S(Set Happiness Level) + C(Circumstances) + V(voluntary factors)
After years of study, they concluded that:
- Set Happiness Level contributes to 50%.
- The Circumstances we live in help 10%.
- The Deliberate choices we make in our daily lives add to 40%.
S – (Set Range Of Happiness)
Studies have shown that genetics influences approximately half of your happiness score. In other words, 50% of your cheerfulness is inherited from your parents. This implies all of us have a hidden steersman who stirs us towards a set level of this emotion.
There is a hidden thermostat for happiness in all of us, which already has a personal fixed score. You will revert to the original score after a certain point in time, even when you are in the midst of a favorable period.
This thermostat will drag your score down to the typical level or nearby, even when you have favorable outcomes, and life is moving the way you want it. However, the good side is that the thermostat will eventually pull you out of your misery to adjust its equation even after misfortune strikes.
C – (Circumstances or Conditions)
Seligman discovered that the circumstances you live in influence your cheerfulness score to a minor extent. For instance, your residence country, health, financial condition, education, and geographic factors add to the C value of the equation.
To raise the C value, you can do the following:
- Choose a wealthy democratic country to live in.
- Have a rich social circle.
- Turn to religion.
Even if you could play with all the conditions and alter them, it would still account for 8-15 percent of the total value.
V – (Voluntary Factors)
Do voluntary choices make a difference to the happiness equation?
The answer is a big “Yes.”
You cannot do much to change your country of residence, or other conditions, or your genetic set barrier. But you definitely can take many intentional steps to increase your happiness levels.
Here’s is the good news for you. Intentional actions account for 40% of the happiness levels, and as such, with little effort, you can slowly build up the V- value.
And the brighter side to it is there are many internal circumstances that you have within your control which can increase your cheerfulness lastingly. One of them is by adding more positive emotions to your lives – it can be about today, yesterday, or the future.
It’s critical to recognize that these three types of feelings are distinct and not invariably intertwined. While being joyful in all three senses is ideal, it does not always happen.
It is conceivable, for example, to be proud and content with the past. But be sour in the present and pessimistic about the future.
Similarly, one might have many delights in the present while being bitter about the past and cynical about the future.
We may change our emotions in a favorable direction by changing how we feel about our history, how we think about the future, and how we experience the present by learning about each of the three types of happiness.
In another study by Arthur C Brooks, it was found that half of happiness is genetically determined, another 40% comes from events in our recent past, and the remaining 12% is under the voluntary influence.
He concluded that:
- The genetic state contributes to 48-50%.
- Recent past events add to 40%.
- The voluntary choices add to the rest 10-12%.
How optimism affects happiness?
Having a confident outlook on life is essential for happiness. Because optimism expresses hope and faith. It helps individuals believe that the world is good, as there is a strong link between optimism and happiness.
Optimistic people are more likely to be happy and successful in life. When a person develops a positive mindset, their physical and mental health tends to improve.
All it takes is a positive attitude to change our lives for the better.
Only by not allowing pessimism to take over your mental space, you can achieve happiness. As optimistic individuals can handle stress better, have better relationships, and are self-confident, they tend to be happier.
Recommended read on how to handle stress.
What if you had a clue about increasing your optimism rank. This is what Dr. Seligman found out through his studies and named the concept “Learned Optimism.” The idea argues that you can cultivate a positive and joyful attitude by acknowledging and altering your negative thoughts.
You can know more about the concept here.
How long is the pursuit of happiness?
If you want to find out how long is the pursuit of happiness in your life, you need to know what level and form of this emotion are you looking for as the answer to it is very subjective.
Any uplifts, such as chocolate, a comedy film, a gift, a compliment, flowers, or a new house, can readily improve momentary happiness.
The challenge is to increase your enduring happiness level.
This will not be accomplished by simply increasing the number of bursts of temporary good feelings.
Because people tend to become accustomed to the pleasures that they sought once desperately. This state is known as the concept of the hedonistic treadmill.
Therefore to find out how long is the pursuit of happiness it’s critical to distinguish between fleeting happiness and enduring happiness level.
How to find happiness at work?
Overall, happiness is a highly subjective perception. As per research (Fowler & Christakis 2008), individuals are more likely to feel joyful when surrounded by other smiling faces.
Some factors that will help you find happiness at work:
- Having a clean and creative workstation.
- Healthier relationships with colleagues.
- A daily meditation session in the morning hours.
- A regular workout routine.
- Avoiding multitasking.
- Planning your day pre-hand.
- Gratitude journaling.
To know more about how gratitude can help you to be happier, refer to this read on why is gratitude important for happiness.
What does pursuit of happiness mean in spirituality?
Can spirituality help us in the pursuit of happiness?
Positive psychology does not explain how spirituality can help us experience more positive emotions in the past, present, or future. Still, as a spiritual seeker, I feel that spirituality can help us experience more positive emotions in all three temporal dimensions.
Satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment, pride, and serenity regarding your past are examples of pleasant emotions.
It refers to how well you have reconciled your past events and experiences. And how easily you have blended your past with your present.
Looking back, you would know not all of us have smooth sailing.
Many moments might have left a sour taste in your mind. They frequently cause you to feel upset.
Bitter memories and a sense of guilt are the two most fundamental reasons that prevent us from feeling content with our history. You might not be able to remove those memories entirely. However, how you think about them can be altered.
In a meditative state, you can be aware of the painful memories in a detached way and surrender them entirely to God. You get happier and closer to the divine when you rely on the divine in the three temporal elements of happiness.
Staying connected to the divine becomes the focal point of your life. That way, happiness would be a goal and a way of life too.
Frequently Asked Questions
How we can enjoy our life?
By taking pleasure in the routine things of your life, you can make your life more beautiful and fulfilling.
Practicing mindfulness, observing nature, enjoying your cup of tea or coffee, reading your favorite book, cultivating gratitude, working on fitness, maintaining and fostering relationships will make your life richer and enjoyable.
Is happiness a state of mind?
Many leading researchers have concluded that happiness is a state of mind, a style of living, and is a choice that you can make.
Happiness is not something that you can touch. If you are happy about your new house, job, or any other achievements, you feel a sense of delight. But if you would notice that, you cannot touch that feeling. That is something you are experiencing in your mind.
Also, even after having the same levels of life, similar achievements, two people can have different levels of satisfaction and joy. That interprets happiness cannot be quantified. The joy or sadness you feel about your accomplishments is something that is in your mind and not somewhere in the physical state.
The good news is that you can manipulate it and increase your well-being score.
What are some select reads on the subject of happiness?
The Authentic Happiness Book by Martin Seligman is one of the extensive and impressive reads on happiness. Being the pioneer of Positive Psychology, he points out the 24 virtues and positive attributes the human psyche has and highlights how to identify them.
Another insightful read is the Dalai lama happiness book known as The Art Of Happiness: A Handbook For Living. In this great read, His Holiness, The Dalai Lama offers practical insights and wisdom on how to combat human problems, know what is pure joy, and achieve ever-lasting contentment and happiness.
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman and Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is among a host of other books that are best-sellers in the field of positive psychology.
Having ambitions and desires is all about being human. There is nothing wrong with it. The problem lies if you get reliant on the goal fulfillment for your happiness. To understand what does pursuit of happiness mean, you need to enjoy the journey to your goal too, not the end goal only.
Prioritize the quality of life and enjoy your path to the goal as much as you want to achieve your end goal. As you make tiny positive changes to your daily life, you will notice the transformation.
What does pursuit of happiness means will become clear to you, when through these little steps, you make the journey more blissful and add to your well-being score.
Remember, there is no shortcut to it; it is a life-long effort. But yes, after a few initial years of application, it will become second nature to you. You will feel the change within.
Feel free to share your experiences of what does pursuit of happiness means to you.
Learning becomes fun when it’s two-way.
Stay Happy, Stay Healthy! 🙂