As a child, our happiness appeared to be much simpler. A happy meal, a trip to the park, or a good game of “hide and seek” was all it took. As an adult, however, the concept of being happy is much more complicated. Certain aspects of life can heavily influence how we feel. Psychologists and therapists have determined 5 of the most significant factors that do so. Let’s take a look.
Physical And Mental Health
For us to be happy, our physical and mental well-being needs to be in tip-top shape. As a given, some people can find joy despite being sick. But it’s significantly easier to enjoy life when you’re not strapped to an IV pole or confined to a bed. Additionally, physical activity often releases endorphins – happy hormones. Exercise in the morning can thus boost our mood for the rest of the day.
According to Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC, “We all experience these ups and downs, and most of the time we get through the downs and move on to better times. But for many of us certain situations at can trigger an episode of depression and make us feel a hopelessness that won’t go away.” Similarly, our brain chemicals can get in the way of us experiencing happiness. Conditions such as depression and anxiety make it difficult for us to stay happy, even while doing daily tasks.
Something else that’s noteworthy: the relationship between happiness and good health goes both ways. People who reportedly enjoy life are also likely to have a healthier body and mind.
Standards Of Livings
Do you believe that money can’t buy us happiness? While this is true, our socio-economic status and standard of living can affect our lives significantly. Fulfilling our needs and wants is what makes us happy. With a higher standard of living, we get to enjoy privileges that allow us to meet such requirements. Life, in general, also is easier to deal with if you’re financially stable. It is easy to consider that “A stressful change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Such stressful events may include a serious loss, a difficult relationship, trauma, or financial problems.” Ben Martin, Psy.D. said.
However, take note that at some point, higher income and privileges don’t change much. Even the rich can be dissatisfied, and those who aren’t well off can sometimes be happier than others.
Likewise, the American Psychological Association also found that money affects how we experience happiness. Those in higher social classes find joy in personal achievements. Conversely, those who are less wealthy draw such feelings from social relationships.
If you find that you live in a place not riddled by war, consider yourself lucky. The political climate and stability of a nation can influence our happiness. An unstable government means a lack of safety and security. Survey results show that satisfaction is generally lower in countries experiencing civil war, sudden shifts in governance, and corruption.
Likewise, it isn’t just your country that can affect you. Seeing problems on the news can also dampen one’s mood. As people, we tend to sympathize with others. Seeing our fellowmen suffer from political instability can keep us from being happy.
Additionally, the types of rules under which we live also influence us. Citizens in nations with strict rules may not be as happy as those with more freedom.
Not surprisingly, the company we keep can affect how positive we feel. As social beings, we must maintain relationships with people. Whether these connections are with family, friends, or romantic partners, we all need others in our lives. Because of their importance, they can vastly influence our emotional well-being.
And it isn’t about the number of friends you have. As they say, we should value quality over quantity. Having people around you that you can trust, love, and enjoy time with is what makes for a happy life. Time and distance also aren’t important factors. We can still spend time alone while still maintaining meaningful relationships.
Being disconnected from our peers gives us a feeling of loneliness, which can develop into depression in the long-run. Likewise, being around toxic people that you don’t like can put you in a sour mood, even in the long-run.
Personal Expectations And Perspective
Lastly, it can be up to our way of thinking to help us find happiness. We could be healthy, financially well-off, live in a safe environment, and have many friends but still be unhappy. A positive look at life is imperative to experiencing joy. As Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC explains, “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.”
One way that we hold ourselves back is by holding unrealistic expectations. We have to remember to be gentle with ourselves; to go easy. The quest for joy itself can stress us out to the point that we don’t enjoy the journey anymore.
Another way we impede our happiness is by reacting to things the wrong way. Imagine losing your keys and arriving late for work. We can choose to let this destroy the rest of our day or overcome it to enjoy the rest of our hours. Positive thinking can significantly change how we go through life.
One of the aims of psychology is to determine what makes people happy. Though it may differ for each person, certain factors that stand out. Physical and mental well-being, financial stability, good governance, relationships, and our way of thinking are at the top of the list. Learning how these affect us and how we can manage them can be our ticket to becoming truly positive in our lives.