Everyone wants to be happy, but millions of people struggle to maintain happiness on a daily basis. Common misconceptions regarding the pursuit of happiness often involve obtaining financial wealth or utilizing medications that are intended to boost mood. The text below will discuss how these misconceptions are invalid and how happiness is truly determined.
The Science of Happiness: Key Components
Americans who are struggling to be happy may be surprised to learn that some of the factors that are commonly thought to be linked to happiness actually do not influence overall outlook. One revelation outlined on Science Daily finds a link between a person’s location and their overall happiness. States that are commonly listed as offering residents the highest quality of life are consistently associated with happy residents.
The study that correlated location and happiness obtained information from a million people in the United States. Scientists feel that the sheer size of the study group indicates that the correlation is extremely significant and that there is little chance of coincidence in the findings.
Quality of life ratings for states and cities are based on a variety of information including days of sunshine, commute times and pollution levels. Entertainment and dining options may also be factored into the rankings. The study verified scientists’ assumptions that these quality of life factors directly influenced how happy a person can be living in certain areas.
Another surprising component of happiness is genetics. An article featured on Science Daily detailed a study conducted by psychologists that found that happiness is largely determined by a person’s genetic makeup. The link related personality traits including sociability and a tendency not to worry to the overall happiness of a person. Because personality is heavily influenced by genetics, the study determined that a person’s capacity for happiness is also directly linked to genes.
The Effect of Prescription Medications on Happiness
Many people dealing with depression have turned to prescription medication to deal with the issue. While these medications are often successful at helping a person manage depression, there is no guarantee that anti-depressants will actually make a person happy. Even medication that is doing what it is supposed to do often results in neutral feelings rather than happiness.
A study referenced in Psychology Today found that the overall effectiveness of medication used to treat depression is currently unknown. Even the most generous claims indicated that these medications are only effective in approximately 65 percent of patients, and it is possible that the medication is simply signaling the body to boost mood naturally through a placebo effect.
As mentioned above, the most important aspect of anti-depressant medications to keep in mind is that they are not intended to make a person happy. Eliminating depression and regulating chemical imbalances in the brain through the use of medication does not automatically lead to happiness.
Socializing to Foster Happiness
Links between healthy and positive social relationships and the overall happiness of a person have been prevalent in studies related to mood. Academics in fields that study animal interaction have found that humans rely more on social relationships than any other animal.
U.S. News discusses that human interaction provides the emotional support that people need. Maintaining social relationships that are based on mutual support and understanding is one of the best ways for a person to stay happy.
The source of social interaction can vary according to a individual’s personal interests and beliefs. Some people are particularly close to family members and are able to get the social and emotional support that they need from this group. Others choose to find social comfort through church groups or groups of people with similar hobbies. The key component to using socialization for happiness is maintaining a few strong, close relationships. Studies indicate that having many friendships that are not especially close in nature is not as beneficial as having just a few friendships that are strong.
Choosing to Be Optimistic
An article in The Huffington Post highlights the fact that people are able to choose happiness if they know how to do so. Positive thought is one way for a person to maintain happiness. Choosing to have a positive attitude concerning oneself and taking time to harbor positive emotions about the opportunities an individual has in life is one way a person can become happy in spite of environmental factors and genetics.
Focusing on personal achievements and positive factors in life may help people with a negative outlook on life turn around their overall outlook.
Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Salary and Emotional Outlook
While there is a general belief that people with an abundance of financial wealth are happier than the average person, this assumption is not necessarily true. Forbes finds that polls indicate that those who have enjoyed economic growth do not identify themselves as being happier because of their financial status.
Another fact uncovered during research concerning money and happiness is that those who are paid hourly tend to be happier than people who are paid a regular salary. Science Daily explains that psychologists who conducted a study comparing the happiness of salaried employees and hourly employees believe that hourly employees may feel more satisfied with their work status because hourly wages tie time directly to income. Employees paid hourly may have a better ability to interpret their income as a payment for their time because it is specifically related to the time that they spend at work.
Determining factors that influence a person’s happiness include location and genetics. A person who has a negative outlook on life may turn this outlook around by focusing on the positives in life and forming strong social relationships.