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What does it mean to be "Happy"?

Happiness is the goal that sits at the end of the journey for all of us. Life goals, directions we choose to take, jobs we choose to work (or no jobs, for some of us) all end up leading to one big umbrella goal - to be happy. A lot of people feel happy, and a lot of people have to work on their happiness - ups and downs that come natural with the mental health of all human beings.

But what even is happiness? Being 'happy' is defined as an emotional state specifically characterized by feelings of joy, fulfillment, satisfaction and contentment. There are so many ways to define it, but it really stems from positive feelings and satisfaction in your life. Since it's so broadly defined, psychologists often use the term 'subjective well-being', meaning an individual's particular opinion of their own life in the current moment.

The two key components to happiness are:

  1. Balancing your emotions. Everyone has rough days, feels down, or experiences negative emotions. Overall happiness is linked, normally, with having more good days than bad days. Since you can't avoid the bad days all-together, it's the number of them that affect you that matter.

  2. Satisfaction with your life. This is a direct influence based on your feelings about your job, your relationships, your home, and other things that you personally find important.

How do I know if I am happy?

When we look at the perceptions of what happiness is, and what it means, there's an enormous variety of opinions. Even though happiness varies person to person, there are a handful of recurring 'signs' that psychologists often look for when measuring a patient's happiness. These signs can be seen as:

  • Feeling satisfied, overall, with your life.

  • Feeling that the living conditions you are exposed to are acceptable, and good.

  • Feeling like you are living the life you wanted for yourself when you were young.

  • Feeling more positive than negative, and having more good days than bad.

  • Feeling like you either have, or absolutely will, accomplish your goals in life.

Remember: Just because you're a happy person, doesn't mean you're ONLY happy! Happy people are still going to feel the full range of emotions - anger, sadness, loneliness, boredom. However, the difference between a happy person and an unhappy person, is that the happy person will see the positive, the silver lining, the light at the end of the tunnel in a bad situation. They can rely on their optimism and happy demeanor to overcome the negative encounters in their lives.