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Happiness comes from within. For once, try being good to yourselves! You will find it fascinating to understand how our daily lifestyle, health, and happiness link with one another. We make choices every day, some of which are made in relation to our mental and physical health. The science of happiness is all about understanding these small yet significant elements that boost up our happy hormones. Let us start with a ‘What.’
What is Happiness?
People define happiness in their own ways. It’s actually the pursuit of happiness that best defines your kind of happiness. In the words of the famous psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, Happiness in total is “the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.” In actual sense, pleasure, satisfaction, or meaning alone doesn’t give a complete picture of happiness in total.
You need pleasure in life to imbibe the feeling of joy of living in the present while you need to find meaning in life to give a sense of confidence.
Pleasure and satisfaction are actually when basic human needs are well met. So, before understanding how to be happy with yourself, let us consider the driving factors of human behavior that set the meaning and goals of an individual.
Are your needs being met?
The famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, in his findings, popularized the actuality of needs in a hierarchical order.
It starts with the basic human needs such as psychological, love, safety all the way to need for self-actualization.
Before we jump into the details of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, let us get a broader picture of needs, and they can relate to the type of success a person aims for.
1 - Security
Security in life and the environment is always the priority need of humans. Being secure from crime, other social animals, protection, and shelter all comprise the security needs. Security comes in various forms, such as physical, emotional, and financial security.
Physical security is a security that your body needs. Emotional security means being safe from a lot of mood swings. Mood swings only hamper your happy state.
Financial security is equally important and comprises everything from having money for your shelter, food, and other expenses. It is only when a person can achieve contentment in all forms of security; he can feel comfortable.
Anything that threatens your sense of well being makes you fearful, defensive, and angry and compromises your happiness.
2 - Comfort
After the need for security is well met, you start feeling comfortable. If you don’t feel secure, you won’t be comfortable as you would always be preoccupied with threats and dangers from the external environment. Comfort comes at different levels, and it varies from person to person, depending on what fulfills their basic need for comfort.
The levels of comfort are physical, emotional, and financial comfort. Though the definitions of comfort levels remain the same as security, the priority may vary from person to person. For example, a person might feel comfortable saving his money in the bank while another would feel content spending on his physical comfort.
3 - Leisure
Leisure activities provide time for one to be with themselves, relax and explore their
surrounding environment. Bored with daily routine jobs, it comes as a natural human desire to find some time to enjoy alone or in the company of others.
Leisure time can be for physical activities or any activity you love doing. Not having leisure time can get demotivating while a lot of leisure time too can adversely affect your life’s future prospects, such as those relating to health and career.
Occasional leisure breaks such as holidays, sports, and hobbies help recharge yourselves and get fully functional again.
4 - Love
Love binds us, we billions of people on earth by an unparalleled bond. Love is perhaps one of the most fundamental human desires, which makes life bearable.
Love can be with any person-specific; it may be love for others or loving yourself. Yes, love yourself first. If you don’t love yourself, you might engage in self-destructive or self-defeating behavior such as drug abuse or alcohol. And it stops you from finding real happiness. A lack of self-love can happen when you feel inadequate, not liking your own looks and abilities.
Love for others is crucial and to self-development and helps in long-term relations. If someone let you down in the past, don’t stay limited to it. You can’t expect people to act as you want.
Only remember that not every time, everyone would let you down. Look forward to fulfilling your need for love with more positivity.
5 - Respect
The feeling of respect is strongly correlated to the feeling of love. You cannot respect someone you do not love. Respect is recognizing and praising the quality and achievements of people and yourself. It makes you confident in life, starting from a very young age.
Teenagers love and respect their teachers, parents, movie stars, and find their role models in them. Being respected and recognized by people you love adds to the feeling of self-content. It is one need that can motivate you either in the positive and negative direction.
So, respect people if you want to gain the same respect from them.
6 - Purpose
Knowing what you want to achieve in life gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. It is a very natural yet fundamental need of inner self.
Some people realize their purpose at an early phase of their lives, while others find it gradually as a part of adulting. Once understood, it imbibes a feeling of motivation to work towards achieving the same and benefit the state of mind.
Actually, not knowing what to achieve feels like doing the rounds. Maslow believed in a person’s self-actualization as the highest level of need a person needs to achieve.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow was a popular American psychologist who believed a set of certain needs governs human behavior.
The hierarchy of needs by him is a motivational theory consisting of 5 level pyramid of human needs.
The needs near the base of the pyramid must be satisfied before climbing up. Bottom to up the needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Maslow stated that in human life, they are more motivated towards certain needs, and these needs precede others in the hierarchy. The most basic need being our very physical survival, and that is the first thing which, once fulfilled, supports our behavior in an upwards direction.
Physiological needs: These needs are the basic biological needs for human survival like food, air, water, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep, etc. These needs are basic human body needs for optimal functioning. Maslow marks these physiological needs as the most important ones over all the other needs.
Safety needs: Our safety needs include the need for protection and shelter, law and order, security, freedom from fear. Safety also includes behavior such as installing security cameras, wearing seat belts while driving, etc.
Love and belongingness need: Humans are the most social beings and need companionship. These needs include love and affection, feelings of belongingness, and need for interpersonal relationships. Examples include friendship, finding a romantic life partner, affiliation, being part of groups in family, work, and more.
Esteem needs: Once the three base level needs are fulfilled, the next is esteem needs. which can be classified into two categories: (i) esteem for yourself: achievement, dignity, independence) and (ii) the desire for respect and reputation from society (e.g., status, prestige). Here, Maslow explains that positive self-esteem brings in positivity and confidence to achieve in life.
Self-actualization needs:: Maslow indicates this need as emergent since we only act upon it once our basic needs are well fulfilled. Self- actualization refers to realizing self-potential, fulfillment, seeking growth, and peak experiences. These experiences may be moments of immense pleasure and satisfaction we achieve in overcoming each obstacle in our life. It is the inner desire to be a better version of ourselves every new day!
How to achieve happiness?
Happiness is more than just a feeling, it is your physical, mental, and social well being. The world would be a better place with happier people around.
Happiness can set everything right, your work-life balance, your relationships, and life in general. You can be happy following just a few simple steps, which are described below:
Be with the company you love:
Psychology reveals we are joyful with friends within whom we find our happy place. Always be with such a company because they will find a way to keep you happy even when you are down.
Listen to your heart:
You know what, your heart knows things! It knows what and where it can find your happiness! Be smart and stop trying to be what others expect you to be. Instead, follow your inner self desires. Find something that you enjoy doing and be someone you want to be. And even if you fail in doing the thing you love, you would be more than just happy.
Know your worth: Never let others' opinions get the better of you. You know what you are and what you can do. Try setting your barriers high and aim for it. Always remember you should never settle for anything less than what you deserve.
Be honest to yourself:
Always try to be honest rather than making a compromise with yourself. Sort out things you want in your life as well as from your friendships or relationships. If you understand your actual expectations from life, you would happily achieve them in life.
Be open to change:
Change is the only constant in life. Even if you don’t feel comfortable adapting to changes, it will happen gradually. Make plans and be prepared for anything that comes your way. Embrace the change with happiness.
Practicing gratitude for what we already have can make us a lot more happier than always poking our hard luck of not having other things. Everything comes at a value and do consider the fact that many others would only be seeking for what you already have.
Stop getting angry on small things:
Personal grudge or anger will never help but spoil the mood. It causes a sense of displeasure. Let go of things connected to the past that messed up situations. Hate is a heavy load to carry. Let it go and be on good terms with everyone.
Live in the moment:
For once, stop worrying about what the future has in store for you. Even I wander off into things in my head that probably are never going to happen. It will only end you up in an even more frustrating situation. For once, don’t have a plan. Just live and improve the present and see how things work out on their own.
Everyone is a unique creation. Everyone has their qualities and shortcomings. So, never compare yourself with others. Respect your qualities and embrace your flaws. You would love being yourself and be more than content.
Carry a Smile:
Last but not least, always carry a smile on your face. You never know your smile may rejoice so many others out there. It can set things right. And when you are down, probably someone else’s smile would rejuvenate you only to realize there is nothing much to feel low for.
With all the needs understood and happy tips, you would probably understand it is never difficult to be happy. All these small elements add to a complete picture of how to be happy in life.
Start from the thing you love the most. Bask in simple things, silly jokes, treasured memories, moments from your childhood summer days, and be happy. And yes, happiness is a contagious disease! Don’t forget to pass it on.
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