crisis information

What is Happiness?

Dana Bear; Director of Strategy and Partnerships

March 20th, 2023

Mental Health Matters

What is Happiness?

International Day of Happiness

Defining happiness is not an easy task. There has been much research on the topic of happiness, and it turns out that happiness is defined in many different ways to many different people. Some ways that happiness can be defined is having positive emotions, high levels of well-being, or strong relationships. As you can see, all of this is rather subjective.

Could the lack of one’s own understanding of what happiness means to them be a barrier to achieving it?

Is happiness a skill that needs to be built? For example, if you build skills to think more positively about situations, practice mindfulness, and work on strengthening resilience, you are more likely to be happier. However, if you experience certain life events that are distressing, you still may not be as happy as someone who doesn’t experience those same events. A sense of happiness is influenced by both internal and external factors.

How do we gain a better understanding of happiness so we can work toward increasing it?

Take an inventory of how specific skills contribute to your happiness. Rate how much you believe each contribute to your own happiness.

  • Self-awareness: The ability to attend to and acknowledge thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control and manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Gratitude: The tendency to be thankful for people, experiences, and things, and to show appreciation for the kindness of others.
  • Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
  • Assertiveness: The ability to be self-assured in advocating for your own needs.
  • Resilience: The capacity to cope with or recover quickly from difficult events.
  • Positive Thinking: The capacity to have attitudes that focus on the bright side of things.
  • Social Skills: The ability to interact and communicate with others in effective and successful ways.
  • Conscientiousness: The tendency to be faithful, loyal, and responsible.
  • Kindness: The virtue of benevolence, compassion, and humanity
  • Wisdom: Knowledge that can be acquired through study or learning from others.

Now, list any additional skills that you believe contribute to your happiness.

Once you have rated each skill, reflect on what you might be able to do to further improve those skills you rate highly, and in turn, increase your happiness. Remember, while you cannot always control the external factors that may affect your happiness, you can strengthen the internal factors.

Finally, if you’re struggling, remember you do not have to go at it alone. Reach out for help when you need it. Our Mental Health Resource Specialist can help navigate the options available for you. You are not alone and #YourStoryMatters.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 988.

24/7 Emotional Crisis Text Line: Text MHA to 741-741

Activity adapted from Berkeley Well-Being Institute

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