Running after happiness is like running after someone who will kiss you and then punch you in the face.Alisa
Happiness is such a broad word and I at least feel like it doesn’t actually mean anything. It is just a filler in a conversation: “Are you happy?” I will try to explain why happiness is kinda bs. However to make sure we don’t have to start studying biology and chemistry, I have simplified everything a lot. So please if you want more information, check the links I have left at the end, and research yourself. Let’s get into it:
There is a reason why the world happy is in quotes, in the title. I don’t think we understand what happiness means. And the truth is that my happiness and your happiness are two very different things. For some reasons though, we always try to copy others in the hope of getting the same kind of hit that the other person got. The we get bitter when it doesn’t make us feel good and we feel like we’ve been lied to…
So let’s talk about what is happiness scientifically (very simplified). DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin) are in charge of the feelings of happiness, in very different ways. Endorphins come out to play when you do something that you have to power through like fitness goal. While oxytocin makes you bond with people and serotonin is a regulator. You get dopamine actually when you anticipate something. Why is this important to understand? Well this means there at least 4 different ways to be “happier”. Actually more because there are other chemicals in the brain that work to make you feel “good” but I won’t get into them all.
However this gets us to the next point I have. The happiness chemicals don’t work in the sense that we think that they do. Easy example would be serotonin. The chemical that makes you feel hungry and happy after you eat. (simplified a lot). So then you would think that food makes you happy. And it does, in a way. That is why it is easy to start over eating. Because who doesn’t like food. This means that we will get happy from over eating. And from expecting the food we get dopamine… but when have you ever hear about an actually happy food addict. Someone who is over weight is not happy. They might act happy with food in front of them but a little while after they eat they get sad and guilty and then there is the cycle. Eat be happy stop eating feel bad. What do you think we end up doing? … Yeah … eating some more.
So, if we think about happiness as the surge of chemicals and lack of happiness when chemicals aren’t having a party, this means we must always DO something, in order to be happy. BUT this is again where our brains will work against us. Because what better way than get a DOSE than to sit around all day, scroll the phone, order uber eats and then just do the same thing when you feel the guilt and self loathing raise? This is the reason “happiness” isn’t such a great concept and feeling good for a while doesn’t mean you are happy overall.
I suggest a very easy cure for you all who feel like happiness is always running away from you. Instead of grabbing that burger, phone, having sex(All of which are btw good things in moderation) What I suggest is making a list of things that make you feel good AND proud/fulfilled after you do it. Want to feel good about bonding with people? Help someone. Want to feel the anticipation of something? Try planning a trip or organize a get together with friends. Or try something new that you have never done before. The key is to feel good even after you are done doing it. Not that you have failed yourself. This takes away the huge crashes you might get.
So happiness isn’t only about getting some chemicals to party in your brain. You must also make them party in a good way, instead of making them feel hangover after 10 minutes. Doing good things, smart things will make you feel good for longer, because the memory of those good things will make you feel happy again instead of sad.
Now to the last but maybe the most important point: HAPPY isn’t the same thing as easy. Happy isn’t about getting the biggest hit of DOSE, often. It is about balancing out things. It is about making yourself proud, fulfilled. This is why I strongly suggest to run after fulfillment, about feeling good in a smart way. Running after happiness on its own is like running after someone who kisses you and then punches you right after it… and I don’t think that is a healthy relationship to be in. Even if its just inside our brains. Run after being fulfilled and proud of who you are. That will be more like running after someone who isn’t actually running away from you. They are just playing tag with you and once you catch them, they will kiss you and take you out on a date. (Better than the punch in the face right?)
What are the smart things that make you happy? What makes you fulfilled and proud of yourself after? If you have questions, about this or something else, let me know! I will be happy to try and answer or to even write a blog post on the topic!