Happiness is felt when we receive or experience things that are good.
Variations: enthusiastic, interested, determined, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active, strong, proud, attentive, happy, relaxed, cheerful, at ease, calm.
Benefits: Good for physical and mental health, and interpersonal relationships.
Potential Pitfalls: In high doses it will affect your ability to make decisions. Can contribute to addictions and suppressing other emotions.
Why is it so Hard to be Happy?
Hello KALMers! Are you feeling happy this month? This week? This very moment?
Although happiness is an emotion that is often considered positive, it is also an emotion that is often misunderstood and difficult to “achieve”.
In this blog series about our emotions, we will learn about the basic emotions and their benefits and potential pitfalls. If you haven’t read the introductory article on Emotions, you can find it here. In that article, we discuss why emotions have to be acknowledged and processed as natural psychological responses to our everyday experiences.
KALMers, many of you must enjoy the being happy, right? Happiness is definitely the emotion that everyone wants the most! It is the emotion that motivates us to keep working, creating, and improving our lives. This emotion also helps us form interpersonal connections, and enriches our social lives.
However, it can be discouraging to find that getting lasting happiness, one that is steady and resilient, is very difficult to do.
Chasing Happiness That is Dangerous
Psychologically, happiness is a response toward good situations: when our body and soul feel most safe, peaceful, and under control. While other emotions are meant to fix or trigger actions to change our environment, happiness affirms to us when the situation is good.
That is the way it should be: the situation is good, and so happiness affirms us of that fact.
The problem is, more often we try to turn the order around. When situations are not okay, we try to cover up our problems with things that make us temporarily happy. Instead of working towards fixing what is wrong, we chase after a happiness that is shallow and fades quickly.
Chasing after happiness becomes an unhealthy pursuit, because we become addicted to things that make us happy only on the surface: food, shopping, watching TV/Netflix, drinking alcohol, etc. The emotion of happiness instead leads to bad behaviours; ones that postpone or make worse the effects of our problems.
So what do we do?
Happiness in its Many Forms
KALMers, we are not asking you to stop wanting to be happy. Or to lash out all our anger and sadness so that you can feel safe, peaceful and in control. (You can read more about how to process sadness and anger in these other articles.)
What we must do is learn all the different forms of happiness.
We might feel: enthusiastic, interested, determined, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active, strong, proud, attentive, happy, relaxed, cheerful, at ease, calm. Often we think happiness is just being cheerful. In reality, this is limiting happiness to only one form of the emotion.
If we don’t feel happy in one way: for example, if we don’t feel cheerful… We can still feel grateful for someone who was able to accompany us at that time.
If we are not feeling proud because of a mistake we’ve made at work…We can still feel determined or inspired to learn from our mistakes and improve our skills and capabilities.
According to a study done by Cornell University, those who are able to identify happiness in all the varieties are correlated with having lower levels of inflammation. When your body responds to sickness, it does so through inflammation – that’s how it fights against viruses, bacteria, and fungi; and also toward irritation and illness. Low inflammation is correlated with effective defense against illness, both chronic and otherwise.
Acknowledging the wide variety of our positive emotions is called emodiversity. Emodiversity helps us have a healthier relationship to our pursuit of happiness.
KALMers: when was the last time you felt a type of happiness that is not cheerfulness? What other form of happiness have you felt today?
Practicing Happiness Everyday
KALMers, let’s form a habit of acknowledging the forms of happiness we experience from day-to-day! Here are some ways to train those habits:
- Using a journal: one of the most practical ways of practicing happiness in our day-to-day is keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every day, take 5-10 minutes during your commute, before bed, or even in front of the television to write down 3 things that made you happy during your day. You can do it through KALM app, which has this feature built in!
- Do it with a friend: ask one of your friends to build this habit together – and just whatsapp or message them whenever you are feeling a form of happiness during your day. “I’m feeling really calm right now, it’s great!”
- Leave bad habits behind: if you often use habits like shopping, eating, or binge-watching to chase happiness, then try and decrease this little by little through mindfulness. Before you take part in that activity, identify the uncomfortable situation you are facing that is making you act that way, and try and identify a form of happiness you can still find in that situation.
- Try Counseling: Counseling is not only for people who “have problems”, KALMers! We can always improve our lives with mental wellness and emotional health! Chatting with one of our KALMselors will always help you nurture a healthy relationship with your emotion of happiness.
It might sounds odd, but the more we are able to identify and be grateful of the varios forms of happiness in our lives, the higher our level of happiness will be.
So, KALMers, have a great day of recognizing your happiness!
Writer: Evannia Handoyo