For some people, an intact relationship is the key to happiness; for others, it's time with the family or success at work. But what makes one person happy doesn't necessarily apply to everyone else at the same time.

In a recent survey among students at the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences, various people in different life situations were asked about their definition of happiness. It is clear that health plays an increasingly important role in our society. 63.6% of the people surveyed stated that health was one of the most important factors contributing to their happiness. In addition to health, family, a good partnership and enjoying life are also among the most important definitions of happiness among those surveyed.

In our article we have graphically represented the four most frequent answers.  (Health, Family, A good partnership, Fun and enjoyment of life.)

 

 

Happiness is a science in itself

In order to get a better overview of the mostly subjective topic of "happiness", primarily the scientific side of happiness was considered. How can happiness be objectified?

 

Faktoren, die das Level des chronischen Glücklichseins beeinflussen. Modifiziert nach Sonja Lyubomirsky‘s „Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change“

Laut einer Studie der amerikanischen Psychologie Professorin Sonja Lyubomirsky, sind 50% unseres Lebensglücks vorherbestimmt, d. h. von Geburt an festgelegt. 10% sind von unseren äußeren Umständen abhängig (z. B. Reichtum, Schönheit und Gesundheit) und die letzten 40% ergeben sich durch unser bewusstes Verhalten wie die Ausübung von einem Hobby oder die Leidenschaft im Job. Hierbei können wir in einen Zustand kommen, in dem wir uns frei entfalten können und Dinge um uns herum vergessen. Dieser Glückszustand wird in der Psychologie als “Flow” bezeichnet

What happens chemically in our brain when we feel happiness?
As soon as we feel happiness, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in our brain. This arises in various ways in our body. For example, the intake of food such as chips or other sweets, music or even reading a good book get our hormones and messenger substances going. However, it becomes problematic if we activate our reward system too often, because this could have a serious consequence. We become addicted - to the feeling of happiness. This hormonal outpouring brings us only short-term happiness. But we experience long-term happiness in other ways.

 

How does long-term happiness come about?
Long-term happiness is connected with a constant process. Those who strive for long-term happiness must work on themselves and their inner attitude. Buddha says one thing: "Happiness is in us, not in things."

Social psychologist Prof. Dr. Abele-Brehm claims: "For long-term satisfaction, it is important to develop visions for your life, to know what you want to achieve, who you want to be." She advises young people in particular, who are still searching for themselves, to listen more closely to themselves, because what makes one person happy does not necessarily make another person equally happy. In our fast-paced society, young people in particular fixate too quickly on the exclusively positive posts on social platforms.

The reality check often fails to materialize. People should focus on what is important to them. Only those who find this out will find the "long-term happiness" within themselves.

Buying a pair of new shoes or a new smartphone can activate our happiness hormones extremely quickly. Materialism is therefore an important factor for happiness, but should not gain the upper hand. Empirical happiness research has revealed that even an average income can be enough for us humans to be happy. Conversely, this means that those who earn or own more are not automatically happier.

So there is "biological happiness," and when the "chemistry in the head" is right, we are happy. However, there is no specific happiness gene. Happiness is a complex construct that mediates happiness via various genes with the interaction of messenger substances. While some people go through life smiling every day, there are others who do so rather melancholy.

 

Scientific formula for happiness
Does science have an exact formula for our happiness?  The answer is as clear as it is simple: Yes, there is. It is: HAVE - LOVE - BE. HAVING is about financial security, LOVING is about social relationships and BEING is about the search for the meaning of life. Just the latter is the biggest question mark for most people. However, this question must be answered individually.

The most important insight is that each individual is the architect of his own happiness and can influence his own happiness to a large extent.
This way you can activate your happiness hormones:

 

Dopamine
has a motivating effect and provides a reward effect.
You can activate dopamine through active exercise, by cooking your favorite meals, by working through tasks that come up, or by taking time for yourself.

Endorphins
has an analgesic effect and can make us "high" with happiness.
Endorphins can be released by passionate dancing, intense laughter, spicy food or jogging, among other things.

Serotonin
can trigger satisfaction, well-being and serenity.
Serotonin can be released by sunlight, meditation, massage, and by eating foods such as nuts, bananas, or dark chocolate that contain the amino acid L-tryptophan.

Oxytocin
increases our well-being and makes us seem more compassionate.
You can release oxytocin by petting animals, by sexual intercourse, but also by cuddling or when you please your friends.

 

 

 

Authors: Alina-Alexandra Brück, Aylin Perez Camacho