What is happiness?
Happiness is one of those traits which is described as both a mental and emotional state. For example, you can mentally be happy at an event or for someone else while your overarching mood is sad. However, being happy is also an emotional state where we feel genuine joy coursing through us. It is often hard to capture happiness and to bottle it. However, the state can lead to higher levels of contentment, which is something that is more sustainable in the longer term. Of course, it is an entirely subjective matter, and what makes one person happy may be very different from how someone else might think about it.
Why does happiness matter?
Being happy is good for us even if, under most thought systems about human beings, we all face levels of unhappiness in life to go with the good times. In short, it is the absence of happiness that would really matter. This is because, if we never felt the emotion at all, we would only be able to be mentally, or intellectually, happy and derive it only from empathy. Of course, this is only to look at the issue from one's own point of view. In many people's philosophies, the idea about happiness is to share it and engender it in others with positivity and kindness not to seek it for oneself. This is a central plank in many of the world's major religions, for example.
How does happiness help your health?
Some studies have linked being happy with being healthier. Happiness is more likely to be reported by people as an emotional state they feel regularly when, for example, their dietary intake is balanced, and they are getting enough sleep and exercise. Of course, being happy is also linked to improved mental health. Although it is perfectly possible for someone with anxiety to feel happy from time to time, for instance, more frequent bouts of happiness are linked with better mental well-being. Indeed, it can help with concentration and productivity, aspects of the human psyche which are associated with good mental health.
Can happiness lead to confidence?
It is true that people who are more contented tend to feel an upturn in their level of self-confidence. However, there is no really good scientific data that says more happiness will have precisely the same result. That said, people who report greater confidence in surveys also tend to state that they feel happier. So the two states do appear to be linked in some way as a result of the positive feelings they bring about.
How can happiness be explained psychologically?
According to Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs, people require routes to fulfilment to feel happy. Moments of love, understanding, social acceptance and achievement can only occur when these basic human needs are met. When they are, we are psychologically happier than when they are not. To some psychologists, this means being autonomous in our decision-making, too.