Happiness is an intrinsic feeling of wellbeing and joy. The word ‘happiness’ comes from the Latin word ‘happiness,’ which means ‘to be happy.’ Generally thought to be a direct result of innate human emotions, happiness has been subject to speculation for centuries. Aristotle believed that happiness is a result of a harmonious life. Plato had a different take on this concept, believing that happiness is a result of living a morally righteous life. Essentially, how we perceive happiness is dependent on our mindset.
The way we perceive happiness depends on our mindset. In ancient Rome, Catullus was a famous poet who penned many poems about the female genitalia. Apparently, his libido was at peak happiness during this time and he attributed this to his happiness. However, his sexually inspired poem was actually an oblique reference to the vagina dentata – or ‘toothed vagina’ – in which a woman’s teeth are embedded to pleasure her with pressure. This is an example of how we perceive happiness is dependent on our mindset.
Avoiding negative thinking habits prevents unhappiness. When we feel sad or depressed, it’s usually because we’re stuck in negative thinking habits. We tend to think negatively when faced with difficult situations, such as rejection or difficulty with a friend. Focusing on the negative causes mental anguish, which impedes our mental well-being and dampens our spirits. To stay happy, it’s important to avoid negative thinking habits and focus on the things that make us happy.
We also think negatively when doing harm to others. We can become engrossed in harmful thought patterns when involved in criminal activity or other illegal activities. For example, when soldiers fight wars, they often lose their minds from the atrocities they commit against men, women and children. During terrorist attacks, innocent people suffer grievous bodily and mental harm from the violence they perpetrate against them. By avoiding harming others, we stay happier and safer individuals.
It’s also important to do good when you can so you feel good about yourself. Doing good allows us to feel virtuous; it also makes us feel connected to others and engenders feelings of empathy and altruism toward others. Altruism is an act of selflessness where someone chooses to benefit the well-being of another regardless of whether he knows him or not. When choosing what to do, choose what will benefit others and you will be happy in your mind as well as in reality.
To be truly happy, one must understand how to feel happiness in both mind and spirit. While feeling sadness about past failures can dampen one’s mood for short periods of time, focusing on being happy prevents unhappiness by avoiding negative thinking habits. Furthermore, doing your best to make the world a better place protects you from bitterness as you see the effects of your actions on others’ feelings of security and well-being.