What Makes Us Happy

Arvind Katoch

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Philosophers have long said that happiness is the ultimate goal of existence. For this we desire other goods such as money or power because we believe that they make us happy. Question is, do they really lead to happiness. According to brain scientists, there is specific area in brain that sets expectations for material gain and as material goals achieved. This means you could we unhappy, despite wealthy, if your expectations were high. MRI scan coupled with behavior games has shown that our brain has ‘fairness’ switch.

We will be unhappier, if don’t see our expectations meet. One part of brain recognizes gain and other loss, so these emotions are processed differently. It is separate part of brain which process short term and long term goals. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist says, material gains provide happiness up to certain extent. It stops when you attain some social status. After that comes security, a ability to feel sure that you can defend what is yours. After that comes a desire to love and we loved, to belong to a community or group that is greater than you. Many stop here and lead happy life. Now what is elusive self actualization?

It comes from reorganization that you exercising 100% mental and physical activity, towards a goal that is greater than you needs of own self. Psychotherapist said, you could find an individuals purpose, then you can find his happiness. We are all born with a unique bundle of aptitude. Purpose has two elements - a uniqueness that relates to why an individual is uniquely suited to do something and integration, or the way that uniqueness either harmonizes or helps others or a great group. Research show that most people move from integration (childhood) to uniqueness (adolescence). Consciousness is the ability to examine the mind as if from the outside, as an objective reality.

Purpose also comes tied to soul, the soul manifests connection to a greater entity and the home of those needed for our own personal comfort and well being. Yet another road to happiness was found by the Hungarian psychologist, through what he call ‘flow’. Flow is happiness through action that creates the exhilarating sensation of being alive. Mountaineers experience it when climbing, fisherman after a fighting catch, cricketers during along turn at crease and mothers when tending to a child. His research show that flow comes with clear goals.

Hit a century, climb that mountain, when feedback is immediate. Flow occurs when difficulty and ability are both high and equal. Concentration deepens. Action and awareness merge into seamless wave of energy. There is detachment. In flow present matters. You are in complete control. Sense the time is altered, minutes can feel like hours or seconds. In flow there is loss of ego. As when a climber reaches the top, there is a unity between the mountain and the self, not the sense of competition won. So here is the road to happiness. With this you are on the path of self actualization, opening the doors to lasting happiness.



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