Happiness or pleasure or bliss is ultimate aim of everybody’s life. Some find happiness in luxuries, electronic gadgets, some in art and music, some in adventures etc. etc. But happiness from any activity last very fast. Failure in achieving another pleasure or miseries causes pain. In fact, pleasure and pain appear cyclical. There is always a search for eternal bliss.
Western psychologists have based the happiness index on various needs and activities. Maslow theory of human needs viz. physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self-actualisation, stress on these motivational factors for happiness. Seligman’s acronym PERMA summarizes five factors correlated with happiness i.e. pleasure derived from material things, engagement in activity of interest, relationships, meaningful & purposeful activities and accomplishments & goal achievements. Whole of the western psychology revolves around meeting the needs of self. (Both theories are discussed later here.)
Modern Medical Science has found correlation between happiness and release of a few hormones such as Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and Endorphins. The levels of secretion of these hormones are dependent on the lifestyles adopted and various factors such as positive thoughts, regular exercise, yoga, meditation, gratitude, achievements, challenge of achievable goals etc. (more details are discussed later here.)
Duration of Happiness
Wisdom of Bliss in Hinduism
Ancient rishis (scientists) thousands of years ago deeply probed and experiment the happiness more from angle of permanency & longevity and to find eternal bliss. They observed that everything (person, place, age, moment, ego, love, sorrow etc.) goes, is transient; only our consciousness & supreme consciousness (Jivatma & Parmatma) are permanent. They identified causes of pains and devised a comprehensive path for eternal bliss as under:
Medical Science on Happiness
Medical Science on Happiness
According to modern science, our body and mind are acting and reacting to the external stimuli. These external stimuli are transmitted through communication system of around one trillion neurons. These neurons carry the external messages received by five sense organs (ear, nose, skin, eyes & tongue). The sensory information goes to the central nervous system (Brain & Spinal cord). The central nervous system decides the actions and responses to these messages through motor neurons as well as by ductless glands or endocrine glands. The endocrine glands are connected in brain through hypothalamus. The hypothalamus based on the stimuli regulates the release of various hormones which responds to emotions and stress besides regulating sleep, hunger, thirst etc.
There are empirical evidences that several hormones such as Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and Endorphins, have their role in increasing happiness level. However, the levels of secretion of these hormones are dependent on the lifestyles adopted and various factors as under:
Psychology on Happiness
Abraham Maslow in 1943 presented a popular theory of motivation & psychology, called as hierarchy of needs viz. physiological (food, shelter, water, clothing etc.), safety (personal, emotional, financial, health & well-being), belonging and love (family, friends & society), esteem (recognition, status, importance, attention, and respect from others; self-confidence, independence & freedom), and self-actualization (outside higher goals, in altruism & spirituality, desire to reach infinite) to describe the pattern through which human motivations generally move. The theory has profound impact in the organisational system. But it is a great insight to understand motivational factors of happiness of individuals.
Positive psychology has correlated various factors with happiness. Seligman's acronym PERMA summarizes five factors correlated with well-being:
Patanjali’s eight limbs of Yoga
Rishi Patanjali prescribed eight limbs of the self-discipline of Yoga. Happiness, awareness and peace emerge with practice of each rule under the limbs. The eight limbs are as under:
Hence, one can be happy not by material gains but by leading systematic life, by positive thoughts, actions, relationships and righteous approach and selfless service.