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  • Lara Inderst


Happiness... a complex expression or phrase - but what is happiness and what does it do for us?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, happiness is simply the state of being happy. Although plainly put, this tells us nothing. What exactly is behind happiness, what happens in our brains when we feel happy?

Our brain releases four main happiness hormones - serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. These sound complex and confusing, but some synonyms make them easier to understand:

· Serotonin: the “good mood chemical”. To raise your serotonin levels you could to do aerobic exercise, which can be yoga, pilates, running or walking.

· Dopamine: the “reward chemical”. Engage in activities that make you feel relaxed like listening to music or baking.

· Endorphins: the “pain relievers”. Do activities that relieve stress, for example taking a hot bath, creating something new and - most importantly - laughing.

· Oxytocin: the “love hormone”. Hug someone, show affection and spend time with friends.

There are all sorts of chemical reactions in your brain and things you can do to increase the levels of each happiness hormone.

Here’s what I think…

From a young age we are taught that happiness is some enormous, overpowering force. We are encouraged to believe that when our lives are different or changed entirely by it, all our sadness will be washed away just like that. It is something the world grants or provides for us. Until we discover it, we will continue to look for it. As a result, we never stop waiting for it to appear, for this simplified version of life, this moment when everything has healed, all of our growth has been organised, we are no longer frightened to love, and the comfort it brings never goes away.

However, in my opinion, the key to pure happiness is accepting the truth that we will constantly be balancing the bright and happy moments in our lives with less happy moments. I believe that the little things in life are where genuine joy, exists: just hearing your friend's voice in the morning saying that they love your outfit, or buying something you have always wanted as a reward after accomplishing a goal; finding people that care for you, not in a physical sense, but rather by being attentive to you and even the most random aspects of who you are. True happiness is present all the time and flourishing in the things you stopped seeing because you constantly kept looking for more.

I don't think that happiness is something you find, or that it is a place you reach where the night never comes and you are protected from any harm and unaffected by chaos. I believe that chaos will always exist since we are literally made of it and wouldn't even be here if the chaotic crashing of atoms inside this Universe hadn't occurred.

Happiness is finding the things that make us feel valued, special, and at peace in this world, no matter how tiny or insignificant they may seem, and letting them soothe us. I believe that happiness may be reached by learning to welcome the dark and viewing it as the contrast which increases our appreciation of the light. Being happy is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you truly happy until you choose to be.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves”-Aristotle

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