So, today’s article is my facebook post turned into blog post.
I wanted to write about what happiness is, actual true happiness, not the superficial, temporary kind. Since being happy is a part of a healthy lifestyle, especially for mental health, I thought I’d post the essay here as well.
“The two kinds of happiness
So, a big thought about happiness.
Now the way I’ve seen and experienced it there are two kinds of happiness; One is external, which is temporary. The other is internal, which lasts long time and doesn’t fade.
I’ll expand, see I’m not the kind of individual who’s all emotional or philosophical, if I were, I’d probably be very rich and famous, since that sells a lot. No, what I am is logical, and even though my brain is “plagued” by neurotransmitters that trigger emotions just like it does in any other human, I still prefer to manage those emotions and lean more towards logic and rational thinking, with a hint of science sprinkled on top of course.
What’s my point with all this? Well, it’s simple, I was thinking about happiness. But these thoughts actually happened after something happened, which was that without even knowing, I was happily and cheerfully humming a song, a cheery song from the 90’s. Then it suddenly struck me that I was actually singing the whole song with accurate lyrics and I was feeling truly happy without any reason, it was just random. Now, I’m not rich, nor am I famous, I don’t have a supercar or a house on the beach, but here I am, with whatever I do have, sitting in my room, humming this song and actually feeling happy and cheerful about it, just happy with my thoughts and nothing else was bothering me during that moment of peace.
That little moment and its realization is what provoked this thought of having two kinds of happiness in life.
See, the way I see it, having experienced both kinds of happiness, the external happiness while much more exhilarating, is very, very temporary. The reason for that being that our brain releases a lot of dopamine and some serotonin the first time we get something, a new house, a new car, a new laptop, it’s a reward based neurotransmitter which makes us feel good for getting something we wanted, even if it isn’t something we needed, but the thing about that is over time, the novelty of it, wears off due to our brain now becoming used to that object, and releasing less dopamine as days, weeks, months and years go by than it was initially released. So in turn, we lose excitement and the feeling of being happy along with it and find that thing boring or ‘nothing new’ anymore. This is the same with money, those who have money and have had it for a long time, will not feel any different, I mean they can buy anything they want, but it would be a regular thing, not as exciting as say giving a poor guy a 1000 bucks, you do that and his day will get bad to better to best in a fraction of a second. See, it’s that kind of happiness, the one that comes from any external stimuli is always temporary. If you have a lot of money, you see a Rolex, you buy it, you are happy, you love it, but over time you don’t even notice it, it’s just another object in your ‘inventory’ of other objects with possibly even higher value than that. Brain doesn’t find it exciting anymore. This is why the saying “The more you take, the less you have” is true.
Now, our brain being the hormonal cesspool and a neurotransmitter junkie, will want that excitement of a new thing again, so it’ll prompt you to buy new stuff every time you’re feeling down or just want to feel happy and excited. This is very similar to what adrenaline junkies go through, they need adrenaline and other neurotransmitters to keep things exciting and not normal and/or boring, they crave excitement and each time, it’s gonna get more risky and more daring and death defying. So, coming back, this applies to that external stimuli based happiness, until you go broke that is. This kind of happiness is not healthy for one’s mind in the long run of mental health. It’s a temporary happiness, any external stimuli, especially reward based, is never something that generates ‘true happiness’, it only generates a temporary stimulus response based on the neurotransmitters released as a reward for an external action.
But then what is true happiness? Well, the way I experienced it, it’s when you put all your worries aside, and for a moment, even if it’s just minutes or seconds, you are truly free of any triggering thoughts or emotions, you feel that peace, that feeling where there is no one else but you, your thoughts make you feel like everything is actually much better than you initially thought. That feeling of calmness and harmony in your thoughts, that moment where you have no worries, no world to worry about, no stress, no disturbing thoughts, no stress hormones released, everything just disappeared suddenly and feel kind of insignificant in retrospect, it’s just you thinking something naturally and instinctively without trying to think and it’s a happy one, the kind of feeling that puts a smile on your face and lights up your brain’s “happy centers” without any external stimuli, without any reward in return, because that feeling itself is your reward, that feeling of being content with where you are right now on the inside, when your mind is at peace and not chaotic or running around everywhere with millions of thoughts, that feeling, is what I call internal happiness, which for me, is true happiness and is something one can only experience if one lets go of forced thoughts. My internal happiness comes from me being myself, being secured with myself and where I am, what I have accomplished till now and my newly discovered ‘ability’ to say ‘no’ to certain kinds of individuals and things and invite the people and things that fill my life with joy and laughter rather than sorrow. Just their presence makes me feel at peace and makes me feel lucky to be alive in this world.
For me, internal happiness is something that comes from within without trying and just letting go of things that I can’t control, to sing a song that came out decades ago without even thinking about it and then getting it stuck in my head and laughing about it, to be with those thoughts and feel the stress fade away, to think about the good people that I have come across, to think about those who have done so much for me without even expecting so much as a thank you even when they didn’t know me or owe me and be glad and grateful that I met them and still talk to them when I can, instead of the negative ones who just saw the bad in me, yet still not holding grudges toward them and letting go of those thoughts, to think positively, yet realistically and move forward and upward with my life, to let go of being a control freak that I am sometimes and just let things happen and go the direction they need to go, then see surprising things happen, that, for me, is true internal happiness and I love the way it feels to be truly happy, especially because this kind of happiness is something that no one can give or take away from you, it’s often a choice, not a reward. You choose to be happy and change your perspective of life.
I have a faint idea about how this kind of happiness happens from a scientific perspective, but it’s nothing concrete. I think it has something to do with low amount of stress and danger neurotransmitters like cortisol and cortisone and epinephrine, noreponephrine and more release of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a hormone for making us feel satisfied and unlike dopamine, it’s less aggressive and our brain is less addicted to it, so there are virtually no side effects like dopamine and oxytocin have. While a combination of dopamine and serotonin where dopamine is released in larger amounts than serotonin, can alter our behavior and mood and crave the ‘hormonal cocktail’ more, if serotonin is released in greater amounts, it can actually make us calmer, more relaxed and be satisfied more and as a result be happier without an external reward stimuli.
Anyway, so.. yeah just a thought, needed to get it out ^_^”
Additional note – Remember, life is good, if you choose to make it so. It not always easy, but it’s simple enough for sure.
Well that’s it. I hope you liked the post and Thanks for reading! Comments are welcome 🙂