Enough has already been said about the advantages of exercises, a morning walk, diet, avoiding junk food and so on. But we seldom care about our mental health. When was the last we actually did something to make our mind happy? And no, I am not talking about watching the latest episode of Sherlock. Psychological well-being is far more important than we care to accept. The way we care for our body, tone our muscles, manage our diet and stay away from unhealthy habits similarly, our mind needs to be nurtured as well. Earlier, mental health was described as absence of illness or disease. However, today psychologists agree that psychological well- being refers to having positive thoughts. There has been enough evidence to link psychological well-being to physical health. Thus, only exercising regularly won’t mean you have a healthy mind. Exercises of mind are equally essential as well. Self-esteem, quality of your relations, financial conditions, the capability of managing your emotions, the state of containment and overcoming difficulties affects the mental faculties. Psychological well-being also refers to lack of stress, anxiety, depression and negative thoughts.
Not being sad does not equals to being happy; this is the equation many fail to understand. However, it does not imply that a perfectly mentally sound person won’t face any troubles. Disappointments, loss, changes, failures are a part of life. Anxieties, depressions, stress, sadness are its consequences. Emotionally balanced people are able to overcome their troubles more quickly and choose to never let these things get them down. This ability known as resilience acts as a key component in devising coping strategies, keeping optimistic view of things and making best of every worse situation. Inculcating creative hobbies and having a strong support system assists in keeping equilibrium between situations and emotional states.
Psychology has identified determinants that are put into three categories which are the very root causes of happiness.
What isn’t very important?-
- Money: Though the saying goes as ‘money buys happiness’ it is not the case. Money only provides a means for purchasing materialistic goods that in turn makes people happy. However, studies have suggested that once people move above poverty line the association between income and happiness becomes minimal. People with six-figure salary are only marginally a bit more happier than middle class people. Intriguingly, those who lay abundance importance on earning wealth tend to be less happy than others who are satisfied with their income.
- Age: This factor is perhaps the most unrelated one to happiness. In accordance with age, happiness tends to remain constant throughout lifespan.
- Gender: Though the notion suggests that women are likely to be unhappy given their secondary position in the society, it is not the case. Surprisingly, gender contributes for less than 1 percent people when it comes to happiness.
- Parenthood: Upbringing of children is a wonderful learning experience in itself. However, it is also blemished with constant worrying and children related stress. In the end, the positive and negative aspects of having children cancel each other out. Hence, people with children are equally happy as compared to those who voluntarily have decided not to procreate.
- Physical attractiveness: Stud guys and beautiful girls have always enjoyed more attention as compared to other unattractive people. But, studies stress that physical attractiveness and happiness are negligibly correlated. It is rather more related to positive self-esteem.
What is somewhat important?-
- Health: Many regard health as a perquisite to happiness. And very correctly health is basically wealth accumulated throughout your life. However, it has also been pointed out that people adapt to illness and diseases. People with serious disabilities are not as unhappy as we might guess. One of the logical reason maybe, that many times we take good health for granted. And hence, health plays an important factor in contributing to happiness.
- Social activity: Friends, co-workers and family are most significant factors that lead to happiness. People satisfied with their relations display a better mental health than those leading lonely life.
- Religion: Religion and happiness exhibit a relatively moderate correlation. Religion often gives a sense of purpose and meaning to life, acts as a safety net when faced with setback, connects people with like-minded other individuals and eases them by putting their fate into hands of god.
What is very important?-
- Love and marriage: Love and romantic relations comes with many stressors. And yet, it is regarded as a key determinant for happiness. Marital satisfaction leads to happiness and in turn happiness leads to marital satisfaction. So, choose your life partner wisely!
- Work: Though many people cringe, cry and wail about their jobs, work defines your state of happiness. Work is medium of measuring your self-esteem and gives individuals a desired social status. Unemployed people or unsatisfactory working population is negatively correlated with happiness.
- Personality: Past experiences are the best predictors of future happiness. Some people are decidedly happy even in cases of devastating setbacks and failures while some people remain unhappy even while basking in glory of success. Psychologists believe that happiness cannot be gained externally or in external circumstances but can be found in outlook of life. Self-identity and optimism are highly related to happiness.
The above list of ‘roots for happiness’ (as I prefer to call it) can help in deciding where to look for happiness rather than giving revised, mundane and mostly easily said tips on ‘How to be happy?’. In the end, it’s you who knows where your happiness is.
Reference: Psychology Applied to Modern Life by W. Weiten and M. A. Lloyd