Can We Actually Learn How To Be Happy?

What is happiness? By definition it is the state of one who is happy, a condition of fulfillment, in which one's desires are satisfied. Is there a secret recipe for being happy? Many will say probably not. But watching a documentary on this topic I realized that "we should think of happiness as a skill no different from learning the violin or the game of golf.”

We are so used to thinking that happiness is something ephemeral, that only lasts a moment, but what if it was not so? Learning to be happy is a daily exercise.

Sure, being happy is a matter of DNA: 60% of happiness is determined by our genes and the environment. But neuroscientists who are studying methodologies and techniques to train the brain to increase the ability to react to daily events with optimism and positivity say that the remaining 40% depends on the way we deal with things, if we define what is happening as positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant. 

Behavioral scientists and psychologists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). Even if a part of our happiness is out of our control, it is important to remember that happiness isn’t something that just happens to you, as it often comes from within. Everyone wants to be happy, and everyone has the power to make small changes in their behavior, their surroundings and their relationships to set themselves up for a happier life.

Laurie Santos, a psychologist and a professor at Yale, where teaches a class called “Psychology and the Good Life,” said to NBC News: “I think it is fair to say that happiness comes with our behaviors and our mindsets — it doesn't come from our circumstances nearly as much as we think. But a lot of the behaviors and mindsets that improve well-being come from being other oriented — from focusing on social connection and doing good things for yourself and others.”

Being happy means training yourself to get used to processing more positive thoughts than negative, to live and memorize positive emotions more easily and, looking at your life, have the feeling of serenity as a whole. Like all forms of trainings that involve satisfaction and effort, one has to be determined in order to reach their goals. So tell yourself “I want to learn to be happy”, and start acting.

Learning to be happy is a difficult path at first. It is made up of alleys, uphill roads, downhills, there are crossroads that present difficult choices, but these are the ones that will make us reach the goal. So what exactly is the goal? Ourselves, our smile. Learning to be happy is a choice, and we all have to make it. It may sound selfish, but at the same time isn’t it selfish also to follow a path that does not belong to us, that we do not feel ours and that we would like to abandon? Learning to be happy is a duty that each of us should take seriously: we owe it to the child that we were who dreamed of becoming Superwoman or whatever, we owe it to ourselves.

Einstein said that the real madman is the one who always performs the same action expecting a different result. We believe we know what can make us happy and what doesn't, but we often lack the will to pursue our most authentic needs. Happiness is built with practice: the more we practice it the easier it becomes. Trying is believing. 


Written by Miriam Tagini 

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