Happiness is an emotional state of no anxiety and fear. A feeling of satisfaction that what I am doing now is what I want to be doing.
Mindfulness is the best tool I have in staying happy no matter what the circumstance is. Life is suffering and it's best to acknowledge that. In that you cannot avoid pain and hurt. Even if you try hard. You will get hurt. You will mess up and you will feel regret. It is logical then to accept these feelings as they are. No matter how bad they may feel in the moment. The key to happiness is detachment. The ability to mindfully observe the feelings and thoughts you have and choose what you think is the right thing to do in the moment. The thoughts you have and feelings you feel are your body's reaction to the environment it is in.
Ignoring the thoughts and feelings you have is not good as it doesn't solve the problem. Only delays it and makes it worse. The thoughts and feelings will still be there. It is instead best to mindfully observe what it is you feel. Ask yourself why you feel this way? If you detach yourself from this situation and look at it from a different perspective, you will often find the reason why you feel this way. Is there anything you can do to avoid feeling like this in the future? Sometimes the sad answer is that, no you can't. The feeling may always be there due to disease or trauma. What you do have the power to change, no matter what situation life throws you in, is mindset. A change of perspective is all you need to be happy. It is your choice to be happy. Happiness is not a reaction to the environment you are in. It is a state of mind. The awareness that the negative thoughts you think about have no power over you. Because you can choose to ignore them as they bring no value to your life. The pain you feel has no power over you because it is temporary. It will go away. And you have the choice to avoid it. Controlling emotions and feelings will never work because these feelings are natural. Mindfulness and awareness is the only thing you have complete control over.
Aside from mindfulness and awareness, you can increase your chances of feeling happy by focusing on these three things:
These 3 things I found to most greatly improve anything else that I want to do in life. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
Another point not mentioned there is purpose. A lack of direction in life and the constant questioning of whether what you are doing is the 'right' thing only causes more and more anxiety with time. I find stoic philosophy solves this problem for me. There is no purpose to life. There is nothing in life you ought to be doing. Nothing in life you have to prove to anyone. You make your own purpose and meaning in life. I find this philosophy incredibly liberating as there is no right or wrong answer to the question of what it is you should be doing in life. If you are unhappy with what you are doing, try to change it. Don't attach yourself to anything as nothing is permanent. Value the things you have in life now. Only you can give meaning to anything. Choose wisely what matters to you and focus on that.
My personal happiness
For me personally, I try to be very methodical with what makes me happy and what I value the most in life. I wrote down some rules that I try my best to follow. Each of these rules came from my own experiences and failures in life. Learning from mistakes. Learning. And never looking back. I wrote these rules because I often have to remind myself of these simple things in life. Don't compare myself to other people. Be mindful. Be honest. And above all, focus. Focus on things that matter to me. Disregard the rest.
Writing it all down is helpful. But what matters is going through and being mindful enough to follow through with these rules I wrote down for myself. Being mindful of my body and thoughts and not attaching myself to needless things.
One other thing I found helped me the most in life. Is expressing myself. Expressing my thoughts, feelings and frustrations. Be it through music, writing, drawing or code. I never want to hold back what I feel. I embrace it. I also find great joy in self improvement and honing my workflow. It is an endless pursuit with no end goal in sight and that brings me happiness. Because no matter what happens in life. I can strive to improve myself. Be a better person than I was before.
I love to live minimally and only use what I need. Think about things that matter to me. Cutting out the noise and focusing on what's important to me. I love cutting out any kind of distractions from my life. I love not keeping everything in my head and letting software and tools do the things they are good at. Storing and retrieving information. Events, todos, tasks and projects.
I practice this art of minimizing and focusing on what's important to me & removing everything that is not every single day.
Other things that help
- Maintaining a social support network (and having a dog).
- An hour of light to moderate cardio every day.
- Focusing on hobbies.
- Focusing on pragmatism and thoughtfulness in every action (or at least, aspiring to). Stoicism and virtue ethics.
- Keep asking for help, trying new things. Someone somewhere has an answer for you. It also helps if you have someone in your life to serve as your “patient advocate”, keeping you honest, on track, to help calibrate your self reporting.
- Sunlight. Get outside. Or take at least 4000 IU vitamin D.
- Predictable sleep patterns. Set an alarm both to wake up and go to sleep.
- Let go of societies values and expectations. If you feel a pressure to be successful, let that go. Swallow your pride, stay away from the desire to fulfill other people's expectation of you (if you can).
- Help people around you. If you are a good musician, start a meetup group in a park and teach people how to play guitar. If you are good at coding, start a meetup group in the public library to teach people how to code. Limit your students to 2-3 and try to make a deep, positive impact in their lives.
- From my experience, practicing empathy and helping others around me helped a lot. Be aware though, don't fall into the trap of trying to measure success by quantity. Its better to help 2-3 people become great than to help 100 people get average skills.
- I agree with you that happiness is peace. And it is a state of mind irregardless of what you experience, you can be in this peaceful state detached from emotions and feelings, only attaching yourself to things that matter to you. Mindfully observing your experience.
- As for its relation to neurochemistry, I most certainly agree that it plays a major role. That's why things like exercise, proper nutrition and plentiful sleep plays such a huge role in achieving and maintaining this state of happiness. Without those three things, or in other words, without you taking care of your body, reaching these states of being is simply much harder if not impossible.