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Written By: Maria Anwer:
Happiness, according to Merriam Webster dictionary is, “A state of well-being and, contentment.” It is an inside out emotion and, sprouts from a feeling of gratitude. Recently, I have met a patient at the Willing Ways Pvt. Limited who complained of chronic unhappiness quoting that he was diagnosed as a biologically unhappy person as his serotonin and, dopamine (which are neurotransmitters) levels were low naturally, that is, that they were produced in less quantity in his brain. The reply to his biologically suffering condition was challenging as to find a cure to his chronic unhappiness as he was a patient at the parent institution which provides clinical help to recovering addicts in follow up groups.
In an attempt to find an answer to his challenging medical condition, I aimed to deconstruct the disease and the term ‘happiness’ itself. As we are taught in the organization that there are always four facets of disorder problems: Biological, psychological, social and, spiritual.
Biologically, medicines should be able to cure misery. However, according to a TED talk by an inspirational speaker Helen Fisher, if people are put on a serotonin high dose, it affects the dopamine circuit. This in turn affects their ability to make a romantic relationship as such medicines kill sex drive, orgasm and, all the neurotransmitters that are associated with attachment. Hence, she says that when you tamper with one part of the system, you have to tamper with another. She speaks against being on drugs to raise serotonin levels for a long time because then it kills the ability to love.
Hence the true measure of happiness as per biology is not to disturb the dopamine circuit for long. It affects other important areas of life. Also, in a talk, Nancy Etcoff, a cognitive researcher, says that it is a Freudian notion that happiness is less of misery. Cutting edge research shows otherwise. It says that happiness is altogether a different emotion and, anything unlike the Freudian gloomy notion of happiness.
According to positive psychology, as it also comes to our rescue on our pursuit of happiness, puts emphasis on happiness being a by-product of meaningfulness and, social connectedness. Martin Seligman in a TED talk quotes his research saying that the pursuit of pleasure has no contribution to life’s satisfaction but, the pursuit of meaning has the strongest contribution. He also mentions that the pursuit of engagement is also very strong i.e. being social. Pleasure is a mix of both engagement and, meaning. He also says that if we do not have any of these then we have an empty life. Another research quotes a Harvard based study research which was conducted over 75 years which resulted in the fact that fulfilled relationships are a major reason of happiness of people.
According to a clinical psychologist’s view at the Willing Ways Pvt. Limited, talk therapy should be provided which is Cognitive Behavourial Therapy (CBT). It’s a therapy which helps in bringing the individual back to life. It is based on the principle that most of our behavourial problems arise due to irrational or, faulty beliefs and thinking. So according to that clinical psychologist, beliefs are the thought patterns which need to be worked on. First of all, automatic thoughts were pointed out that an effort has to be made to record, rationalize and, replace the automatic negative thoughts. It’s a simple exercise to convert our most dreading pseudo-realities into something which is not there at all after rationalizing.
In an attempt to deconstruct the term ‘happiness’ , Nancy Etcoff speaks in a TED talk on Happiness and, its surprises that as soon as we are going to deconstruct the term, there will be three emotions which will come under the umbrella of happy: Fiero, which is pride in accomplishment of a challenge; schadenfreude, which is happiness in another’s misfortune; and naches, which is a pride and, joy in one’s children. There is any emotion absent which would mean happiness in another person’s happiness. That aspect is covered with spirituality.
On a spiritual level, happiness comes into play as soon as we start valuing ‘now’ or as Eckhart Tolle puts it in his book ‘The power of Now’. He says that we need to get rid of the mental noise which otherwise, creates a false mind made self of fear and, suffering.. Mattieu Ricard, a Buddist monk, in his TED talk, the habits of happiness quotes that unconditional compassion makes one happy and, also happiness is a state of mental training. Meditation fills the gaps where one has bad feelings, anger, resentment, jealousy and, the like feelings towards anyone. He also mentions that nature also makes patients heal quickly than walls of brick. It means that nature participates in happiness quotient.