What if I told you that your level of happiness is set at birth and no matter what happens to you during your lifetime, good or bad, it can’t be changed? That even winning millions in a Lottery, marrying the perfect mate, having the perfect family and working the perfect high paying job would still not increase your overall happiness — Now does that sound right to you?
Or that the only way possible to increase your overall Happiness long-term, is to Manipulate your Biochemistry. That’s right! Mood altering drugs! — Now that can’t be true? — Can it?
Happiness is a human construct, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative affects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis. Humans are not designed to be happy, or even content.
Instead, we are designed primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world. A state of contentment is discouraged by nature because it would lower our guard against possible threats to our survival.
So If you are unhappy at times, and who isn’t, this is not a shortcoming that demands urgent repair as the happiness gurus would have it. Far from it. This fluctuation is, in fact, what makes you human. — BY Rafael Euba / humans aren’t designed to be happy so stop trying.
In studying our brain, science suggests that our mental and emotional state (including happiness) is governed by biochemical reactions. And like all other mental states, our subjective well-being is not determined by external parameters such as; Money, Social Relations or even quality of life.
Happiness it seems, is simply a temporary infusion of feel good chemicals happening in our brains. — Yuval Noah Harari
People are made happy by one thing and one thing only – pleasant sensations in their bodies. Short, non-lasting bursts, determined by a complex system of nerves, neurons, synapses and biochemistry. This and this alone produces our Happiness, in the form substances; Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin.
REFERENCE BASED (In part) — Book: Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
Using an example in Mr. Harari’s book, let’s say that you have just won the lottery and are now jumping up and down with joy. Biologically speaking, your reaction is not directly attributed to your sudden monetary gain. While this good news may be the trigger, the ultimate cause of your joyful reaction comes from a short-lived biochemical rush induced by the Brain! A reward system that’s inherent to all Humans.
Also part of our Brain induced reward system is the pleasure created at orgasm (reward for attempting to procreate and continue the species.) So both the sudden burst of elation from winning the lottery and the intense feelings at climax are simply short-lived biochemical reactions. The resulting less intense high of pleasant emotions after that — is what we call “Happiness!”
Harari then goes on to say that our biochemical system seems to be programmed to keep happiness levels relatively constant, enabling us to experience the momentary rush (and afterglow) of pleasing sensations. But soon the needle falls back down to our inherent normal level. The needle at times must also fall below and well below our average Happiness levels. This enables us to experience and differentiate between them and insures that we DO feel the increased kick of pleasure from our reward system.
So? Let’s talk sex! Ah? I thought I’d get your attention! It seems our reward system plays a major role when it comes to the pleasures of sex and the inherent quest to reproduce. If sex wasn’t rewarded by pleasant orgasmic feelings, males (to a greater extent) would be less likely to seek it out. Maybe (other than intentional reproduction) having no interest at all? Thus greatly limiting the overall survival of our species due to a lack of rewarding reproduction incentive.
At the same time, these sexual reward feelings are made to last for only a short duration and not ongoing. If they did? Nobody would be doing anything else! Food, shelter even basic survival needs would become unwanted interruptions thus again putting the proliferation of our species in danger.
This sex reward in Males (Dopamine rush) has helped ensure our species continuation!
DOPAMINE: Or Dope-for-Men?
Okay Lady’s there you go, and guys, we now have science backing us up! The reason we men are so God awful horny all the time is because nature has made us that way! Just like other males in the animal kingdom we men are evolutionary programmed to have sex at any and every opportunity. Only today, it matters not if the female is “in season” so to speak. We’re just hooked on that addictive orgasmic rush.
No matter the evolutionary scientific reasoning. We Men will try anything and everything to get that sex reward thing. Studies (2017) suggest Men think about sex around 15 times a day! Perhaps since males are more visually stimulated where as women more emotionally — there is more opportunities to be found in the arousal of the male species.That’s my excuse at least — and I’m sticking to it!
Now we Men may often think with our penises instead of our heads, and it may not be all our fault, what with this natural sex reward thing going on. In fact I think they should change the word “Dopamine” to “Dope-for-Men!” Because that is exactly what it is and how it affects us guys. Sex, sex, sex, is all a young stud in his prime thinks about. — Thank God for baggy pants!
LEVELS OF HAPPINESS
Back to Happiness, or in this case, the levels of Happiness. It seems that each of us are born with different happiness capabilities. We each inherent a unique set of parameters that contain a limiting sliding scale.
Within this scale is set our maximum, minimum and average levels of reachable happiness. In other words, you are either born to be a “Happy Camper” a mostly “Fowl Mooder?” or an “Up and Downer!”
On a scale from one to ten, some people are born with a more happier biochemical system, their moods swinging between levels 7 and 10. Perhaps averaging around 8. They are usually (and can be annoyingly) happy all of the time! With them even bad news has them down for only a short duration before they’re back to their old happy selves once again. Perhaps you know someone like this? Frustratingly happy all of the time?
Frustrating in the sense of “What the Hell are you so Happy about?”
Then there are the opposites. Those born with a gloomy biochemical rating that may swing between say 2 and 5 with an average happiness level of 4. You may also know some people like this seemingly always depressed or in a bad mood and constantly complaining how life has given them the short-end of the stick. Even good fortune somehow gets turned around by their always gloomy disposition. — Remind you of anyone?
WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
So take a moment and apply this reasoning towards your partner, friends, acquaintance’s, or even family members. Are there some who remain relatively joyful no matter what befalls them? And others who remain disgruntled instead of counting the many blessings in their lives? What about those who fall somewhere in-between? And how about you? Where do you fit on the Scale of Happiness?
From a list of those you know well? Where would you place them on the scale of happiness? And you?
BORN THAT WAY?
Now, here is the shocker! Apparently, even life-changing events will not change or improve these levels of happiness we are born with. Even a person of very low-income and living poorly within these means who suddenly becomes very rich overnight will eventually (within 3 months or so) return to their previous original levels of happiness. We seem doomed to be who we are in this way and no matter what!
Even more so; studies show that happiness (or the levels of) on individuals has no relationship as to one’s: Wealth, Life Style, Social class, Hardships, Good Fortune or even Good Health! Simply put, if your inherent happiness levels are the same — A millionaire and a homeless wino can be on average equally happy!
NOTE: Although one’s happiness levels eventually re-settle on their own personal average level, spikes do occur continuously throughout one’s life both up and down depending on the occurrence. Life is changing all the time and it’s effects are felt no matter what the persons personal rating scale is. Research is simply saying that these spikes are temporary, lasting usually within a 3 month duration.
It makes no difference to a Brain that winning a Million dollars is better than scoring a bottle as a homeless wino! The only thing that matters is that the reward level of Serotonin is the same (on average) in both! The Millionaire would not be one iota happier then the wino! So taking this one step further — Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – None of these will bring you Happiness.
Happiness it seems, comes from one thing and one thing only! — From the feel good chemicals produced in your brain; Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin. Your reward system at work!
In fact, the only way to change one’s happiness curve permanently, is to Manipulate our Biochemistry. Mood altering or anti-depressant drugs are proof that biochemistry is at work here. In this case, by boosting or lowering your serotonin levels (feel good chemical) science has found a way to manipulate your happiness levels by understanding how your biochemical reward system works. — Prozac Anyone?
Is Happiness just a feel good chemical response from our brain and nothing more? I for one do not doubt the science, although for me the explanations sound clinically-cold in their finality? Even if our “Good Feeling” experiences are simply biochemically induced should we all now simply just throw up our hands when it comes to our never ending search for happiness?
If we accept Mr. Harari’s explanation of Happiness as merely being a good feeling biochemical rush and a result of our brain’s reward system then why not just trigger these rewards more often in an attempt at increasing our happiness? Lottery wins and sex are not the only things that trigger our reward system. To a lesser degree there are endless others: good food, good social friends, laughter, love, even exercise! A simple 40 minute walk (preferably in nature) will also reward you with a mild rush of feel good chemicals.
So why not go out of our way to identify what makes us feel good — then go out and do them more frequently? Break those dreary unrewarding habits of flopping on the coach and turning on the idiot box and instead do something that makes us Happy! Perhaps replacing old unrewarding habits with new happy trigger ones will improve our overall happiness? So sneak a chocolate now and then, pet a dog, go for a walk with a good friend and see if your not happier at the end of the day. Maybe working at being happy is the answer?
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET HAPPINESS FORMULA? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Happiness is a state of mind that I believe can be achieved with self-determination and a will to change. Perhaps a change in a current unhappy or stagnant situation or lifestyle? Change in our dreary or unhealthy repetitive habits? Even consciously changing our attitude and outlook on life? This all will take practice and willpower but in the end — Perhaps Happiness “can be” a conscious choice!
“Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure” ― Arthur Schopenhauer
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln