Happiness is a concept that existed for thousands of years, but there has never been a parameter for it in all that time. Because when are you happy? If you’re in a healthy relationship? If you are wealthy? Or worry-free? Or perhaps all these factors are essential.
The concept of happiness has several meanings. Merriam-Webster describes happiness as:
1. a state of well-being and contentment
2. a pleasurable or satisfying experience
When you ask around people, the experience doesn’t seem easy to describe. Almost everyone turns out to have their interpretation of being happy. However, all reactions have the same denominator because everyone who represents happiness explains it as an excellent and pleasant feeling, something that you feel in your heart.
Research about happiness
Over time, much research has been done on the feeling of happiness. Empirical research began in the 1960s in various branches of the social sciences.
In psychology, the term is used to indicate mental health. Jahoda (1958) saw happiness as a criterion for “positive mental health,” and items about it emerged in the groundbreaking epidemiological studies of mental health by Gurin, Veroff & Feld (1960) and Bradburn & Caplovitz (1965).
Most empirical studies of the happiness experience are based on large-scale population studies. Still, there are also many studies on specific groups, such as single mothers, college students, or lottery winners. Most of these studies revolve around one-time questionnaire studies, but there are some follow-up studies and even experimental studies.
The definition of happiness
The definition of happiness is simple: “The state of being happy”. But that does not yet describe the term “happy”. Maybe we should dig a little deeper into it. The definition of “happy” is a bit clearer: “feeling or showing pleasure or satisfaction”.
That’s better! Happiness, then, is the state of feeling or showing pleasure or satisfaction. From this definition, we can deduce a few essential points about it:
When you are happy, there is a condition, not a quality; in other words, it is not a long-term, permanent trait or personality trait, but a changeable state.
Happiness equates with feelings of pleasure or contentment, which means that it should not be confused with joy, ecstasy, bliss, or other more intense emotions.
You can feel and show happiness, which means that being happy is not necessarily an internal or external experience, but both.
Is happiness measurable?
Yes, our feelings of happiness are measurable with the equipment developed by HeartMath Institute in America. The proper equipment from HeartMath enables us to measure heart coherence, a psychophysiological state characterized by optimal order and harmony in both our psychological (mental and emotional) and physiological (physical) processes.
To understand this better, we need to take a short detour into the research the Institute has conducted over the past 30 years into our hearts’ function. HeartMath researchers discovered that our heart has about 40 thousand neurons, making our heart more than a pump that provides blood circulation. Our heart has its own brain, the heart-brain.
In a state of heart coherence, we feel happy. This happy feeling stems mainly from gratitude, which is one of the most powerful feelings for inducing a state of heart coherence.
Fortunately, the HeartMath equipment can measure happiness is not thousands of euros of expensive medical equipment. The devices are very portable and available for a very reasonable price. Examples are the Inner Balance Trainer and the EmWave2.