Not having the best day or eager to broaden your knowledge? These psychological facts about happiness will make you smile and provide excellent conversation starters.
We all have an idea about what happiness is. And we all experience it throughout our lives—whether it’s contentment, cheerfulness, satisfaction, or pleasure. However, that’s not 100% true; some people lose the ability to feel joy.
There’s a lot more to happiness than you might know. So let’s uncover some of the lesser-known truths about happiness.
Before we enter the happy verse, you might also enjoy clueing up on these facts about dreaming.
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37 Psychological Facts About Happiness
Let’s get into it. Here are 37 facts about happiness to brighten up your day.
1. Some People Lose the Ability to Feel Happy
It only makes sense to elaborate on the point made above. While it seems unreal, the ability to no longer feel happiness is possible, especially amongst depression and mental health disorder patients who also experience tremendous sadness.
This occurrence is known as anhedonia, which is described as the inability to feel pleasure. It’s actually a common symptom of depression and mental health issues. And there are two types of anhedonia that one may experience: social anhedonia and physical anhedonia.
Social anhedonia is when you don’t feel like spending time, or interacting, with others. At the same time, physical anhedonia causes you not to enjoy physical sensations, from hugs to flavors in food and even sexual intimacy.
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2. There Are Four Hormones of Happiness
Everything we feel and experience emotionally is due to a chemical reaction in our pituitary gland. When it comes to happiness, this pituitary region produces four types of hormones to make you feel happy. This includes satisfaction, pleasure, joy, or any other positive or feel-good experience.
The four hormones responsible for happiness are as follows: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. The strongest of the four is dopamine, often called the “happy hormone,” which is why it’s always closely associated with the “rewards center” in our brain.
Dopamine can affect our mood, motivation, attention, movement, memory, and more, so it’s definitely a powerful hormone.
3. Finland Is the World’s Happiest Country
Finland is crowned the world’s happiest country for the sixth year running. Why is this country so happy, though? One of the main reasons is the level of support the Finns receive from their government.
Who wouldn’t be happy if they had free access to healthcare and education? Besides not having to stress about medical bills and student loans, Finland also has low crime rates. Living in a stress-free and safe environment is a key ingredient to a happy society.
Another component that makes the Finns happy is being surrounded by abundant nature. Think about it: Most of us would be much happier surrounded by forests, waterfalls, and glistening lakes than in a concrete jungle filled with pollution.
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4. Health, Family, and Purpose Make People the Happiest
The pursuit of happiness is no new concept to psychologists and philosophers. They’ve been trying to figure out what makes us happy for centuries. Most research suggests that three factors affect happiness the most:
- Having meaningful relationships with your family and friends.
- Maintaining an enjoyable hobby or working conditions.
- Giving back to your community and those in need.
Of course, there are many other factors too. For example, many people are happy after their needs are met through wealth. So money, success, and achievements play a huge role too.
5. At Least Some Animals Experience Happiness
Current interdisciplinary research supports the idea that some animals experience emotions like happiness, fear, shame, compassion, and rage. Animals such as dogs, cats, rats, sheep, pigs, rhesus macaques, chickens, and honeybees, among various species, have shown optimism.
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6. The Quokka Is the Happiest Animal Alive
Expanding on the above fact, the happiest animal alive is the adorable quokka. These furry little marsupials are native to Australia and are known to have a cute and friendly appearance.
They aren’t actually ‘smiling,’ though. It’s just the upturned shape of their mouths that makes it look like they’re grinning. And to add to the cute factor, they often stick out their little tongues to cool off.
Due to the country’s harsh living conditions, most quokkas now live in isolated forests and small islands. Although friendly, they’re still wild animals that aren’t shy about biting.
7. The Term Happiness Has Nordic Origins
The word happiness stems from the Old Norse term happ, which means “luck” or “chance.” While this seems a bit removed from how we use the word happiness today, it’s common for semantics to evolve with time.
For example, the Old English relative of happiness is hæpic, which means “equal.” In the 1500s, happiness was used to refer to “good luck” and to describe “success” and “contentment,” which are still used today. However, we use the term happiness in more ways than ever before.
8. Sleep Has a Significant Effect on Our Overall Happiness and Wellbeing
The amount of sleep you receive profoundly affects your overall happiness and well-being. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation results in difficulty remembering and registering positive ideas. At the same time, you’ll likely find it easier to recognize negative emotions and thoughts.
Moreover, sleep and mood are closely related. A lack of sleep causes mood swings, irritability, and stress. Chronic insomnia may even lead to developing a mood disorder such as anxiety and depression.
Psst: If you think that is mind-blowing, have a look at these interesting facts about crying.
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9. Happiness Is Good for Your Health
According to a research study by Psychosomatic Medicine, the more positive you are, the less likely you’ll come down with the common cold. A survey of patients with coronary artery disease showed a healthier heart rate pattern after describing themselves as “happy” or “extremely happy.”
That’s crazy, and to support this idea, being more positive lowers your stress hormone cortisol levels, which in turn improves your health. Psychologists are still figuring out why and how this is happening, but for now, waking up with a smile each day might just be the key to a long and prosperous life.
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10. Listening to “Happy Music” Boosts Your Mood
Turning up your favorite hype music when you’re feeling down is a common practice. A good song can make you feel ready to take on a tough week or get in the mood for the gym. So it does truly help.
Upbeat music, especially ones you like, can kick your brain’s reward system into full force. You can go even deeper than that, though. “Happy” music positively affects neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, that impact your mood.
Next Read: Check out these incredible facts about love.
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11. A Study Concluded That Our Happiness Is Partially Inherited
Happy parents are more likely to have happy children. Who’d have thought? This makes sense though, as kids are the carbon copies of their parents.
This idea is supported by a study by University of Minnesota researchers. The study observed multiple pairs of identical twins and concluded that approximately 50% of the twins’ happiness had a genetic correlation.
12. Smelling Flowers Makes You Happy
There’s a reason why we give flowers to our loved ones on special days or when they’re feeling down because it does, in fact, lighten up their mood.
Decorating your home with flowers is not just about aesthetics. It can make anyone who steps inside feel at ease. How does this even happen? A study by Rutgers University suggests that floral scents trigger the brain to increase the feeling of happiness.
In conclusion: Do not hesitate to stop and smell the roses.
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13. Social Media Can Ruin Your Happiness
It’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm. However, it hasn’t been all fine and dandy. Most people who spend hours on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram tend to feel they have lower self-esteem and fewer positive thoughts.
In most cases, social media makes people feel less confident and happy with themselves. If you want to follow other people who are like you or feel genuine, then ditching the flashy celebrities and influencers can make a huge difference.
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14. Certain Foods Make You Feel Temporary Happiness
You’ve heard about how food can boost your mood and energy. But did you know some foods contain an amino acid named tryptophan that induces temporary euphoria?
That’s right. Foods like chicken, nuts, and milk contain tryptophan, encouraging our brains to release serotonin. In addition, when we eat chocolate, our brain starts releasing endorphins, another feel-good hormone.
So the saying: you are what you eat seems to have some truth to it after all.
15. Pets Make You Happier — If You’re Feeling Sad, Try Petting a Dog
Petting a pup can be a source of happiness for many who’ve had a stressful or sorrowful day. As obvious as this may sound, there’s some science to back up how petting your dog can make you happier.
When you’re around animals, your brain will most likely release oxytocin, known as the “cuddle hormone.” Oxytocin lets you feel content and happy while reducing stress levels.
In conclusion, you can call on your furry friend to help with anxiety and stress and make you feel better.
Related Read: Have a look at these surprising facts about anxiety.
16. Hearing Laughter Tricks You into Thinking You’re Happy
There’s a reason why sitcoms use pre-recorded laughter throughout their shows. That’s because hearing another person laugh may trick you into feeling happy. So ultimately, you start associating that feeling of happiness with the show and will likely end up enjoying it.
However, this happens in real life too. Surrounding yourself with people who laugh a lot will have a positive effect on you.
Many researchers (neuroscientists, to be exact) believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons that fool your brain into thinking that you’ve been laughing this whole time. Crazy!
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17. Happiness Increases as You Age
You probably know about aging gracefully, but there’s another saying around the block: aging happily. Studies conducted by the University of Alberta tracked the level of happiness of their subjects over 25 years. They determined that the older you get, the happier you become.
18. Happiness Can Make You Less Creative
While this sounds like a bad thing, it’s only accurate to a certain degree. Those with high levels of happiness may not experience the same amount of creative bursts compared to those who feel less jolly.
So it doesn’t mean you’ll stop being creative as you pursue happiness. It simply means that moments of melancholy are more likely to lead to innovation and artistry. Observers note a strong correlation between sadness, attentiveness, and attention to detail.
If you think that was interesting, you might also find these psychological facts about lying fascinating as well.
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19. Overly-Happy Individuals Might Have Unrealistic Viewpoints
It’s believed that depressed people have a more accurate view of their surroundings and place in the world. Researchers have put forward this concept as ‘depressive realism.’
In one study, a group of students was asked to press a button that would make a green light either turn on or not turn on at all. It was concluded that nondepressed subjects overestimated how much control they had when asked to press the button.
In contrast, depressed students were a lot more accurate. Very cheerful people tend to find it hard to detect a lie, meaning they are easily deceived, altering their perceptions of life.
20. Yellow Is the Happy Color
You might have heard this one before. The color yellow is indeed a symbol of happiness. But have you wondered why?
The main reason is that yellow is associated with the hues of the sun. Sunlight uplifts your mood and makes you feel re-energized. Sunny weather also makes you feel better, so it makes sense that a color that reminds us of the sun has such profound psychological powers.
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21. Hourly Wages Make People Happier
Research by the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that those who earn an hourly wage are happier and more productive than those making a set salary. This might be because employees can determine the exact worth of their time on an hourly basis.
This research alludes to the idea that time and pursuing happiness outweigh money. That’s because hourly workers generally earn less, have reduced benefits, and have less job security than their salaried counterparts.
22. Being Outdoors Makes You Happier
Being out and about with the sun beaming on your skin surely brightens the mood for many. Fresh air and the sounds of nature put you at ease, whereas confined spaces can make you feel trapped.
According to a study posted on Global Environmental Change, the optimal conditions for happiness include warm weather and being near a water source. Merely walking outside and admiring the trees lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Overall, nature simply makes us happy.
23. Some Types of Happiness May Be a Source of Dysfunction
Happiness encapsulates a spectrum of emotions. Some feelings of joy can hype you up or slow you down, while others bring you closer to your loved ones. But as the title suggests, not all forms of happiness promote positive benefits.
For example, pride brings many people joy when they’ve achieved something or climbed higher on the social ladder. And while pride is generally associated with positivity, it can make you so self-absorbed that you ruin your relationships with others.
To break this point down further, pride may make you happy, but with it comes aggression towards others, antisocial behavior, and mood disorders like mania that can come into play.
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24. The Pursuit of Happiness Might Make You Feel Unhappy Instead
Trying your best to be happy every day might adversely affect your mental wellbeing, which causes you to be less happy. It has to do with the fact that the more you value happiness, the more you might face disappointment.
While this notion is easy to grasp, you might be left scratching your head and wondering how you achieve happiness. It’s easy. Turn the focus on yourself and make others around you happier. There’s something magical about seeing someone break into a smile.
This is where giving back to the community or those in need comes in. But, of course, it doesn’t have to happen on such a large scale. Making your loved ones happy with treats, jokes, gifts, or simply your presence will, in return, make you a happier person.
25. Winning the Lottery Often Makes People Less Happy Than Before
You’ve just hit the jackpot and now have access to so much money that you can buy a mansion and sports cars. So you should be on cloud nine, right? Well, that’s hardly the case for lotto winners, as winning such a large sum of money often comes with baggage.
Many lottery winners experience increased amounts of stress, anxiety, and depression because they don’t know how to handle it. It flips your average life upside down; family members and friends can turn on you. In many cases, you can feel alone because people start seeing you as an ATM rather than a fellow human being with feelings.
Another substantial negative factor is how often jackpot winners pick up bad habits, including excessive gambling, drug use, unhealthy drinking, partying, etc. All these are referred to as the ‘lottery curse’ by many.
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26. Married People Tend To Be Happier
Married people are 10% happier than single people. While the single life appeals to many for its freedoms and laidback conditions, it seems that being married may make you happier. That’s because of what was touched on earlier — you’re happier when you make others around you smile.
While you can feel fulfilled being alone, having a committed partner provides you with support and physical and psychological satisfaction you can’t receive from friends and family. Knowing that you have someone you can rely on can alleviate a lot of stress.
27. Consumerism Greatly Suppresses Happiness
You might be thinking: ‘Shouldn’t the ability to buy whatever you want make you happy?’ Designer clothing, fancy cars, and expensive jewelry should be a source of happiness, right? Yes and no.
While things like shopping can make you feel euphoric, the effect lasts about as long as an Instagram like. It’s a quick dopamine fix, but it won’t have any longevity in terms of your wellbeing. This quick burst of satisfaction or instant gratification will only become addictive and force you into a cycle of constantly pursuing the next shiny plaything.
Instead, opt for experiential purchases such as special dinners, concerts, and trips as your source of happiness in the long run.
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28. Your Mindset Determines Your Happiness
This one might sound obvious, but how happy you are is determined by your state of mind, specifically your beliefs and quality of thoughts. Feeding your brain with positive thoughts results in a healthy, calm mindset free of negativity.
Your happiness is determined by whether or not you want to be happy, regardless of your environment or the people around you. So, essentially, happiness is a choice.
29. Some Cultures Frown Upon Happiness
Not every culture is keen on happiness. In fact, some of them even fear the idea of being too happy. There’s quite a considerable difference in how Western and Eastern cultures perceive happiness.
Happiness is much less valued by Eastern cultures. For example, prominent Eastern religions like Islam and Taoism express a consistent fear of or hesitation towards joy. In fact, Hong Kong Chinese view happiness as being calm and relaxed. Whereas Americans associate happiness with high-arousal positive states like excitement and enthusiasm.
In Russia, smiling publicly hinted at being foolish, manipulative, or sneaky. On the flip side, the majority of the Western world scored much lower on empathy. So just because people aren’t outwardly cheery doesn’t mean they’re not empathetic.
30. There’s a Genetic Disorder That Makes You Feel Happy All the Time
Some people are born with a genetic disorder known as Angelman syndrome. This disorder causes delayed development, intellectual disability, speech and balance problems, and sometimes seizures.
Aside from these, people with Angelman syndrome often have happy and excited personalities with plenty of smiles and laughter.
31. Acting Like An Extrovert Can Make You Happier
Acting like an extrovert can make you happier, even when you’re an introvert. Shy and socially awkward people find it intimidating to put themselves out there, but doing so might increase your happiness.
Humans are inherently social creatures. Your wellbeing relies on intimate social interactions—so like food and water, socializing is a basic need. That said, it makes sense why our brains release feel-good hormones when connecting with others.
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32. Washing Dishes May Make You Happy
This can’t be real, right? Most people can’t stand washing dishes, especially after a long day. Well, you may want to start enjoying it as a study found that mindful dishwashing can be soothing and reduce stress.
Apparently, the smell of soap and the feel of dishes helped subjects become mindful. There’s more to this, though. Cleaning, in general, increases endorphins, boosting your mood.
33. Laughing at Yourself May Make You a Happier Person
Taking yourself too seriously may stand in the way of being a happy individual. Accepting your imperfections and laughing at your quirks creates a more positive mindset because you’ll worry less about what others have to say about you.
Many studies show that people who laugh at themselves are more positive and happy. Not only that, but self-deprecating humor can increase your self-confidence too.
34. Happiness Follows a U-Shaped Pattern Throughout Our Lives
Research suggests that we experience happiness in what is seen as a U-shaped pattern. That’s because we generally experience the most significant level of happiness in early adolescence. This is a time when we have few worries and responsibilities and are typically surrounded by lots of friends and family.
However, happiness starts taking a dip when we enter our 30s and 40s due to a focus on careers, achievements, and the responsibilities that come with being a working adult. These include starting a business, starting a family, building careers, getting married, buying a home, experiencing financial setbacks, etc.
Eventually, when we hit our 60s, our priorities change again. This time it’s geared toward enjoyment and fulfillment rather than responsibilities and other obligations.
35. We’re Often Not Happy On Our Birthdays
Many people aren’t as jolly as you’d expect them to be on their birthday. It’s due to the fact that many people see their birthday as a realization of what they thought their lives would be like at this stage. And many people aren’t happy with their position in life, so they start having pessimistic views.
This is especially true for those in their 30s who feel like they haven’t reached the milestones that they’ve set for themselves.
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36. Anticipation Makes You Happier Than the Actual Experience
Looking forward to something spectacular can often make you happier than the experience itself. Anticipation is not entirely bad, though, as it’s a powerful positive emotion that can improve your happiness.
Research suggests that waiting for material things is particularly pleasurable. So we’re more excited by the idea of getting something than actually having it. The adverse effect is that having high anticipation can often lead to disappointment.
Think about when you looked forward to a movie or a date, and it didn’t impress you or go as smoothly as you had wished.
37. Happy People Spend More Time Thinking About Others
Unhappy people tend to focus heavily on themselves, their needs, desires, and personal woes. At the same time, happy people spend more time thinking about the wellbeing of others and their relationships with them. They also tend to be more helpful toward others and often sweep their personal matters aside to lend a helping hand.
Thinking more about others directly correlates with the quality of relationships and happiness. Having good relationships makes you happy, but if you’re overly focused on yourself, you might find it hard to foster quality relationships with others. As a result, unhappy people can become lonely over time, making them even more sorrowful.
So one of the keys to happiness is to focus less on yourself and more on those around you, whether they’re loved ones, peers, or even work colleagues.
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