So, what causes happiness? What makes people happy? There are probably as many causes as there are people, but what type of happiness are we talking about here?
If we're talking about the transient happiness we get when we make a purchase or have a night out with friends, then there are of course many causes of happiness as there are people.
Our age often determines where we find happiness. A six year old child will have endless fun in a park swinging, sliding and getting dizzy on the round-a-bout. Whereas his 70 year old grandmother will very much enjoy siting on a bench watching him.
Our gender also comes into play with what makes people happy. I know I may be accused of stereotyping but a lady may be very content chatting with friends whislt creating a cross stitch picture by the fire, whereas her husband would find it more exhilarating to be out playing rugby in the rain.
Different types of personality can also determine what causes happiness. An extrovert will have a blast at a large and lively party whereas an introvert may be blissfully happy reading a good book under an oak tree on a summer day.
I know that some extroverts cannot imagine that an introvert could ever be as happy being on their own, as they are when they're with friends (and vice versa). In fact, because in this world there are three extroverts for every introvert, the world is geared more for the extrovert's happiness.
I want to reassure the introverts in this world that just because we (yes, I'm a very happy introvert) do not share the preferences of the majority of the population, it doesn't make us any less happy.
It might help here if I define the two personalities.
An extrovert person replenishes his energy from being with people, whereas an introvert replenishes his energy by being solitary.
This doesn't mean that an introvert is necessarily shy. Shyness is a separate trait. I have a bubbly personality and enjoy conversing with people, but being surrounded by people for a long time depletes my energy and I then need to have my own space to feel balanced.
Well, so much for transient happiness. I would say that this is only part of the picture. Happiness doesn't just consist of doing some activity but more of being. So what causes happiness, if we're talking about 'being'?
I would contend that being loved and accepted for who we really are is a major cause of happiness. Of course it's wonderful to be loved and accepted by others, especially a significant other, but if you really want to be happy for no reason, you need to love and accept yourself unconditionally.
I would contend that there are very few people on this earth today who actually truly love themselves.
"But wait!" I hear you say, "Why would I want to love myself? I can't stand those people who are puffed up and conceited. Why would I want to be like them?"
Well, I think we need to get our heads around what it really means to love yourself.
If you delved deep into the psychology of those people who brag about themselves and give the impression they think they have a high opinion of themselves, you would find a person with a very low self esteem. Their way of dealing with their low self esteem is to pretend they esteem themselves highly. They are desperate for love and approval of others and try to show others they are worthy of it by telling everyone how great they are. So now you know this, you can have compassion on them, for this is definitely not what causes happiness for them.
A person who truly loves themselves, who has a high self esteem, has no need of the approval of others and therefore it would not occur to them to brag.
How can we be totally happy for no reason if we don't love ourselves? If we don't accept ourselves as we are, we will be listening to that inner critic which gives a running commentary with everything we do. You've heard it I'm sure "You idiot, why did you say that?" "You never do anything right!" "Oh, I'm so stupid!"
If you want to get to the root of what causes happiness, stop this inner critic, get to love and accept yourself and work out how to be happy, take a look at this page on ways to improve self esteem for some advice.