The United States is enthusiastic about happiness. Just a peek into our culture, we see that food such as the “happy meal” is geared to satisfaction in children, and their parents, for that matter. Our shopping malls are filled with feel-good finds and Instagram-lovers are constantly checking social media to rack up on those instant and gratifying comments and tweets. We are endlessly on the lookout for and seeking happiness.
America is ranked the 16th happiest country in the world. Compare it to Iceland and Denmark, where, respectively, the happiest people live. In Mexico and Puerto Rico, you will find the most satisfied people. So, are we missing something?
We may live relatively “happy” lives, meaning our basic needs are met, but what about satisfaction and purpose? At Jennifer Teubl Counseling, I strive to help people to explore what could bring greater levels of happiness and overall satisfaction.
Many times what I see is that there is a severe lack of connectedness to life and others in our lives. The two biggest factors that contribute to happiness around the world are a sense of community and frequent community celebrations. The connection we have with others, or rather, the lack of connection, is the deal breaker. Not only does sharing an experience with a friend or community add value to your life, but it activates a key area in the brain (the hippocampus) which is responsible for happiness and positive memories. Feeling connected provides an increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin which also helps to regulate learning, mood, sleep, sexuality, and appetite.
As we move through life, we find meaning and purpose in our time spent with others. The involvement with our communities and families is beneficial to them, but also is an essential ingredient in helping us to feel full and satisfied.