World Happiness Report
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how it might be attained.
It is of such fundamental importance to the human condition that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" were deemed to be unalienable rights by the United States Declaration of Independence.
The United Nations declared March 20th International Day of Happiness to recognize the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals. In 2014 Happy (Pharrell Williams song) became the anthem and inspired clips from around the world.
Meditation has been found to lead to high activity in the brain's left prefrontal cortex, which in turn has been found to correlate with happiness.
Psychologist Martin Seligman asserts that happiness is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures, and provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have:
Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.),
Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals)
Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. Happiness in this sense was used to translate the Greek Eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics.
Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components. Related concepts are well-being, quality of life and flourishing. At least one author defines happiness as contentment. Some commentators focus on the difference between the hedonistic tradition of seeking pleasant and avoiding unpleasant experiences, and the eudaimonic tradition of living life in a full and deeply satisfying way.
The 2012 World Happiness Report stated that in subjective well-being measures, the primary distinction is between cognitive life evaluations and emotional reports.Happiness is used in both life evaluation, as in “How happy are you with your
life as a whole?”, and in emotional reports, as in “How happy are you now?,” and people seem able to use happiness as appropriate in these verbal contexts. Using these measures, the World Happiness Report identifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness.