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Happiness – what is it anyway?

Everyone strives for it – and yet each person has their own idea of great happiness. We have tracked down big and small happy makers for you.

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A multi-faceted word

For some, happiness means spending a day outdoors, climbing peaks in beautiful weather with plenty of exercise, pushing themselves to their own limits time and time again. For others, happiness is their favorite meal, cooked with heart and soul, enjoyed in a restaurant or simply delivered directly to their door. Others are most happy spending a cozy time on the sofa with a good movie. And some are happiest when they can surprise and please their loved ones.

Big and small happy makers

In short, everyone decides the meaning of happiness for themselves. It is long-lasting and fleeting, exciting and calming, material and spiritual. But it is one thing above all: contagious.

American Express SELECTS wants to make you happy: We regularly go on the search for offers that will put a smile on your and your loved ones’ faces.

It’s all in the head?

But how do feelings of happiness even come about? Personal happiness is in fact not just all in the head, but is significantly influenced by external factors that affect the human body.

So "food makes you happy" is not a myth: Bananas and chocolate, for example, contain a particularly high level of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps form the messenger substance serotonin, which belongs to the group of "happiness hormones". Spiciness and pain can also generate happiness: Chili and pepper , for example, can trigger a pain stimulus that causes the body to release endorphins.

The sunny side of life

Many scientists believe that low serotonin levels are responsible for many people’s depressed moods during the winter months. When sunlight hits the skin, the body also releases endorphins. One of these is serotonin, which can only be produced with the help of vitamin D. A group of substances that – you guessed it – are produced when sunlight hits our skin.

Earlier to bed!

Getting enough sleep will also ensure that you are less prone to negative feelings and memories the next day. These are in fact processed by the amygdala, an almond-shaped cluster of nuclei in the brain. Positive and neutral memories, on the other hand, are processed by the hippocampus, the memory center. Too little sleep unfortunately affects the hippocampus more than the amygdala.

Smiling makes you happy

Another factor for personal happiness is smiling. Deliberately smiling may seem strange, but it works – and even relieves pain. And you’ll get even more out of it if you can manage to make yourself smile with beautiful thoughts: That’s what a study by Michigan State University on permanently smiling customer service representatives found.

It’s better to give than to receive

Selflessness also makes you happy. Just helping out for two hours a week is enough. That’s 100 hours a year, and according to researchers, it’s the magic number where it is more blessed to give than to receive. A study in the "Journal of Happiness", for example, showed that money spent on others makes people happier than money spent on fulfilling their own wishes.

The key to happiness

Our conclusion: There is no precise definition of great happiness. However, there are factors that have a significant influence on our happiness, and these are not only to do with the mind, but can also be influenced externally. And that is precisely why the big and small happy makers in our lives are so important.

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