Why do most of the poor people seem happy?

World lucky day What actually makes us happy?

Everyone defines happiness differently. For the UN General Assembly it means social and ecological well-being as well as satisfaction. To promote this, the "Day of Happiness" was proclaimed for March 20th in 2012 - at the endeavors of the small Asian country Bhutan. Since the 1970s, there has been a domestic political objective that puts national happiness above gross domestic product. The "day of happiness" is intended to motivate societies to engage in a discourse on what would make them happy and how that can be achieved if necessary.

Happiness research also deals with these questions. However, sociologists and psychologists are concerned here with our individual, subjective well-being. Objective answers to the question of what happiness is cannot be found, explains Professor Manfred Spitzer from the Psychiatric Clinic in Ulm.

You can ask people, you can also try to narrow it down scientifically. For example, what happens in the head when someone feels happy? One can ask why do they have them, how do they work. But that's like the blue sky too. If you are color blind, all scientific or unscientific things are of no use. Then they don't know what the blue sky is either. You have to experience happiness first and then you know what it is.

Prof. Manfred Spitzer, Ulm Psychiatric Clinic

According to international experts, Norwegians are the happiest people in the world. In the World Happiness Report, which was presented for the fifth time in New York on Monday, Norway improved from its previous fourth place to first place, overtaking Denmark, which had previously been the front runner three times.
Germany stagnates at 16th place - behind, among others, the USA, the Netherlands, Israel and Costa Rica. For the report, the researchers examined 155 countries.

The people in Germany are therefore not the happiest in an international comparison. According to a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), however, they are more satisfied with their living situation than they have been since reunification. The reason for the increase in satisfaction is the catching-up process in East Germany, they say. However, the feeling of happiness measured in the East is still below the West German level. On a scale from zero to ten points, the satisfaction value in 2015 was 7.6 points. It reached its lowest point in 2004 with 6.9 points.

What really makes you happy?

So there are many individual answers to the question of what makes us humans happy. One of them is simply that people are happy, who often have positive feelings and who are by and large satisfied with their life. This is the answer given by happiness researcher Karlheinz Ruckriegel from the Technical University of Nuremberg. This kind of happiness even has consequences for health: "Happiness relieves the immune system, which means: We are healthier and live longer. You calculate five to ten years here." According to Ruckriegel, successful social relationships, health and volunteer work are happiness factors. Which is of less help if the goals are money, beauty and popularity.

So money really doesn't make you happy? Probably not, is the unanimous opinion of most happiness researchers. According to the biopsychologist Professor Peter Walschburger from the Free University of Berlin, the things that made us happy in the long term are those that have had a decisive influence on us in our incarnation: For example, spending time with the family or with familiar people in a functioning social structure. This is also the opinion of Professor Manfred Spitzer, head of the Psychiatric University Clinic in Ulm.

The most important thing is probably the social contacts. We can never get enough of the community - we also know that. We are happy when we are with nice other people. And that never stops.

Prof. Manfred Spitzer, Ulm Psychiatric Clinic

But our surroundings also have a clear influence on our well-being: Exercise and natural surroundings, forests, trees and meadows can have a positive effect on our feeling of happiness. In the "World Book of Happiness" researchers also list these factors for happiness: a stable love relationship, health, a job that corresponds to one's own abilities, friends, children and money for basic needs.

Money makes you happy too

However, under certain circumstances, money can actually make you happier. Several studies have shown that spending money on others makes you happier. However, if you spend money on yourself, you will not be happier, but neither will you be sadder - at least when it comes to real assets. Because if you want to make yourself happy with money, you should invest in experiences, advises Professor Spitzer:

But if you are throwing a party or going on a trip - ideally with the whole family. This trip just keeps getting nicer in your head. You know the rose-colored glasses for the past. That means it doesn't collect dust, it doesn't rust, it gets better and better over time. That is why it contributes more and more to their happiness in the long term. And then they have the chance that the money they spend will also bring them a little luck.

Prof. Manfred Spitzer, Ulm Psychiatric Clinic

Winning the lottery on the account alone does not ensure happiness in life. It may bring security, influence, and power, but not necessarily happiness. This is shown not only by experience reports but also by scientific studies. Because when you have more money, you adjust your expectations upwards, explains happiness researcher Karlheinz Ruckriegel. "The higher income is ultimately the same as the lower income."

The term luck comes from the Middle High German word "Gelucke", which was once used to describe the happy ending of an event. Today it is mainly used in two different meanings:

to be lucky
You are lucky if you are fortunate enough by chance. Typical examples of this are winnings in the lottery or gambling, being favored by chance or at least not suffering any disadvantage.

Feel happiness
Psychologists also refer to the feeling of happiness as subjective well-being. It is both a feeling and a state that a person is in. Feeling happiness can be a permanent feeling of happiness or satisfaction, or it can be one of short duration - a moment of happiness.

Learned is learned: the school subject of happiness

Happiness researcher Karlheinz Ruckriegel is not surprised that many people do not know what makes them happy. "Nobody tells you that either." Instead, the school teaches that it is only important to learn as much as possible.

What do I do so that I feel comfortable and draw energy from it and be creative? You don't learn that.

Prof. Karlheinz Ruckriegel, Technical University of Nuremberg

Ruckriegel therefore welcomes the fact that there is now a very special school subject: happiness. Pedagogy says that happy students argue less, are more creative, learn more easily and know what is important in life. And school in particular is supposed to prepare children for a successful, fulfilling life. That is why they learn in the school subject happiness, to take responsibility for their own happiness, ability to deal with conflict and physical and mental health awareness. It was invented and introduced by senior teacher Ernst Fritz-Schubert in 2007. Since then, numerous schools in Germany and Austria have introduced it.

As students learn how to become happier in life, their happiness even increases. Because the fact that we feel really good now and then is due to a mechanism that has to do with learning - according to the modern scientific view. Until now, it was known that when dopamine spills from the depths of our brain into the frontal lobe, then the brain cells are more willing to learn, more receptive, more responsive and we feel good, we have fun. But Professor Manfred Spitzer explains that it has also been found that this effect mainly occurs when something beautiful, new, interesting happens that we do not yet know. This finding then led the scientists to the unusual thesis that happiness is not an end in itself, but rather a side effect: a side effect of learning.

The chemistry of happiness

Of course, science has tried to find out what actually happens in our bodies when we are happy. And from a purely biological point of view, it is clear that our brain produces substances that make us happy. Endorphins and dopamine, among other things, create well-being and satisfaction in us. But not only that. The body's own morphine, which the endorphins contain, not only puts us in high spirits, it also regulates our pain perception. Professor Peter Walschburger, biopsychologist at the Free University of Berlin, believes that for this reason alone happiness came into this world through biochemical routes:

Interestingly, nature itself has equipped long-lived creatures with pain control systems. Because long-lived living beings cannot get through their lives without experiencing phases that are extremely stressful and extremely painful. And then those who can release endorphins have an advantage.

Prof. Peter Walschburger, Free University of Berlin

By the way, brain researcher Manfred Spitzer thinks that we are addicted to happiness. Of course, he means the release of happy substances in the body. One of the best ways to satisfy the brain could be love: For example, those who are freshly in love release more oxytocin and phenylethylamine as well as endorphins such as serotonin. Even if we are pleasantly surprised, these messenger substances make us euphoric. Neurologists are sure that the feeling of happiness has to wane again and again.

The way to the chocolate side of life

The Dresden psychologist and book author Ilona Bürgel has outlined a path to happiness. She says if we lived the way we eat chocolate, we would be a lot happier. What is that supposed to mean? Instructions in four steps:

1. Don't procrastinate so much

Ilona Bürgel says that we usually postpone the beautiful things that we enjoy and do well. It often means that you do it when the children are out of the house. With chocolate, on the other hand, nobody would say: I'll have the next piece when I'm retired.

2. No lazy compromises

Often we just do things because they should be or are expected of us even though we don't like them at all. On the other hand, we would never reach for dark chocolate on the chocolate shelf when we actually want Alpine milk.

3. Enjoy the moment

Our thoughts are often in the future or the past. We miss the really nice moments in the here and now, says Ilona Bürgel. "To see this strength of what is happening and to be happy in the moment will be important for the future, because everything will not go on so that everything grows, gets even better and even better. That is why we should enjoy the moment like a piece of chocolate that we can relish to melt on the tongue.

4. Take responsibility

In real life, we often leave the initiative or certain decisions to others. When it comes to chocolate, we usually grab it ourselves. The decision of what lands on our hips is also our own. That is why we should take more responsibility for our own life in hand, take care of ourselves more, and not allow ourselves to be bothered so much, says the psychologist.

on the radio | 03/20/2017 | 1:49 pm