The Science of Happiness
THE SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS | AN ESSAY BY ZULAY HENAO
Disclaimer: I am not a Philosopher, Theologian, nor am I a Scientist.
I am a human being, curious about the value (or not) of seeing happiness as a destination, rather than at the core of the pure essence of existence. I’m just a girl with a deep desire for truth and knowledge. So please, view this essay as more of a candid conversation amongst friends, in the vast symposium on The Pursuit of Happiness.
I recently started an online 10-week program at Yale University, the “The Science of Well-Being”. That sounds very elite and exclusive, and it is, but it should be noted that the course is offered to the public, free of charge, and landed serendipitously on my lap. I, of course, dove right in. So here we are, exploring what science says about well-being and happiness. Through this course, I have downloaded apps, listened to lectures, discovered my signature strength (spirituality), and taken a survey to quantify my happiness (I was shocked to know my score, and am currently debating disclosing in this article, which raises another question altogether, agh beautiful life!) Here is the site, if you would like to brave the scientific elements, and learn your character strengths, along with me!
I’ve educated myself on the pillars of happiness, what qualities, states of being, and emotional life one must encompass to achieve a sense of overall well-being, like gratitude, kindness, meditation, savoring (loved learning about this one), exercise and sleep. I mean we all have right? Inevitably we've all picked up a book on self-care, attended a yoga class, attempted deep meditation and learned 1st-hand about the boomerang effect of kindness? Well, although I feel I have learned a lot before, this course gave me some shocking insight.
First of all, scientists, statisticians and some of the smartest people in the world have conducted studies on the correlation between happiness and money and it turns out that most Americans’ emotional well being/happiness plateaus after a $75,000 a year income. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I was gut-punched when I heard this! In the materialistic world that we live in, it turns out that no matter what our bank account looks like, our happiness will not significantly increase past a certain amount of cash. No, no, we are designed much more intricately than that (but we will get into that in a little bit). If you’re among those to discredit statistics, hold on, because that’s the conversation at hand! Where do we put our trust, what can we believe in, what is infallible and whole?
These same studies have found the age-old tradition of finding happiness through the institution of marriage, doesn't always amount to happily-ever (not that it can’t) but the idea that love for another will equal happiness can prove to be erroneous and counter-intuitive to our search for lasting happiness. That’s a real tough-pill to swallow, right? Or is this information the beginning of the truth? Is it possible that through the avenues of science and education we are being lead to the bigger conversation?
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
I LOVE THIS QUOTE!
Heart intelligence trumps intellect. “By order of amplitude, the heart's electromagnetic field is 60 times that of the brain”, yet another beautiful scientific fact that resonates, loudly and viscerally. God is the ruler of the heart-space. The undeniable, infallible truth is in our inherent divinity. It lies in the perfect Law of Existence that science cannot discount. The path to love, joy, happiness and a life of true abundance lies in our ability to release our wrong thinking. Letting go of the belief that happiness is something we must earn and out of our immediate reach.
Having said that, I have a deep respect and reverence for the vast world of science. Scientific knowledge improves education and the quality of our lives, it feeds our society immensely. But education alone won’t take us to the promised land. Check out this article on why science does not disprove God - Here’s an inspiring scientific fact from the TIMES article:
“The sum total of human knowledge doubles roughly every couple of years or less”
My conversation starts and ends here:
Our happiness is our own inside job, it is our’s and our’s alone, and what a powerful conclusion to come to. This freedom should break our chains, lead us to new pastures, filled with consciousness, mindfulness and a place where joy and happiness are ours for the taking, even when life and it’s circumstances can seemingly appear to rob us.
“The circumstances that may seem initially the hardest to accept could turn out the be the very circumstances the benefit us the most.”
My good friend Tyler Perry once gave me the most compelling, yet simple advice: “Zulay, you have to live knowing!”
WE MUST LIVE KNOWING!
LIVE KNOWING! What a dynamic place to reframe the whole conversation. Go ahead, start today, just for today, live knowing that happiness is your birthright.
Make a new agreement with yourself - live knowing the truth of who you are, and take all the science, tools and lessons life graciously offers on the journey with you!
I love you all madly,
MODERN MUZE | Connecting - Soul, Science, Sex and Society.