People chase happiness because no one wants to be unhappy. Some people are happy with the way they are, the way life turns out, and what they have. Others feel the need to find happiness in other things, people, and places.

It’s highly likely that those people have heard the saying “happiness comes from within” at least once in their lives. All that is usually easier said than done. And how are we supposed to feel that happiness within us anyway? Should we already be feeling it all the time? The truth is, you do!

The Prefrontal Cortex: Our Very Own Simulator

In the front of our brain we’ll find our prefrontal lobe. And here we’ll find our prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is similar to flight simulators that pilots use in training. This helps them to practice emergency flying before it actually happens in real life. Our prefrontal cortex works the same way by helping us to experience things in our head before we actually do in real life.

Making Decisions and Weighing Options

We experience this happening when we imagine an outcome of a situation. This happens when we make decisions and weigh out our options. Here’s an example, here are two different future outcomes and decide which one you would prefer: winning the lottery or being paraplegic.

Assuming you chose winning the lottery, most people would usually pick that option. People usually start to simulate in their minds the life of a paraplegic to be challenging while the life of a lottery winner is so luxurious.

Since we all want to live happy lives, we would choose the lottery winner. However, research has shown that after the hype of a gain and the sadness of a loss, lottery winners and paraplegics lives equally happy lives.

Impact Bias

This is an example of impact bias. Your simulator is giving you that quick preview of an experience before it happens. But this is how the simulator would perform poorly. Because you chose lottery winner, when both outcomes actually have equal outcomes as far as happiness. You simulator made something seem worse than it really is.

Find Your Own Happiness

Luckily, we have a psychological immune system. This gives us the ability to change the way we think about happiness or what makes us happy. This is where we can find that happiness within. We’re able to create our own happiness. Not necessarily fake it till we make it, but actually feeling happiness especially when it’s unexpected.

Synthetic Happiness vs. Natural Happiness

This would be a synthetic happiness. Some people view this kind of happiness as inferior to natural happiness. But whats the difference between natural and synthetic happiness?

Natural happiness happens when we get what we want. Synthetic happiness what we make when we don’t get what we want. Of course our modern society and the economy reinforces the idea that we can ind happiness in particular things that we want so we should get it.

Happiness Recovery

However, synthetic happiness is just as meaningful. Here’s an example of synthetic happiness. We’re given two choices, option A and B. We want to choose option A because it’s better for all the right reasons. But then we’re told that we can’t have it and instead we will be given option B (the one we didn’t want because it didn’t seem as good).

Later, to our surprise, we actually really like option B and maybe we realize that it turned out to be better than option A would have been. This sort of “happiness recovery” is the psychological immune system working. We’re able to find happiness in what happened, not in something we were after.

Not feeling happy?

We need to remember that happiness isn’t something we need to chase after because we have the capacity in ourselves to create that very commodity. If you or a loved one seems to be down in a rut, unsatisfied with life, and feel like they need more than what they have to feel happy (or don’t even know what makes you happy), please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who will work with you to be happy again.