THE PHANTASM OF HAPPINESS 

We are unhappy because we spend most of our time, money, and attention on activities that tax rather than soothe our minds. We are unhappy when we are overburdened by the choices that are at our disposal, and we don’t know what to do with them. Amid ‘choice overload’, or ‘choice under load’,  it is difficult to keep track of desires and expectations.  We are unhappy when we use our capacity below our potential.
Optimism, hope, trust, faith, and confidence give us happiness. The problem is, as pointed by a happiness researcher, we vastly overestimate the hedonic consequences of an event. Optimism is good, over-optimism is not. Hope is good, hype is not. Often our happiness and unhappiness don’t follow any logic.
Can then there be a happy or an unhappy mind? Can we train our p
brains to overcome negativity? The brains can be trained  to appreciate positive experiences when we have them. The problem is with retaining the impact of positive experiences. It is important to see the whole picture that includes negative, positive, and neutral realities. The problem with us is that we don’t like to confront negative realities. Moreover, our brains have a negative bias. It evolved for survival. It evolved to face the threats of predators and natural hazards.
So many types of reactions go on in our brain all the time. Trillions of messages are sent and received by the brain every day. There are ‘happy’ messages carried by ‘happy messengers’. There are ‘sad messengers’. Happy messengers don’t like to confront stress for obvious reasons. Our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions all affect the brain’s chemistry. Besides food, relaxation and exercise affect our brain chemistry.  Positive emotions are associated with the ‘centres of reward’ and negative emotions with the ‘centres of punishment’.
The neocortex, the part of the  brain that is responsible for self-consciousness, plays an important role in the function of a happy mind. It is said to neutralize the impact of envy, one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Fear and the subjective sense of uncertainty are perhaps some of the major causes of unhappiness. No wonder the majority of our basic emotions are negative; out of the six basic emotions four (anger, fear, disgust, sadness) are negative, one (joy) is positive and one (surprise) is neutral. We may have been  made for unhappiness, but we love the phantasm of happiness.

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