Biological basis of happiness
A person's overall happiness is objectively measurable. It does have a real physiological component.
The neurotransmitter dopamine, perhaps especially in the mesolimbic pathway projecting from the midbrain to structures such as the nucleus accumbens, is involved in desire and seems often related to pleasure.
There are neural opioid systems that make and release the brain's own opioids, active at these receptors. Mu-opioid neural systems are complexly interrelated with the mesolimbic dopamine system.
Stefan Klein in his book “The Science of Happiness” (200) links these biological foundations of happiness to the concepts and findings of Positive Psychology and Social Psychology. Neuroscientist R.J. Davidson has developed reliable tests to objectively quantify subjective levels of happiness using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography) (193).
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