What is the definition of happiness?
Every happiness expert will give you a different definition of happiness, or subjective well-being as it is called in research circles. As a matter of fact, board member Sandi Smith wrote a 14-page paper on the definition of happiness when she was in grad school. Here is an excerpt:
- David Meyers defines happiness as an enduring sense of positive well-being, a perception that life is fulfilling, meaningful, and pleasant (Reich and Diener, 1994).
- John Reich says happiness is a sense of mastery over the good and the bad that happens in your life (Reich and Diener, 1994).
- Alex C. Michalos, a quality of life researcher in aging and remote populations, defines happiness as a long-lasting positive feeling and attitude. (Reich and Diener, 1994).
- Ed Diener has studied happiness for three decades and presents three components:
- The presence or preponderance of positive emotions or affect,
- The absence or low levels of negative emotions,
- Overall life satisfaction (Diener, 2000).
- Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, has defined three routes to happiness:
- Positive emotion and pleasure, the pleasant life
- Engagement, the engaged life
- Meaning, the meaningful life (Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson, 2005).
We suggest you adopt whichever one resonates with you.
Are there different types of happiness?
Board member Bob Nozik uses two definitions for happiness in his teaching:
- Ordinary (Hedonic) Happiness: Good feelings we develop in response to favorable life events or circumstances.
- Ideal (Eudaimonic) Happiness: Good feelings we create for ourselves independent of life events or circumstances.
Board member Aymee Coget answers with three types:
- Hedonic - brain-based, positive emotion, fleeting, external stimulating, 100% of people experience this happiness
- Eudaimonic - heart-based, nature of a good spirit, feeling a combination of meaning and purpose, in touch with your authentic self, and using your strengths daily (M.A.P.S.), less than 1% of people experience this happiness
- Chaironic - faith-based, spiritual connection, confidence in the universe, connected to your higher self, see the oneness in others, happy on deathbed
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