Firstly, let’s get something out there – happiness is not that simple. It’s a rich and dynamic concept with many facets.
Your happiness is influenced by your mind-set and your perspective. It’s also about your everyday thoughts and behaviours, your choices, your resilience and your strengths.
Happiness is not just one emotion either, it’s made up of many others such as ‘inspiration’, ‘gratitude’ and ‘hope’ (see Barbara Frederickson’s 10 emotions of happiness).
And that’s AMAZING!
Happiness isn’t just a one-time thing we have to keep striving for in the distance. It’s here and now, ready for the taking! And there’s SO many ways we can get happy which are totally under our control. Awesome!
To start, understand there are two types of happiness
1) Hedonic: fleeting, temporary pleasure
Once this type of happiness is over, you’re soon wanting more. You might get this happiness from a pay rise, shopping, eating, alcohol, drugs, sex, holidays, nights out, flashy possessions, watching a comedy show and so on.
2) Eudaimonic: deeper, long term wellbeing and fulfilment
This could be achieved through health and fitness, meaningful relationships, awesome conversations, kindness, nature, pets and animals, travelling, art, innovation and the unbounded expression of who you truly are.
Some things give you both
Sex for example gives a temporary pleasure, but with someone you love it also lends to deeper wellbeing. Art can be a fun night out to the theatre, or it could be the creation of your own art.
Is one type of happiness better than the other?
You’ve probably guessed that that Eudaimonic is going to enrich your life much more than Hedonic. But, that’s not to say we can’t enjoy some fleeting pleasures too.
The buzz of Hedonic happiness is part of life and because some things give you both types of happiness, you’re always going to experience this temporary high at some point.
But, perhaps its things that give you ONLY Hedonic happiness that you might want to think about, especially when they become an excess.
Some people get stuck on what’s termed the Hedonic treadmill. They drive themselves into excess with fleeting pleasures, in the hope that it might somehow give them what they seek.
Perhaps they are not aware that what humans really seek is deeper fulfilment
The highest human need according to Maslow is ‘self-actualisation’, a fulfilment that comes from continuously developing yourself, expressing and engaging in your unique desires and interests and nurturing your inner wellbeing.
This is the stuff of Eudaimonic happiness.
The glitter and gold of Hedonic happiness is alluring as it skits around on the surface of life. It looks easily accessible and it appears to do the job. And, as it’s often glorified by media and a celebrity culture, people believe that it’s where they will find their truest joy.
But, it can never truly fulfil you because that is not the nature of Hedonic happiness.
For real, long lasting happiness and wellbeing, you must dive deep
Find out what’s inside you that longs to be expressed, experienced and fulfilled. Find out what things in life make your soul sing and your heart flutter. What brings you meaning and wellbeing?
Dive into yourself and find your treasures of true happiness. They are there for a reason. They want to be found. They want to be lived.
And don’t forget, happiness is a way of life, not a destination