Happiness is…so much more than many realise

Happiness is…so much more than many realise

There's a hot debate within the science of positive psychology about the definition of the word happiness. 

Now this might seem like a simple debate but for academic psyhcologists…nothing is ever simple!

But all jokes aside it's an important issue because for many, happiness refers to a positive emotion, something we experience when we're engaged in pleasurable activities. And yes, this understanding is partly correct..but only partly. 

Because if we focus just on this aspect of happiness then we come dangerously close to living a life of hedonism. Which is not entirely bad; but just means the benefits we experience are relatively short lived and superficial. 

So, to enjoy the deeper more meaningful aspects of happiness, or what some have started to refer to as flourishing, one needs to look deeper and longer term and purposeful and meaningful activities, and positive and significant relationships, and accomplishment and health and wellbeing over our lifespans. 

Interestingly, this might sometimes require deferring or sacrificing short term happiness for longer term gain. A classic example is raising children; in the short term parenting tends to reduce our happiness (the pleasurable form, anyway) but in the longer term it increases the sense of meaning we have in life and often the extent to which we feel grateful and appreciative. Similarly, when working towards long term goals (such as my PhD or writing a book or completing an important project at work) we might need to put off some fun now so we can achieve something greater later. 

Happiness, therefore, involves having fun and enjoying life BUT it's also so much more than that. Balancing enjoyment in the moment AND achievement or meaning in the future is one of secrets to flourishing and living a good life. 

If you're in Sydney and would enjoy or benefit from discussing this further and learning how to work towards this balance then come and join me, Dr. Sharp (aka Dr. Happy) this coming Saturday! More details HERE