Happiness versus wellbeing

Happiness versus wellbeing

According to Gregg Henriques from Psychology Today we should be emphasising wellbeing rather than happiness….

Several decades ago, during the period of my emerging adulthood, I occasionally experimented with psychedelic drugs. On one occasion, I took ecstasy, and to this day recall its effects. In terms of pure experience, it ranked right up there as one of the happiest nights of my life. Indeed, I know the exact date, February 11, 1990. Why? Because it was the night that Buster Douglas defeated Mike Tyson. My friends and I interpreted this event as one of the great victories of good over evil in the history of mankind and that somehow the Karma of the world had improved. We hugged each other and spoke of love and goodness and the promise of tomorrow.

Now consider the following. The drug cost me about $30 and for that I got one of the happiest nights of my life. And yet I never did it again, and don’t plan on doing so now. How can we explain that?

First, let me be clear as to why it is difficult to explain from some perspectives in psychology and economics. Many perspectives assume that the root calculator of our investments is pleasure and pain. That is, the bottom line that we are trying to accomplish with our actions is maximizing our pleasure and minimizing our pain. And several researchers have argued in various ways that this is what we ought to be doing. For example, the Nobel Prize winning researcher, Daniel Kahneman, explores what he calls, “objective happiness”. Kahneman has discovered that there really are two systems of mentation that relate to feeling good. The first is the actual here-and-now experiencing of the feeling. The second is the remembering, reflecting, narrating system that decides how satisfied we are with the experience and uses that reflection to decide what was good for us. Psychological researchers have documented that these two systems are quite different from one another. Kahneman is concerned that the second system is basically just a rationalizing system and believes we ought to be focused primarily on the first system. His concept of objective happiness involves the in-the-moment experience of pleasure/pain and argues that true utility is found in the sum of those experiences, much more so than in the reflected narration. Why does he take this position? Kahneman shows convincingly in his research how easy it is to “trick” the reflective narrator in to believing something is better than it was, at least in terms of raw experience (see the linked article for examples).

Kahneman is not alone, and proposals for increasing happiness are all the rage…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE

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