The Search for Happiness is Universal
The search for happiness is a universal goal. We all want to be happy, and we empathize with each other’s need for it. We search for it with all our might, our thoughts and actions focused on only one goal in life – to be happy. We may be successful, have numerous relationships and a lot of money, but without happiness, all will be meaningless.
Why define an intangible?
You know it when you’re happy or not, but it is an intangible feeling. Can something so intangible really be defined and measured? Is there any value addition in trying to define it?
Delving deeper is important for finding ways and steps which can enhance happiness. This motivation has led everybody right from ancient philosophers including Aristotle to define it.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines happiness as a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Another dictionary defines it as a state of well-being and contentment. Both are right but they do not explain or answer many questions, for example, a person very happy with his work accomplishments still might not be happy on a day to day basis.
Aristotle believed that happiness is often found in the doing of what you’re passionate about and in building connections that are meaningful to you. Positive psychology researchers including Sonja Lyubomirsky have built upon various definitions and come up with a comprehensive one- “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
Three dimensions of Happiness
1) Pleasant life- “Emotional well-being (How are we feeling today?)”
This dimension deals with the present moment and how we react to everyday situations. In day to day life, we are presented with many situations and we react with either positive emotions such as joy, interest, and pride, neutral response or negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and anger. Happy person’s ratio of positive to negative emotions is on the higher side and everybody can increase it.
2) Engaged life- “how engaged and involved are we with what we are doing?”
Vedantic concept of Swadharma states that everybody has a unique gift and we should do our best to develop and put it to use for the benefit of ourselves and other people. Modern positive psychology has the same principle of working on our natural strengths in the main areas of our life to lead a fulfilling life.
3) Meaningful life- “are we leading a life with impact?”
3rd dimension of happiness is where we are making an effort towards an end bigger than one’s self. Here we try to create a life with meaning and purpose. We should be able to look back, evaluate and get a feeling of satisfaction and pride. It is similar to the highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs-self actualization, where we feel that we are moving towards reaching our full potential. It is essentially an attempt to leave a legacy.
Defining happiness in a comprehensive way and looking at all three dimensions is a good starting point to find ways to increase our basal happiness level. Going ahead in this blog, we will be looking at different contributors of happiness and ways to enhance it. Amongst all the contributors, money is the most controllable and we will be focussing on money happiness steps -these will not be dependent on the amount but smart utilization of whatever money we have.