Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Highlights of Happiness

December 8, 2009 by Linda  
Filed under Happiness

Do you experience happiness as joy or excitement, such as the feeling that comes from an unexpected windfall, or more as a sense of contentment and satisfaction – that warm glow from performing a random act of kindness? 

Happiness and its causes was the topic of a conference that I attended recently in Sydney.  Scientists, academics, religious figures and philosophers from both east and west examined happiness in relation to life, work, relationships and youth.

We all experience happiness in response to situations or events, the challenge for most of us however, is turning this fleeting emotion into an enduring state. 
Hedonia, (pleasure which comes from events like purchasing a coveted object such as a new car, or getting a pay rise) tends to be short term as we revert back to our “set point” of happiness relatively quickly. 

Enduring happiness is linked to a state of eudaimonia (human flourishing).  Dr Corey Keyes from Emory University states that eudaimonia has a number of elements:  contribution to society, social integration, social growth and potential, acceptance of others, social interests and coherence, self acceptance, environmental mastery, positive relations with others, personal growth, autonomy and purpose in life.  We require a minimum of six of these elements, and one element of hedonia to flourish. (Keyes, C., 2007)

In addition, a growing body of research indicates a reciprocal relationship between happiness and compassion.  People who are kind toward others, compassionate and altruistic tend to be happier.  By the same token, happy people tend to be kind and compassionate toward others.

We each have our own “set point” level of happiness.  This is thought to be 50% due to genes, 8-15% influenced by our environment, and the remaining 35-42% is up to us!  Irrespective of whether you experience happiness as joy or excitement, or contentment and satisfaction, we all have a significant ability to improve our current level of happiness.   So next time, instead of seeking hedonic pleasure, try a little kindness.

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