Exploring the three types of happiness
This free High Performance Newsletter article explores the three types of happiness identified by Dr Martin E.P. Seligman.
This article is based on some key extracts from an edited transcript of the AFR BOSS Club presentation by Dr Martin Seligman in Sydney on Wednesday 15 February 2006. See full transcript at: AFR BOSS Web Article. The direct quotes are in italics.
Positive psychology and the three types of happiness
Dr Martin E.P. Seligman, a proponent of positive psychology, has identified three types of happiness.
A pleasant life consists of having as much pleasure as you can, as many of the positive emotions, and learning some of the dozen or so techniques that actually work for increasing the duration and intensity of your pleasures. There are shortcuts to the pleasures. You can go shopping; you can watch television; you can take drugs. These things do not lead to true happiness.
An engaged life is being one with the music, being totally wrapped up in the people you love or what you're hearing. There are no shortcuts to the engaged life. The engaged life can only be had by first knowing what your highest strengths are, your signature strengths, and re-crafting your life to use them at work, in love, in leisure, in parenting and in friendship.
A meaningful life consists of again knowing what your highest strengths and talents are and using them in the service of something that you believe is bigger than you are.
Hugh Heffner was wrong. The pursuit of pleasure makes almost no contribution at all to a satisfying life. It is the pursuit of meaning and the pursuit of engagement.
Life satisfaction is not a function of pleasure, it is a function of engagement and meaning. Longevity and morbidity is surprisingly a function of the positive variables as opposed to the negative variables.
Another is the effect of wealth on happiness. Most of you (referring to members of the AFR Boss audience) probably think the wealthier you are the happier you will be. Well, it turns out there is a good study of the Forbes 150, who are the 150 richest people in North America. They have the same levels of happiness and depression that you do and if you quantify once you're above the safe - below the safety net, more money makes you more happy. Where you are, however, and there are people who quantify this, just looking around - here's my guess - if you are thinking about giving up three weekends next year to earn an extra $10,000, my suggestion is don't do it. Quantitatively, it turns out that spending those three weekends with your friends and your family will bring you more life satisfaction than another $10,000.
Source: Dr Martin E.P. Seligman, the Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
Website for more information: authentichappiness.org.
The differences between a pleasant life and an engaged and/or meaningful life need careful examination. It is always useful to reflect on the important things in life.
Further reading on positive psychology
The Glee Club - Positive psychology focuses on cultivating personality strengths and honing an optimistic approach to life. Exercises like writing a "gratitude letter" or making a "gratitude visit" can be a life-changing event. Psychology Today
Personal endeavour - achievement under difficult circumstances - if things seem difficult, then this free article may provide some inspiration - it is about achievement under difficult circumstances.
Personal contribution - making a difference - The personal contribution of individuals varies greatly. If you have ever thought about the difference you make, this article may provide some form of measurement.
Personal giving - receiving assistance from others graciously - this free article provides insight into the importance of giving and receiving advice or help from others
Personal and business renewal is important - highlights the importance of personal and business renewal. A business approach by an interesting organisation is highlighted.
Other personal development articles can be found at: Personal Development Articles Index.
You can subscribe to this free newsletter. Only your name and email address is required, see: High Performance Newsletter Administration page. Your privacy is protected, see privacy page. Each article is short, easy to read and to the point. The newsletter is designed to provide useful management information and tips, not to promote products or services. You will not be bombarded with promotions.
To review the newsletter, see: Listing of recent newsletter articles. All articles relate to a performance theme, but individual newsletters cover a specific topic. Themes include customer service, leadership, management, website marketing and time management.
You can publish this article, see: Publication.
Derek Stockley conducts public training courses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, including a Public Train the Trainer Program.
These Ads appear as part of our monitoring of internet activity.