Secrets of Wellbeing Series — Part 1: Authentic Happiness

By Mary Jaksch

This is the first of a seven-part series on the Secrets of Wellbeing. The reason I’m launching into this series is because I’m excited about what is happening in the field of psychology and how new research supports ancient teachings.

A new direction called Positive Psychology has started to take centre stage. Instead of looking at problems and how to fix them, Positive Psychology investigates what allows us to experience life at its best. In this series I’ll discuss what we can learn from this research.

What is happiness?

This question is important for each of us because our view of happiness determines how we live our life.

As Martin Seligman points out in his book Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, there are three main ways how people view happiness. Read on to find out which one of these three ways describes the way you see happiness.

    The Pleasant Life or the ‘life of enjoyment’

In this way of life we seek out pleasures and try to avoid pain. The great thing about this way of life is that we truly taste and enjoy the special moments. Like starting a powder run on a snowboard or sharing a laugh with your partner.

But there are some problems with this view of happiness. One is that pain is inevitable in life: relationships end, health can be precarious, and death is certain. This means that if we expect to gain happiness only from pleasure, we are ill equipped to deal with suffering.

The other problem is that the sum of our actual experiences, and how we judge those experiences in retrospect can be radically different. Seligman gives the following example:

When asked about a vacation – so he explains – you might answer, “It was great!”, even though the flow of experiences at the time may have been a series of unpleasant moments, such as sunburn, mosquito bites, upset stomach, scary situations, and a fear of blowing your budget.

I think the same goes for pleasant experiences. I don’t know how it is for you, but after about a week of lying about on a tropical beach I tend to get restless. I miss being creative and productive. So, even though there may be a constant flow of pleasant moments, my overall experience is that of feeling unfulfilled.

    The Good Life, or the ‘life of engagement’

This is a life where we find out what our signature strengths are and shape our life accordingly. This leads to flow – which means that we are at one with ourselves. When this happens, time stops. We feel at home, and self-consciousness fades away.

But even when we develop flow, there can be moments when it isn’t enough. We see time leaking away and begin to wonder, “Is this all there is to life? Or is there more?”

    The Meaningful Life, or ‘life of affiliation’

This way of life means using your signature strength in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are. As Martin Seligman says, “Joining and serving in things larger than you that you believe in while using your highest strengths is a recipe for meaning.” If you live life like this, you leave a legacy.

What legacy will you leave?

I’m sure you will appreciate that each of these different views of happiness can shape our life in a particular way.

Authentic happiness is made up of all these three strands.

You might like to look at how these three strands play out in your life. Are they in balance? Is one of them stronger than the rest?

What are your thoughts on happiness? I’d be interested to know.

***

Check out the following posts in the ‘Secrets of Wellbeing’ series:

Secrets of Wellbeing Series – Part 2: What are Your Signature Strengths?
Secrets of Wellbeing Series – Part 3: Future Happiness? Why We get it so Wrong

Photo by Eric R Ward

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{ 48 comments }

1 chriso February 3, 2008 at 12:50 am

Hi everybody,

The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton, a book of interpretations on Chuang Tzu, contains a beautiful piece entitled Perfect Joy. Here is a small excerpt from it:

“My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness: and this, in the minds of most people, is the worst possible course.”

I find this passage very helpful and also very funny!

Gassho,

Chriso.

2 Vitor - The Fractal Forest February 3, 2008 at 1:24 am

Hi Mary,

You have a point here. Often, the pursuit of hapiness and self-develpment leads in a direction opposite to the intended.

3 Hersh Bhadwaj February 3, 2008 at 1:51 am

Well, I am not easy with using words like: ‘pursuit’, ‘finding’, ‘searching’, ‘chasing’, whe used with happiness. Indian spirituality and Buddhism alwasu stated that happiness is a state of mind and can’t be found externally. Its like desert mirage…you its there, but when you get there toiling, you dn’t find it there.

4 C. January 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you! I am glad somebody said something. Happiness cannot be found by following a step by step process. Much of the human experience is being fully present in unpleasant moments. I suppose the idea behind “focusing on the good times” is to prevent people getting from getting lost in the negative experience but the way it is worded gives the wrong impression. Happiness is a state, not a destination and if you are constantly focusing on the positivs stuff, you are perpetuating the idea that people only benefit from good experiences, most of my growth and understanding has come from the less pleasant stuff. The idea behind being fully present in the moment is not to ignore negative experiences but to be present in them and find ways to understand, cope and move on. Happiness cannot be found or chased, it simply is. What can be found is your way of existing in it.

5 Mete February 3, 2008 at 4:21 am

Hmm, I think the way I tend to see things is from a surfers perspective – and I know that for every wave of happiness I surf, be it a wave of pleasure, ‘goodness’, or ‘meaning’, there’s always either a wipeout, or a long or short paddle back out, a struggle thru possibly heavy waves to get out back again.

So with that in mind, I guess for me happiness is being able to take the wipeouts and the paddle-outs with a clear mind, like “ah, is that so?” mind. To know that a paddle-out precedes a good wave, and never to expect that my next wave will be ‘it’ – that thing which would provide for me an absolute and never-ending smile. Cos that ain’t so.
And then to enjoy the next wave without brooding on the impending struggle!

Maybe that amounts to not taking myself too seriously?

6 Mary Jaksch February 3, 2008 at 6:26 am

@ Chriso
That’s funny! And there is something about the quote that rings true: when we try to be happy, it doesn’t quite work. Happiness is highest when it grabs us unawares.

I came across something similar yesterday. I was reading an article on charisma yesterday and in it the author described ways in which one could appear more charismatic. Same problem! If you do something to induce charisma, you actually lose any you might have had in the beginning.

7 Mary Jaksch February 3, 2008 at 6:38 am

@Vitor
I’ve always been intrigued at the article in the American constitution which protects a person’s right to the ‘pursuit of happiness’. The phrase implies that happiness is something can be hunted down and which lies in ‘doing’ and not in ‘being’. But happiness doesn’t let itself be ‘pursued’ or ‘done’ – otherwise it turn can turn into the opposite.

8 Mary Jaksch February 3, 2008 at 6:56 am

@Hersh
The desert mirage – what a lovely image!
It’s true, when we seek happiness externally, it doesn’t really happen – when we get there it seems to evaporate. However, when we change our actions and habits, our mindstate is influenced. So, there is a flow from ‘outside’ to ‘inside’ and vice versa. So, I think we can intentionally change aspects of our life to experience more happiness.

I came across the following quote by the Dalai Lama:

People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.

Is ‘cultivation’ the same as ‘pursuit’?

9 Mary Jaksch February 3, 2008 at 7:10 am

@Mete
I love the way you use surfing as an example of how happiness works!

Yes, it’s so important to enjoy the thrill of catching a wave without thinking of the next long paddle out. It’s the same in ordinary life: if we keep on thinking about what difficulty or suffering might be waiting in the wings, we can’t enjoy the moment.

At the same time it seems to me that the sense of how fleeting life is adds a poignant vividness to happiness. The experience is amplified and deepened. What do you think?

10 Albert | UrbanMonk.Net February 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Hey there Mary! Positive Psychology is a fantastic development, one that has been taking my interest tremendously, and I was happy to see that you’ve covered it here. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

11 Mary Jaksch February 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm

@Albert
Thanks for your comment, Albert. I agree Positive Psychology has great potential. I too am excited about this series. I’m keen to hear what you and others have to say. We can all learn and grow together.

12 Mete February 4, 2008 at 6:54 am

Yes I agree completely there Mary, the words ‘poignant vivdness’ seem perfect to me here! It seems like, when I look into that fact of fleetingness, I get a different angle to look at everything from – that poignancy sort of cuts through the usual taking-things-for-granted filters in my brain, at least for a while. And then the taste of happiness or sadness – or just being-aliveness – takes on a different quality.

That’s something I derive quite a lot of pleasure from, now and then reflecting the fact that I’m doomed to death ;) onto the present moment – and even though I have no knowledge of an “after-life” and thus have no anticipations of anything hereafter, it’s really not in the slightest bit morbid; actually I’d say its quite the opposite. Very refreshing!

13 Mary Jaksch February 4, 2008 at 8:19 am

@Mete
Thankyou for bringing a crucial point into our conversation, Mete. You point out that there is a connection between the awareness that life is transient- and happiness. Yes, indeed!

I’ll take up your point further on in the series. Just briefly now:
Awareness of this connection is one of the great differences between, say, Positive Psychology and Buddhism in particular, or spirituality in general.

How do you others see that?

14 Liara Covert February 5, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Many perspectives certainly exist when it comes to defining and explaining happiness. No matter what each person reads or hears about in other ways, each person goes through a process of learning to discern the meaning of happiness inside. Awareness of feelings helps human beings learn to distinguish between what evokes happiness alongside what they sense does not. I like to remember that peeling the layers of an onion makes a useful analogy. You can peel away the layers of ideas you have been conditioned to associate with the idea of happiness and discover what happiness feels like for yourself.

15 Mary Jaksch February 5, 2008 at 2:23 pm

@ Liara
Thank you, Liara. I like your analogy of the onion. It’s true: our ideas about happiness prevent us from experiencing it.

16 Ian Henderson February 6, 2008 at 8:29 am

Is it necessary to define what we mean by “happiness” at all? I spent many years and most of my 20s and early 30s following childhood depression and then family breakup trying to find this precise answer: how can I be happy?

Eventually, I started to find something of the answer by turning it around: why am I unhappy? The answer, of course, is essentially Buddhist. And finding it and then discovering it in Buddhism was a major reason why I became a Buddhist.

I am unhappy because I cling to things, situations, and so on that change. Essentially I don’t get what I want, or I get what I want but it doesn’t last. I analysed this “change” and found that it was everywhere; including within myself. So unhappiness arises because I am living in a way that opposes inevitable change.

Giving up attachment to things, and to our selfishness, is the key to finding happiness. I’ve found that as I gradually do this, and become more cognizant of others, I feel happier. I may never have found this, had my life been more “happy”!

One last point, I’m a frequent migraine sufferer (so much so I can’t work at present). I have developed a meditation technique to manage the pain, though I am unable to do that and continue doing other things. One of the perhaps surprising findings is that something as unpleasant as pain is not wholly unpleasant. It has different aspects, some of which may be pleasant or neutral. (I manage the pain by acknowledging negative or positive aspects as they arise, and then returning to the neutral aspect chosen as a meditation object. In my case, there is a slightly cold sensation that I use.)

Metta,
Ian.

17 Mary Jaksch February 6, 2008 at 10:17 am

@Ian
Thank you for your rich and interesting post, Ian.
It’s true that in Buddhism the usual approach is to investigate the question ‘Why do we suffer?’ And, as you rightly point out, one of the answers to that is because we tend to live in a way that opposes inevitable change.

I’m interested to see that some leading Buddhist teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, focus on the flipside of this investigation, that is on what makes us happy.

My sense if that there are core truths about what creates suffering. The main one is that we cling to the idea that the ‘self’ is separate from what we see as ‘other’. Another is (as both Mete and you mentioned) that life is fleeting and we struggle against inevitable change. To see into these matters is to develop spiritual wisdom.

But there are also practical considerations of how to live our life so that we can experience more well-being. This is about developing practical wisdom. Spiritual traditions don’t as a rule have much to say about such ‘minor’ matters. But I think they are important: I see too many people following a spiritual path who disregard the simplest practical steps to wellbeing.

Your experience of migraine is very interesting. It’s as if you are just experiencing without putting a label of ‘happy’ or ‘unhappy’ on the moment. I think this is the secret of peacefulness: if we go deep enough in any experience, we find a kind of joy at the core.

Thank you for sharing with us so openly!

18 Mary Jaksch February 6, 2008 at 10:18 am

@ Everyone
I’m delighted with the wonderful comments that are coming in. I would love others to engage in a dialogue with the commenters too.

A simple way of doing this is to flag who you are addressing. For example, if you are commenting on my post or my comments, start with ‘@Mary’; if you are commenting on a comment, start with ‘@ …(commenter’s name).

In this way we can get a rich discussion going!

19 Deb February 7, 2008 at 6:51 pm

@ Mary and everyone

Your comments have provoked me to thinking about how I define happiness and my own well being. I find it difficult to relate to the term “happy”. For me it has connotations of lightness and triviality.

It definitely relates to my degree of comfort in any situation.

However, the experience of “joy” is something completely different. Even in times of deep unhappiness, I can experience “joy”. That deep knowing of oneself and the reality of my connectedness with all others.

20 Mary Jaksch February 8, 2008 at 9:11 am

@Deb
Like you, I always thought that happiness was something trivial. But I’ve changed my mind. I’ve been reading the Dalai Lama’s words a lot recently and he keeps banging on about happiness.

To be happier means to be more connected, that is, more compassionate and kind. It means to be healthier, more energetic, and less self-conscious. When we are happy, we perform better, are more creative, have more confidence, are more loving, infect others with happiness –and we enjoy life.
What’s trivial about that?

I think happiness and joy are definitely different experiences – maybe different levels of experience. How you define joy is beautiful, ‘A deep knowing of oneself and the reality of my connectedness with all others.’

What do others think of happiness versus joy?

21 AmazingMess February 8, 2008 at 9:59 am

Hello Mary & others

In my experience joy is in the longing and happiness in the playing. In joy there seems to be a desireing part, a little movement away from the moment, a delay of fulfillment and in happiness there is a presence of forgetfullness. But written like this it appears to strict, to much of prose and to less of poetry. There is a kind of no man’s land between the two, where the two atmospheres of meanings intermingle.

22 Mary Jaksch February 8, 2008 at 11:44 am

@AmazingMess
Thank you for your comment! ‘Happiness is in the playing’ – that rings true to me.
In my life I’ve learned much happiness from my partner David. He has a sunny disposition and loves playing. I love the moments when we laugh together, or dance, or jump over waves in the sea. Those are true happiness moments. And when I then return to my usual focussed work, I carry a new lightness and a smile.

23 Deb February 8, 2008 at 1:06 pm

@Amazingmess

AHA! I can definitely relate to happiness being in the “playing”, which is perhaps why I see happiness as “trivial”. Probably still a few things for me to work on there as my upbringing certainly did not encourage “playing” – hard work and more hard work was our mantra.

thanks Mary and Amazingmess — I think I will play with happiness a bit more and explore its boundaries and see what sits in its centre.

24 Mary Jaksch February 8, 2008 at 1:38 pm

@ Deb
I found a beautiful poem by W.H. Auden (from Death’s Echo)
It has bearing on happiness…

Dance, dance for the figure is
easy
The tune is catching and will
not stop
Dance till the stars come down
with the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you
drop.

25 Shona February 8, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Happiness for me is definately in the letting go of self consciousness, in the delight of the moment, of getting lost in the dance. For me joy and happiness are very closely related. If I am happy there is usually also a sense of joy and when I am full of joy I am also happy. Perhaps it is just that I have never really pulled the two apart before. I will give it a try and see what happens!

26 Mary Jaksch February 8, 2008 at 9:59 pm

@Shona
It’s interesting that joy and happiness are so joined in your experience, Shona.
I’m not so sure that’s the case for me. A few weeks ago my mother-in-law died and I felt the loss keenly. As you know, I was leading a retreat at the time. I grieved for her and gave my grief space to unfold. The grief made me feel whole and grounded. When I allowed that grief to be there – with the song of the birds and the sound of the distant valley stream – I experienced a quiet kind of joy, but I can’t say I was happy.
The joy was very much as Deb described it: ‘A deep knowing of oneself and the reality of my connectedness with all others.’

I resonate with what you say about happiness that it’s ‘the delight of the moment, of getting lost in the dance’!

27 Mete February 9, 2008 at 1:01 am

I have all kinds of problems when I think about ‘happiness vs joy’, because I also feel the two are very closely linked. I can talk about the differences to me between contentedness and ecstasy, perhaps the two defining poles on my own personal feel-good-scale, but happiness and joy are more difficult for me..

My first impression is that happiness is more like contentedness – I can be happy while I’m apparently grumpy to others (i.e. each morning), and while I experience joy I can feel nervous or perhaps sad; but not vice versa.

But just from thinking about these words I start getting conflicting ideas in my head, and I have a strong sense that its not important to me to dissect my labels for those emotions. If I’m good, I’m good, and if I need someone else to know it I’ll intimate that somehow…

28 chriso February 9, 2008 at 1:23 am

@everyone,

Hi.

for me happiness, joy, contentment, serenity (its a long list I guess, even just in English), can be four strong limbs, integrated in their workings, of the one enlightened body.

I love that story of the king who to prove a point had those blind gentlemen trying to describe an elephant by the feel of the beasts particular appendages.

29 Mary Jaksch February 9, 2008 at 8:17 am

@Mete
I agree, Mete – it is a bit confusing to try and tease apart what is joy and what is happiness. But it maybe important. After all, there are maybe things we can do to experience more moment of happiness in life. AHA…a light has started to flash in my brain: ‘doing’ is maybe a key word!
Happiness maybe connected to ‘doing,’ and joy maybe to do with ‘being’.
What do you think?

30 Mary Jaksch February 9, 2008 at 8:30 am

@Chriso
That’s lovely, Chris: that happiness, joy and so on is the integrated working of the one enlightened body.

If someone were at ask me right now, I would say that happiness is tasting a cup of tea while sitting up in bed on a cloudy morning.

By the way, the story of the blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and are then in complete disagreement about what they have touched is very ancient and appears in Hindu, Buddhist, and Sufi writings.

31 Arthur February 10, 2008 at 9:38 am

@Mary and everyone,

I’m especially grateful for Deb’s words describing joy: “…that deep knowing of oneself and the reality of my connections with all others.” For me this transcends happiness and is true even in a prevailing condition of unhappiness.

I had a puritanical upbringing too–life was SERIOUS. The corollary was that happiness is trivial, a little is permissible here and there but happiness is definitely not what it’s all about! Much of what is being said (Mary, Seligman and the Dalai Lama too!) challenges me hugely about this.

As I read people’s contributions I’ve been thinking about the Buddha’s formulation of the flipside of the question we are considering. My interpretation of the Four Noble Truths, which Deb’s phrase captures:

“Suffering is a fact. It has a cause–the separation of self and other. It also has a cure–release from separate self. There is a path to this (right action, right meditation, etc.)”

After all that has been said, happiness for me is not a goal but a by-product of release from separate self–I’m not sure it’s the most important or even an essential by-product.

Reading or listening to the politics and the whole catalogue of suffering round the world, as I do obsessively every morning, ain’t happy but it sure is connecting and often brings me to tears.

32 Mary Jaksch February 10, 2008 at 11:10 am

@ Arthur
Thank you for your thoughtful contribution, Arthur.

One line that particularly caught my eye is that you’re not sure whether happiness is ‘the most important or even an essential by-product’ of the release from the separate self. That stance may well be coloured by your puritanical upbringing.
So, let me ask you this:

I know that you’ve worked with unhappy people over many years. When faced with someone else’s unhappiness, do you also fee that it isn’t essential that they become happier?

In my work as a Zen teacher I come across many people who are unhappy. It often seems to me that their ingrained unhappiness is blocking the light of insight. What I mean is that even if something were to open for them, they would not believe it, or would not be open to joy, awe, and gratitude.

When I’m with someone who is habitually unhappy, I feel a surge of emotion. I so want them to find more joy so that they can unfold their true potential in the many avenues of life.

On another note, I’ve just spent a happy morning researching stuff for the next installments of this series and I am amazed and excited by what I have found to share with you all. Oh my!

I am pursuing some fascinating questions, such as

-Are there principles of happiness? If so, what are they?
- Does freedom (i.e. picking and choosing) make us happier?
- What’s the difference between our actual moments of experience and how we rate them later?
-Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy?

I feel like a fox-terrier digging up a mole with delight: tail wagging!

33 Di February 10, 2008 at 5:57 pm

Happiness for me can be divided into 2 types – how I am feeling now in this moment about what is happening right now or has happened or will happen, and how I feel in general about how my life is.

I think the first is emotionally based whilst the 2nd is perhaps a quality. I can be having a shit of a day or feel devasted and profoundly sad cos my friends 48yr old husband has died suddenly on the golf course, but I still feel an underlying sense of happiness sitting quietly in the background.

I don’t think this is joy as described by Deb as I don’t feel the connectedness or that deep knowing of myself – that is still to develop.

Perhaps its faith, but in what? Even when I was stuck in deep depression a number of years back I knew that one day, somehow all would be well. It didn’t really make the depression any easier to live with but it did mean the thought of suicide was never entertained for too long and it kept me looking for ways to move thru it.

I do have a belief that there is a force within the universe towards life ie all life as opposed to me, or you or the daddylonglegs climbing up my wall in particular, so in the scheme of things I don’t feel that I as an individual am all that important. On a day-to -day level however I have as big an ego as anyone else.

I think it is this belief in the force towards life that underpins the big state of happiness for me – I feel a confidence – all will unfold however it will unfold and when the world stumbles and should we wipe ourselves from existence, another life form somewhere will evolve – there is continuance even in death. On a daily level wiping ourselves from existence doesn’t excite me too much, however.

I’m not a fatalist – I do think we have the power to influence what happens but I think often we don’t have the right answers cos there’s just too much ego.

I’m wondering if this faith in the bigger picture keeps me from not apreciating my life, this life, to the full..hmmm…

34 Mary Jaksch February 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm

@Di
Thank you for your beautiful and rich post, Di.
It’s moving to read about your journey through – and beyond – depression. Thank you for sharing this with us.

35 Arthur February 10, 2008 at 9:08 pm

@ Mary

That’s a good question: “When you are faced with someone’s unhappiness, don’t you think it is essential for them to become happier?” My answer is yes, but not a straighforward yes.

Depressed people I’ve counselled are trapped in a feeling that “everything exists but nothing has value.” Their flatness comes from a lack of interest and energy as well as a lack of pleasure or joy. Their only variation from this emotional flatness tends to be downwards, in the form of self-attack, self-disgust, shame, fear/anxiety/panic and deep cynicism about the value of anything or anyone.

Somehow “happiness” seems too watery and woolly a thing to counter such a loss of value, loss of interest and corrosive cynicism. I’ve seen people recover a sense of value and worth in their own life and in their relationships long before they could desribe themselves as happy.

Yes, happiness matters, but to recover from depression or unhappiness there needs to be a revival of interest, energy and a sense of value, as well as learning to take pleasure again in being in the body (eating, resting, walking, bathing), in nature and in the company of others.

So I can’t give a straightforward yes. A capacity to love and care, to feel connected, to feel vividly alive and to feel for the pain, cruelty and injustice in the world still seem to me more important than happiness.

36 Shira @ ChangePerPost February 12, 2008 at 6:45 am

Thanks for the wonderful article – it has been CPP’d!

37 Mary Jaksch February 12, 2008 at 6:59 am

@Shira
Thank you!

38 Arne February 14, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I don’t worry too much about happiness. Sometimes happiness happens, sometimes not. Sometimes sadness happens, sometimes not, sometimes all sorts of things happen, sometimes not. So what. Have to go, the kettle is boiling.

39 sam davenson August 11, 2010 at 2:03 am

@Arne,

I love that.

40 Acai Berry August 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Great information! Thanks for writing this. It is an honor to participate in the discussion.

41 Karen Chaffee March 10, 2009 at 7:02 am

What a good series you’ve started. I see happiness as more a balance in life rather than a constant. Happiness, like pain, comes and goes in moments. The ideal is that the happy moments out-weigh the painful.

Karen

42 BobbyWhite March 12, 2009 at 4:15 am

Delay is the antidote for anger.

43 Trent M. October 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Wow. This is only the first installment of an article series yet is full of information, wisdom, and insight.
Not only that but the discussion is very rich also.
Being depressed as many years as I have, IDK if I even know what true happiness is.
But in the past days of discovering your blog, I’ve been feeling different, in a good way.
Maybe I’m feeling the effects of taking the first steps to a happy and fulfilling life?
Thank you, Ms. Jaksch. <3

44 Gayle Pescud December 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for your site and all this fantastic work.

“I do have a belief that there is a force within the universe towards life ie all life as opposed to me, or you or the daddylonglegs climbing up my wall in particular, so in the scheme of things I don’t feel that I as an individual am all that important. On a day-to -day level however I have as big an ego as anyone else.”

Boy do I agree. And thank you again. I have geckoes on the wall instead :)

45 radiology March 8, 2010 at 2:00 am

Sometimes happiness happens, sometimes not. Sometimes sadness happens, sometimes not, sometimes all sorts of things happen, sometimes not. Somehow “happiness” seems too watery and woolly a thing to counter such a loss of value, loss of interest and corrosive cynicism. I’ve seen people recover a sense of value and worth in their own life and in their relationships long before they could desribe themselves as happy.

While earning a degree in clinical nutrition students study human nutrition, nutrient metabolism, the role of foods and nutrition in health promotion and disease prevention, planning and directing hospital food service programs, nutrition as a treatment regime, diet and nutrition analysis and planning, supervision of food storage and preparation, client education, special diets, and professional standards and regulations. Students can also take such courses as pharmacology, body composition and disease prevention.

46 Alisa April 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I feel joy is more a pleasure we get from our senses – tasty food, great book or movie, a laugh with a friend e t.c. It is more like ‘at this particular moment I feel joy’
Happiness is completely another layer which may not come from pleasing our senses. It is something within, our attitude, the structure of inner system.
You can feel joy one moment and lose it the next, but if you are happy within external conditions and their change matter less to that state.
What’s more I read from some Zen principles: sometimes we even need to deprive ourselves of instant joy to find happiness within

47 Christopher Kane April 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm

A little off the subject maybe, but a request for people to consider the ethics of purchasing things like designer clothes. Do try and consider, for example, the things the product is made from, the human rights of the factories where they’re manufactured and the ethics of retailers. And endeavour to share rather than discarding. Thanks!!!!

48 jared January 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

This is a great look at happiness from a more holistic view.

As I read through the list I was thinking… “OK, that’s good, but if that’s the only source of my happiness I’m in trouble or ill equipped to deal with certain stages of life.” Although then I re-read the article and realized these were all three important strands for a more holistic view. Very nice.

This is a great article because I can completely relate to have only 1 or two of these strands in certain periods in my life. External fulfillment or a “mission” based on my perceived strengths. But not until I truly surrendered to myself and started over, learning to become emotionally connected to self did I experience a completely different level of happiness. To love, receive love, all those cliche’ things, are so real and amazing.

One interesting study is the Grant Longitudinal study. A good story about it on the Atlantic Magazine in the article “What Makes us Happy?”
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/06/what-makes-us-happy/7439/

In a nutshell, “Love, full stop.”
jared´s last blog post ..HTBH Podcast 002 – How to Be Happy Dating

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