What is Luck ?
The word happiness is used in many different ways in German. We use it when we have won the lottery, for a form of random luck. We use it when we feel happy for a short time in beautiful moments and when we are happy with our life in the long term. These different forms of happiness are more clearly differentiated in English. There is luck - the random luck, pleasure - happiness in moments of joy and happiness - satisfaction with life or single life. In this article we refer to happiness in the sense of happiness and pleasure .
What does happiness actually bring?
But why should we deal with happiness at all? Because as you will read below, it is not that trivial to be happy and there are different approaches to what actually makes us happy. Why should you put so much effort into it just to be happy? There are actually some good reasons to do something for your luck 1 :
- Happy people live longer.
- They are socially competent, more cooperative, more popular and more attractive to others.
- They have a stronger immune system, are less likely to get sick and recover faster.
- Happy people stay mentally fit longer and suffer less from neurodegenerative diseases.
- They are more powerful, more generous, more flexible and more creative.
- Happy people are more successful in their jobs, but also in their social relationships.
- They are better able to deal with setbacks and crises, are more resilient and more resilient.
So it is worth taking a closer look at the topic.
The wisdom of Aristotle
The consideration of happiness goes back to ancient times. Aristotle dealt with hedonism, the pleasant life as the highest goal, and Eudaimonia, the virtuous and valuable life, thousands of years ago. Hedonic happiness is aimed at pleasant feelings and specific results, with the absence of pain at the same time.
The source of this feel-good happiness often lies in the outside, such as a bubble bath, a fragrant cup of coffee, the beautiful view of the sunset, a loving gesture by the partner or the view of the account balance after a raise. Opposed to this is the Eudaimonian happiness, which is connected with the content of our life.
It arises when we can do what is valuable to us and strive for our personal values and goals. This happiness in values is experienced, for example, in the form of a sense of life, vitality, solidarity or gratitude. It is also associated with pleasant feelings, but unpleasant feelings can also be experienced temporarily.
So there can be moments in life when you experience a lot of eudaimonic happiness but little hedonic happiness. Because the consistent focus on a really important goal can also mean the temporary abandonment of leisure time and pleasure. If you want to fight hunger locally in Africa, you will most likely have to do without your soft bed, warm shower and some other western amenities for a while.
And yet this process results in personal satisfaction, because one's own life is experienced as valuable and meaningful. Happiness therefore does not only include moments of happiness full of enjoyment, pleasure and pleasant feelings. It is at least as important to make your life meaningful and valuable. Because this results in personal fulfillment and satisfaction, which is more profound and long-term than the happiness of moments of happiness.
Happiness in psychology
Ed Diener, leading researcher in the field of happiness research, took up Aristotle's centuries-old approach in his concept of subjective well-being. He defines happiness as subjective well-being and divides it into two components 2 :
- affective well-being, and
- cognitive well-being
Affective well-being is described by the relationship between positive and negative emotions (emotional component). Cognitive well-being denotes personal satisfaction with one's own living conditions (rational component). As a result, well-being increases through experiencing more positive emotions and through increased satisfaction with your own life. And you can start at both points.
What makes us happy
With his model of subjective well-being, Diener has established happiness as a process with emotional components and a cognitive evaluation. Carol Ryff, an American psychologist, used her model of psychological well-being to work out why people are happy with their lives or not. In doing so, it builds on the concepts of positive psychological functioning , which, translated into German, means “mental performance”. In this context, performance is not understood in the sense of “functioning”, but rather as the ability to love, work, enjoy and develop potential. Ryff's aspects of psychological well-being are 3 :
- Self-acceptance (a positive attitude towards oneself),
- Relationships (trustful bonds),
- Autonomy (self-determination, orientation on own values),
- Coping with life (self-efficacy and active shaping of one's own living conditions),
- Meaning and goals in life (alignment with larger goals and one's own meaning in life),
- Personal growth (openness and continuous development).
The concept of psychological well-being is strongly based on the Eudaimonian concept of happiness and breaks down possible dimensions of life satisfaction according to servants.
As if that weren't enough, Martin Seligman, who is considered the founder of positive psychology, introduced another concept for well-being in 2005: PCRMA . With PCRMA he defines five factors for well-being 4 :
- Positive emotions,
- Commitment (working in tasks),
- Relationships (positive relationships),
- Meaning (meaning life) and
- Accomplishment (target achievement & effectiveness).
Originally, his concept comprised only three factors: meaning, commitment and positive emotions. In the expanded form with five factors, he made the model well known outside of academic psychology. In the meantime, another part of the model has been added: vitality (PCRMA-V). Unlike Ryff, Seligman explicitly combines the approaches of hedonic and Eudaimonic happiness in his model. Positive emotions are aimed at hedonism. Commitment - the use of one's own strengths and experience of flow, meaning - the experience of meaningfulness and completion - the achievement of personally important goals are an important basis for eudaimonic happiness.
Flourishing - goal of positive psychology
In addition to his PCRMA model, Seligman has also popularized the term flourishing . This term was first introduced by Corey Keyes, an American sociologist and psychologist. Translated into German flourish means flourish or flourish. In psychology, it is understood as a successful psychological development and thus includes subjective well-being, mental performance and the process of personal growth. It is closely related to the term fully functioning person according to Carl Rogers. According to Keyes, flourishing 5 includes :
- Subjective well-being (after servant),
- psychological well-being (according to Ryff)
- as well as an additional aspect - functional social well-being (which includes social acceptance, social growth, social cohesion and integration).
Increasing flourishing in the world is one of the central goals of positive psychology . Which also makes it clear that positive psychology is more than just “happyology” or positive thinking. It is about knowledge of your own strengths, values and your personal meaning in life, a deeper development and the shaping of your own life.
If you look at the different models for well-being, there are some differences but also many parallels. Personal well-being seems to go beyond “feeling good”. Our social relationships, engaging for something bigger, striving for goals, experiencing meaning and dealing with ourselves are also central aspects. That is why Positive Psychology is dedicated to all of these topics. And at the same time, well-being and flourishing always remain something individual. So take a moment and consider:
- What contributes to your well-being?
- What is important for you in order to develop your best?
- What is the relationship between your positive and negative emotions?
- What about your social network? Are you satisfied with the quantity and quality of your relationships?
- Do you know and live your meaning in life? What sense do you make of the tasks and activities with which you spend most of your life?
- What are your main goals? And in which activities do you completely get involved?
- How do you feel about yourself? And how do you deal with yourself?
If you want to invest something in your personal happiness, you have the opportunity by reading more about positive psychology.
- Lyubomirsky, Sonja, Laura King, and Ed Diener. "The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success?" Psychological bulletin 6 (2005): 803.
- Servant, Ed. "Subjective well-being." Psychological bulletin 95.3 (1984): 542.
- Ryff, Carol D. "Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being." Journal of personality and social psychology 6 (1989): 1069.
- Seligman, Martin. How we flourish: the five pillars of personal well-being. Goldmann Verlag, 2015.
- Keyes, Corey. "The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life." Journal of health and social behavior (2002): 207-222.