How do we define happiness?

What is happiness?

There are two major aspects in the science of happiness, both of which stem from ancient Greek philosophers:

Eudaimonic wellbeing

This is an overarching term for a deep kind of contentment that comes from a sense of self-actualisation, personal growth and meaning. Over two centuries ago Aristotle’s original concept of eudaimonia was about leading a virtuous life and the modern day version of it centres around flourishing and functioning well.

In reality, eudaimonic wellbeing is about using your strengths, having a sense of purpose, positive relationships, doing something good in the world, autonomy and a feeling of competence and confidence in yourself. It is of course a multifaceted concept, but it can be summed up in a simple way: eudaimonic wellbeing is achieved by putting effort into something that has meaning to you but goes beyond the self.

Effort + Meaning = Eudaimonic Wellbeing

Hedonic wellbeing

The clue is in the name! Hedonic wellbeing comes from hedonism and is all about the pursuit of pleasure. It can be seen as the feel-good factor, with all of the fun and frolics to boot. The only focus in hedonic wellbeing is on maximising pleasure and minimising pain. It is generally the better-known version of happiness that’s experienced in the peak moments of enjoyment.

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