Who doesn’t want to be happy? It seems we all do, but modern life makes this state of being increasingly elusive. In addition to the general stress we endure day in and out, our methods for attaining happiness are often misguided. Psychologists talk about two kinds of happiness – hedonia and eudaimonia. Understanding these can shed great insight on gaining true happiness.
Hedonia is derived from things, sensory pleasure, and other external stimuli that arouse happiness – think about furnishing your home with beautiful items, shopping for the latest fashions, dining in a favorite restaurant, or taking a luxury vacation. While these experiences are valuable and can be an important part of a person’s wellbeing, the impact is fleeting. Over time, you’ll need a bigger and bigger stimulus to achieve the same happy feeling. The other issue is that hedonia is reliant on situations out of your control. For instance, if you can’t afford to do a particular happiness-inducing activity that you desire, then your hopes of bliss are shattered.
On the other hand, eudaimonia is more about being true to your inner self and creating a deeper kind of happiness. It’s about being content, forging bonds with others, and having a purpose in life. Importantly, eudaimonia is possible even when life gets rough – making it a sustainable kind of happiness over the long haul. This is the kind of happiness that positive psychologists encourage us to cultivate. In addition, positive psychology pinpoints eight traits of truly happy people. Happy people:
- Have strong relationships. They work on and enjoy lasting bonds with family and friends.
- Express gratitude. They do this openly and point out the positive.
- Help others and show compassion. This happens easily, without deliberation.
- Are optimistic. They see the positive possibilities in uncertainty.
- Engage in the present. They savor the moment and all life’s small pleasures.
- Are active. They get out and do physical things to exercise their bodies.
- Have goals and values. Most positive people are committed to these and stand by them.
- Are resilient. They are able to take life’s crises and tragedies in stride and come out on top.
That’s a lot to aspire to in quick order, but breaking it down into individual steps and working through each one slowly can reap positive results. How will you start on the road to greater happiness? Choose one of the traits above today, and embark on a new journey!
Tags: happiness, happy