Happiness is a doing word.
Researchers talk of two kinds of happiness. There’s the happiness that comes and goes. One day I am happy, another day I am sad. Emotions rise, emotions fall. I have good days and tough days. This is what we think of as the emotion of happiness. We call this kind: Hedonic Happiness – it is a feeling that is transient. But there is another kind of happiness that we may call Flourishing. This is not an emotion of the moment, but the long term sense of being well. We call it Eudaimonic Happiness. This comes from the Greek word Eudaimonia which refers to a state of being contented and of living well, doing the right thing.
Eudaimonia – or flourishing – is not an emotion of the moment. It is a long term state of being well. It implies not just feeling well, but living a balanced life. Living a life that is good in all senses.
Feeling good, or hedonic happiness is about having positive experiences, positive relationships and a positive mindset. Flourishing, or eudaimonic happiness, is about developing oneself. Setting and achieving goals, making a difference to other people’s lives.
They are both active concepts. They both arise from the decision to engage positively with our circumstances. The one from moment by moment actions, the other from ongoing commitments.
How happy are you? Next Wednesday is 'World Mental Health Day'. A day to take stock of oneself, one’s family, one’s workplace, and notice if we are both happy and flourishing at home and at work. Could it be a day when you decided to do something good for your own mental health, your own sense of wellbeing, something that raised your sense of happiness for today, and perhaps also helped you to flourish for the longer term?
What could it be? … a break or space in the day for you? … a shift in a mental attitude from negative to positive? … exercise? … an act of generosity? (yes, doing good to others does good to us too!) … what might you do next Tuesday to boost your happiness and help yourself to flourish?
Reverend Hewitt, Well-Being Coach