What is Happiness?
What is happiness? Definitions vary, but by becoming more self-aware you can make a plan for happiness that's tailored just to you.
So, what do you mean when you say happiness? Scientists tell you it’s a combination of chemicals and hormones in the brain that produce positive feelings.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky (in her book The How of Happiness) defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.”
Dictionary.com says it's “the quality or state of being happy.” (Thanks, dictionary.com…that was helpful.)
My 12-year-old stepson says happiness is getting pizza for dinner or catching a huge toad (and my happiness is that toad staying outside).
What about you? Take a minute and then finish these sentences out loud:
“For me, happiness is ________________.”
“For me, I’m happiest when _________________.”
Happiness is also called "well-being" in research circles. One of the best (and most useful—sorry Dictionary.com) definitions for happiness is Seligman’s PERMA model. PERMA breaks down into:
- Positive Emotion: Basically being optimistic. Science says 50% of this is genetic (you’re born with it – just like your Myers-Briggs preferences), 10% is life circumstance and 40% is your choice.
- Engagement: Any time you're doing activities that make you happy.
- Relationships: One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is not keeping better relationships. Whether you prefer Introversion or Extraversion, social connections are essential to happiness.
- Meaning: This is the part people leave out in their own definitions of happiness. It’s about purpose and the “why” of life. Also related to the Finding your Passion blog. (Note: Meaning and Accomplishments are two areas we’ve found distinct differences in Myers-Briggs types and what impacts their happiness).
- Accomplishments – What goals did you achieve? What are your ambitions? Check out the blog on Inspiration and Motivations parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 for more on this.
Some of the above are probably more important to you than others. Why?
Because you are an individual, similar to other individuals in some ways and different in some ways (like your Myers-Briggs type).
Being aware of your own state and who you are compared to others is called self-awareness. And happiness and self-awareness are good friends. You're able to make decisions and change habits that make you happier when you're more self-aware.
And September is National Self-Awareness Month! To celebrate our favorite month of the year, we’re pulling together a blog series for you on the connections between happiness, self-awareness, Myers-Briggs type (of course) and more. We'll share our research on what makes each Myers-Briggs type happy at work and how that differs by job and geography.
You can also find more articles on our Facebook page and as well as memes, illustrations, and Myers-Briggs tips on our Instagram.