Saturday, January 21, 2012

Two Kinds Of Happy

We all want to be happy and many people spend most of their lives trying to feel that way. Yet, sometimes when we try to pursue a goal relentlessly, we can lose sight of what we really wanted.

When is happiness is defined as experiencing pleasure (like good food, movies, television, sports teams wins, etc.) and being in a constant positive state, happiness is rarely achieved. This is known as hedonic well being and is usually found in short term spurts. The pressure to always be happy becomes a psychological burden. The second type of happiness is found when when one is engaged in meaningful, purposeful activity. Known as eudaimonic well being, this type of happiness allows for better health, less cognitive decline in aging, stronger mental health and an overall positive attitude. In fact, a little bit of stress that comes from doing the things you value makes you more resilient, adaptive and strong.

Defining what is meaningful and purposeful varies for each person. If one volunteers for a charity because one feels pressured to do so or is looking for an extrinsic reward, the sense of eudaimonic well being will not be accomplished. Conversely, going to sporting events, eating food you enjoy and going to a movie can bring you eudaimonic well being if done in moderation and as an activity with people you care about. The hard part is finding the balance in attitude. We may not always like what we are doing in the moment, but if we value its purpose and meaning as well as trying to find some joy along the way- we can be happy both ways.

Stay healthy & well,

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