Happiness is something we have been striving to get all our lives. It is the singular, most common life goal of all humans together. For most of us, happiness is the only thing we want for ourselves, our children, family members, and friends.
Happiness is also incredibly difficult to define. This is because even though it is a common goal for most of us, its meaning is vastly different in all our lives. And since the meaning of happiness is so different for all of us, there are no set ways to find it.
In short, happiness is not a one-size-fits-all emotion. There are multiple ways to define and experience happiness, and understanding these differences can help us achieve a much more peaceful and satisfying life.
The most serious form of differentiation of happiness comes from ancient philosophy. According to this, there are two types of happiness – eudaimonic and hedonic.
Let us dive deeper into these two types of happiness and where they originate from.
Exploring The Types Of Happiness
1. Hedonic Happiness
Promoted by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, hedonic happiness is the exact opposite of suffering. The existence of hedonic happiness meant the absence of any form of pain. The purpose of the hedonic school of thought was to maximize happiness and pleasure and minimize any form of pain.
In modern psychology, hedonic happiness is associated with instant gratification and pleasure. It is the type of happiness you achieve from eating your favorite bowl of ice cream, shopping, or binge-watching your favorite romantic comedies. Hedonic happiness is instant and short-lived.
The hedonic treadmill is a concept that states that people tend to return back to their baseline or regular level of happiness, irrespective of what they do. Therefore, even though pursuing hedonic happiness will give you bouts of high pleasure, their novelty will wear off sooner than later. This leads to a nature of seeking out more highs in order to maintain higher levels of happiness.
2. Eudaimonic Happiness
The second one in the types of happiness is the often less-famous form called eudaimonic happiness. The concept of eudaimonic happiness comes from the fourth century B.C. It finds its origin in Aristotle’s first work Nicomachean Ethics.
According to Aristotle, in order to achieve true happiness, a person must live a life of morals and ethics. He proposed that when people constantly strive to be a better version of themselves, they tend to achieve a higher purpose and greater levels of happiness. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places self-actualization at the top of its hierarchy and follows a eudaimonic perspective of happiness.
Eudaimonic is the healthier one of the types of happiness as it focuses more on finding a higher purpose and meaning in our lives. A study by Henderson and team found that even though hedonic happiness could increase positive happiness in the short term, people who tend to focus on the eudaimonic type find more joy and pleasure and have greater levels of well-being.
To find eudaimonic happiness in your life, here are some tips that can come in handy:
- identify your basic life values and try to align your life with them,
- set small but meaningful goals to provide a sense of structure and order to your life,
- practice mindfulness and gratitude in your life,
- find different opportunities to help people and give back to society, and
- strengthen your relationships with yourself and the people in your life.
Happiness is a multifaceted and complex concept. It takes different forms and meanings for different people. Ancient philosophy defines two types of happiness – hedonic and eudaimonic. While hedonic happiness is associated with instant gratification, the eudaimonic type is more concerned with long-term objectives and values.
Now that you know about the types of happiness, it is time to take you to the next step. Wondering what you can do to achieve true happiness in your life? Read the best tips for a happy and peaceful life here.
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