Twenty-three hundred years ago, Aristotle concluded, Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.
Everyone aspires for happiness but it remains ever elusive. After years of research, the positive psychologists claim to have discovered the elements of authentic happiness and well-being.
The first element is Positive Emotion about the past, present and future. Expressing gratitude, forgiving and forgetting, counting blessings in daily life, having faith, trust, confidence and hope, and being optimistic are some ways to generate positive feelings.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that happiness is not something that happens. It is, in fact, a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. He says, People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any one of us can come to being happy.
The second element of well-being is Engagement or Flow: being one with music, dancing, rock climbing, football, chess, or even work. Its time stopping and self-consciousness is lost during absorbing activity. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity and a total involvement with life.
Viktor Frankl, in his book Mans Search for Meaning, says that happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue as the unintended side-effect of ones personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.
Meaning is the third element of well-being. Human beings want meaning and purpose in life. A meaningful life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self.
John Stuart Mill feels, It is by being fully involved in every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by looking for it directly.
People pursue success, accomplishment, winning, achievement, and mastery for their own sakes. The fourth element of well-being is Accomplishment and an achieving life is a life dedicated to accomplishment.
There is no denying the profound influences that positive relationships or their absence have on well-being. Positive Relationships is the fifth element of well-being.
Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to? If your answer is yes, you will likely live longer than someone whose answer is no. George Vaillant, a Harvard Psychiatrist has discovered this fact.
Martin Seligman, in his new book Flourish, says that well-being is not a thing, like happiness, but a construct. No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it. The way we choose our life is to maximise all five of these elements by deploying our highest strengths to meet the highest challenges that come our way.
Jagat Singh Bisht
Laughter Yoga Teacher & Happiness Coach