What Is Your Definition of Happiness?
Ben-Shahar: Happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning. A happy person enjoys positive emotions while perceiving her life as purposeful. The definition does not pertain to a single moment, but to a generalized aggregate of one’s experiences: A person can endure emotional pain at times and still be happy overall. To lead a happy life, we need to experience, as much as possible, the combination of both meaning and pleasure. if I find my work meaningful but not pleasurable, I will not be happy doing it and will ultimately burn out If I find what I do pleasurable but it has little meaning for me, I will quickly lose interest.
The Four Archetypes
Hedonism: Gaining present benefit at the expense of future detriment Hedonists suffer from the “floating moment fallacy” — incorrectly believing that happiness can be sustained by an ongoing experience of momentary pleasures detached from future purpose
Rat Race: Subordinating the present to the future (suffering now for anticipated future gain). Rat Racers suffer from the “arrival fallacy” – falsely believing that reaching a certain destination leads to sustained happiness.
Nihilism: Losing the lust for life, neither enjoying the moment nor having a, sense of future purpose. Nihilist suffers from misreading reality, believing that no matter what they do, they will not attain happiness.
Al Ben-Shahar taught the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”—with a total of over 1,400 students.
Tal consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporations, Fortune 500 companies