Despite being a new field, it has been a subject of interest to many scholars. Positive psychology has been defined differently by various scholars and institutions. Since the traditional psychology focused more on other issues in human life that have nothing to do with happiness such as mental illness, positive psychology is regarded as a departure of the focus on dysfunctional aspects of humans. The emphasis in positive psychology is on how ordinary people can become happier and derive a sense of fulfilment. The field of positive psychology is broad. In this paper, I will focus on the science of happiness, and the factors that contribute to people's happiness. I think that it is true that traditional psychology focused a lot on the negative aspects of human life. Additionally, I also believe that positive psychology is a broad topic. Happiness may be defined easily but the factors that influence it may be different among people. That is, not all people experience happiness in the same way. In this paper, I will focus on two approaches: hedonic and eudaimonic. Hedonic approach regards happiness as a product of one's personal experience. The eudaimonic approach is based on the view that an individual's happiness is a product factor outside the individual. The highest degree of well-being occur when there is both hedonic and eudaimonic pathways in one's life (Henderson & Knight, 2012).
Happiness and Well-Being
The definition of happiness and well-being has been characterized by complexities and controversies. Whereas many fields have defined happiness and well-being, this section is going to be concerned with the field of psychology and economics. There is no clear definition of happiness and well-being since both are subject to the perceptions of the individual trying to define it.The concept of subjective well-being is concerned with is not only about internal factors that affect people's lives, but also external factors.
Besides the psychological approach, there is also an economic perspective on happiness and well-being. Some economists contend that happiness is not only concerned with individual pursuit but rather it is strongly influenced by the nature of the societies an individual lives in. While relating to the concepts of economics, some economists attempted to establish a link between concepts of utility and happiness, and the nature of impact macro elements such as inflation, unemployment, and income have on individual satisfaction (Arcidiacono & Di Martino, 2016). Certain factors suggested by economists help promote a good life. The factors include personality and demographic factors, micro-and macroeconomic, and the institutional conditions in an economy and society. This vie is different from the utilitarian perspective.
The utilitarian approach to happiness suggests that the society should also promote the highest level of happiness to the greatest possible number of individuals. These definitions of happiness and well-being have taken different directions. However, no single definition is accurate since it is based on people's subjectivity.
Countries all over the world strive to survive by improving the economic situation of their citizens such as creating wealth, ensuring there is employment, houses, roads, and so forth. Poor citizens are not happy, and they can easily drive out topple a government even if it is a dictatorial one. There have been investigations to establish the links between subjective well-being (SWB) and other factors in life such as money and income. Research has demonstrated that money and income have a positive impact on SWB especially if it means avoiding poverty (Diener &Biswas-Diener, 2000). It has also been found that high levels of SWB may increase one's chances of earning a higher income. However, while income and money increase SWB, it plays a role if the motivation is to avoid poverty. According to Diener and Oishi (2000), when a country prioritizes the creation of wealth for its citizen, it shows that SWB is associated with happiness.
SWB has been defined as the way individuals experience and evaluate their lives as well as specific domains, and also activities in their lives (Stone & Mackie, 2013). Based on this definition, subjective well-being (SWB) falls under the hedonic approach to happiness. Perceived stress, satisfaction with life, and affective quality of life are three subjective measures used to measure well-being (Campbell, 1976). Subjective happiness scale has been developed to help in determining an individual's happiness (Lyubomirksy & Lepper, 1999). Additionally, there is a satisfaction with life scale which measures an individual's level of satisfaction with life (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). Hedonic approach is anchored on the premise that human happiness is about maximizing pleasure while minimizing pain (David, Boniwel, & Ayers, 2013). Many psychologists who are associated with this approach contend that wellness is based on the attainment of pleasure and avoidance of pain. The reason why it is called SWB is due to the subjective nature of the notions of pleasant emotions or even absence of pleasant emotions, and the idea that overall life is satisfying.
I differ with this perspective of where happiness is defined in the context of subjective appraisals of the life experiences that are taking place currently. The hedonic approach seems to assert that the definition stands no matter the circumstances. It does not consider the importance of identifying activities that are expected to contribute to wellbeing. In my view, the hedonic approach does not identify the universal factors that are expected to enhance or reduce happiness.
Researchers interested in SWB have been studying the consequences of well-being. Two of the theories that have been postulated include adaptation and discrepancy theories. Research in the measurements of the three types of comparison showed that there are substantial differences in not only happiness but also satisfaction measures (Brown, Kasser, Ryan, Linley, & Orzech, 2009). The hedonic concept of adaptation is a process where people revert to their baseline level of happiness when there is a change in circumstances in their lives. In the context of SWB, hedonic adaptation refers to a situation where people can adapt to almost every life event, and that their levels of happiness levels go up and down within a biologically determined set point which hardly changes (Lucas, 2007).
While feeling of pleasure is good, there are negative impacts. People who get used to pleasure only will tend to focus on those things that bring pleasure while avoiding those that lead to pain (Bishop, 2016). When there is unexpected turn of events from god to bad, a person may be strongly affected. Not all situations that arouse pleasure are good. Getting used to good feelings may force one to engage in dangerous activities such as drug abuse.
Eudaimonic Approach to Happiness
Eudaimonia was a notion coined by Aristotle which meant well-being. Eudaimonia is derived from the Greek words eu that means "the good life" and daimon - "spirit." (Boniwell,, 2018) The words describe the process of a life characterized by the realization of potentials, virtues, and contemplation. The eudemonic approach has been viewed as the opposite of the hedonic approach to happiness. Eudaimonism has been described as an ethical philosophy which emphasizes living in a manner that stresses human excellence. In the field of psychology, scholars who support this approach postulate that full functioning is an objective condition which incorporates living a life that is consistent with the individual's daimon, or true nature, and is experienced subjectively as individual expressiveness. Self-determination theory posits that happiness is associated with the fulfilment in the areas of competence and autonomy (Counselling Connection, 2018). That is a challenge that is at par with the skills needed to solve it. Psychological well-being in eudaimonic approach is achieved when one experiences a state of feeling integrated, feeling elevated, personal expressiveness, feeling accomplished, feeling engagement, and so forth (Huta, 2015).
The theory of eudaimonic approach to happiness is relevant in understanding human excellence. From my experience, I have encountered people who truly live a life that is consistent with their true nature. Personally, I also feel happy to live a life that is truly natural. That is a life which gives me a chance to experience life purpose, growth, and also challenges. I have encountered people who aspire to live a life where their happiness is associated with their fulfilment in the areas of competence and autonomy. Those people gain happiness through life purpose and higher level meaning. To them, happiness does not come as a result of pursuing pleasure but by the development of their individual strengths and virtues which are linked to the concepts of psychology.
In his "Authentic Happiness" theory, it is pointed out that individuals can feel happiness due to various types of experiences such as a pleasant life, engaged life, and meaningful life (Learning theories, 2018). He explained that the flow defines the engaged life. Pleasant life involves having feelings of positive emotions intuitively. Engaged life involves experiencing feelings of flow. The act of total losing of oneself in an activity is referred to as "flow." A meaningful life is when an individual achieves a goal beyond oneself such as family, politics, and religion.
Character strengths and values are considered to be the major building blocks for well-being, happiness, and flow. The six universal values include justice, transcendence, wisdom, temperance, humanity, and courage. Each of the four virtues is said to be composed of four character strengths. In this case, strength is regarded as something that one is competent at and enjoys being involved in. Unlike talents, strengths are said to enhance efforts and are developed all along one's life. When individuals identify their strengths and utilize them for something they love to do, they will feel empowered. The best activities that can make people feel empowered are those which stimulate feelings or experiences of flow.
In a situation where individuals engage in any activities which they have strengths or competence in, the can easily get completely lost in the activities. Since they get completely absorbed in the activities they get engaged in, they lose track of time. They are so absorbed in what they do that they cannot even think. However, flow occurs under certain circumstances. The individual who wishes to experience flow has to be doing something using major strengths or areas of competence. The second condition is the presence of a challenge. However, the challenge need not be big. It has been found that activities that create flow are the ones that have feedback and also those with clear goals. Flow not only generate inner motivation but it also acts an intrinsic reward.
Character strengths are virtues that are closely associated with good life, and they include justice, humanity, transcendence, temperance, wisdom, and courage. According to Hirschorn (2018), measurement of the character using VIA is accomplished through a self-report questionnaire which comprises 240 items that measure the degree to which a person endorses each of the six strengths. Character strengths can be applied in many areas including education, workplace, religion, and counselling. In counselling, one may need a lot of wisdom to help the client, while in the workplace, working as a nurse or a doctor requires one with a high de...
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