Why the term 'happiness' is so elusive

Postdate: 15 December 2017

Looking at the figures of Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch are happy people. Even so, the number of self-help books and Apps about happiness has risen significantly. It seems as if 'becoming happy' is equal to a successful, grand, and exciting life. So aiming for ultimate happiness is the new moral, but what does it actually mean?

How can I become happy?
Happiness is labelled as an emotion, which means that its meaning is different for everyone. It can be related to work, social contacts, and a good health. Most of us define happiness as a satisfying, comfortable, and often enjoyable life with little stress. It goes without saying that happy people are healthier, more motivated and more productive. Society emphasises that we all have to become 100% happy, get everything out of life, and that we certainly must not let opportunities pass us by. In addition to all this, you have to take control of your life as an individual. In short, happiness comes with a hefty price tag.

Living a meaningful life
Over the recent years, we more and more see a counter movement. Instead of talking about happiness, people talk about a sense of meaning. Author and psychologist Emily Esfahani Smith describes this in her book The Power of Meaning. Her vision is that chasing happiness only makes people unhappier, purely because the pressure to happy is too great. First of all, you have to make sure that your life has meaning. To do this, she uses four pillars:

- Having a purpose
- Social contacts
- Add a story to your life
- Having transcendent experiences

Transcendent experiences can be moments of being moved and emotional and letting your ego for what it is, such as listening to beautiful music and enjoying the sunrise. Do you want to give more meaning to your work? Then be sure to look at its goal. Most companies offer a service or product that provides for a certain need or solves a certain problem. In what way do you contribute to this personally?

Happiness is well-being
Drs. Jessy Brouwers describes social well-being, psychological well-being, and emotional well-being as a barometer for mental health and, therefore, happiness. This is because you can measure the fitness of your mind in various ways. To what extent can you deal with setbacks and stress, pursue good resolutions, be in control, and enjoy whatever comes your way. Positive thoughts contribute to this, which will ultimately lead to a positive influence on your well-being. This is not yet linked to physical health.

So we cannot assign a specific meaning to happiness. The basic thing is that there are several side tracks which will ultimately lead to what you describe as happiness. Contributing to a better world, being balanced and having sufficient good people around you: it can all provide you with a meaningful life and an optimal mental fitness. This will bear fruit in the workplace.

emotion     happiness     meaning     meaningful life     well-being    

Back to the overview

Share this blog:


Add Comment