Attachment for PSY 220 check point assignment

18 Chapter 2 • The Meaning and Measure of Happiness
chief goal of life is the pursuit of happiness and
pleasure. Within psychology, this view of well-being
is expressed in the study of SWB (Diener, 1984;
Diener et al., 1999). Subjective well-being takes a
broad view of happiness, beyond the pursuit of
short-term or physical pleasures defining a narrow
hedonism. Subjective well-being is defined as life
satisfaction, the presence of positive affect, and a relative
absence of negative affect. Together, the three
components are often referred to as happiness.
Research based on the SWB model has burgeoned in
the last 5 years (Ryan & Deci, 2001). Studies have
delineated a variety of personality characteristics and
life experiences that help answer questions about
who is happy and what makes people happy. A
major portion of this book is devoted to reviewing
the research and theory on SWB.
Eudaimonic Happiness
Is happiness enough for a good life? Would you be
content and satisfied if you were happy and nothing
else? Consider a hypothetical example suggested by
Seligman (2002a). What if you could be hooked to
an “experience machine” that would keep you in a
constant state of cheerful happiness, or whatever
positive emotion you desired, no matter what happened
in your life. Fitting the hedonic view, you
would experience an abundance of happiness all
the time. Would you choose to be hooked up? We
might like it for awhile, but to experience only one
of our many emotions, and to have the same cheerful
reaction to the diversity of life events and challenges
might actually impoverish the experience of
life. And some of what we would lose might be
extremely valuable. For example, negative emotions
like fear help us make choices that avoid threats to
our well-being. Without fear and other negative
emotions we might make very bad choices. We’d be
happy, but we might not live very long. Seligman
(2002a) argues that we would likely also reject the
experience machine because we want to feel we are
entitled to our positive emotions, and to believe
they reflect our “real” positive qualities and behaviors.
Pleasure, disconnected from reality, does not
affirm or express our identity as individuals.
Above all, most of us would probably reject
the experience machine because we believe that
there is more to life than happiness and subjective
pleasure. Or as Seligman (2002a) describes it, there
is a deeper and more “authentic happiness.” Much
of classical Greek philosophy was concerned with
these deeper meanings of happiness and the good
life. Waterman (1990, 1993) describes two psychological
views of happiness distilled from classical
philosophy. Hedonic conceptions of happiness, discussed
above, define happiness as the enjoyment of
life and its pleasures. The hedonic view captures a
major element of what we mean by happiness in
everyday terms: We enjoy life; we are satisfied with
how our lives are going; and good events outnumber
bad events.
In contrast, eudaimonic conceptions of happiness,
given fullest expression in the writings of
Aristotle, define happiness as self-realization, meaning
the expression and fulfillment of inner potentials.
From this perspective, the good life results from living
in accordance with your daimon (in other words,
your true self). That is, happiness results from striving
toward self-actualization—a process in which our talents,
needs, and deeply held values direct the way we
conduct our lives. “Eudaimonia” (or happiness) results
from realization of our potentials. We are happiest
when we follow and achieve our goals and develop
our unique potentials. Eudaimonic happiness has
much in common with humanistic psychology’s
emphases on the concepts of self-actualization
(Maslow, 1968) and the fully functioning person
(Rogers, 1961) as criteria for healthy development and
optimal functioning.
What kinds of experiences lead to eudaimonic
happiness? Waterman (1993) argued that eudaimonic
happiness results from experiences of personal
expressiveness. Such experiences occur when
we are fully engaged in life activities that fit and
express our deeply held values and our sense of
who we are. Under these circumstances we experience
a feeling of fulfillment, of meaningfulness, of
being intensely alive—a feeling that this is who we
really are and who we were meant to be.
At this point, you might ask whether hedonic
and eudaimonic views of happiness are very different.
Aren’t activities that bring us pleasure also generally
the ones that are meaningful because they express our
talents and values? Waterman believes that there are
many more activities that produce hedonic enjoyment
than activities that provide eudaimonic happiness
based on personal expression. Everything from alcohol
consumption and eating chocolate, to a warm
bath can bring us pleasure, but there are fewer activities
that engage significant aspects of our identity and
give a deeper meaning to our lives.