A new way of thinking about happiness!

imagesWhat’s your happiness type?

This article was posted on CNN a couple weeks ago and several other media outlets that talks about a study UCLA did where they described 2 types of happiness. They discuss these two types of happiness as if they are mutually exclusive, but I would argue that most people experience both types, but to differing degrees. Read it for yourself though and let me know your thoughts!

Here is a short excerpt:

The experts divide well-being into two different types: hedonic and eudaimonic. These are fancy words to describe happiness that comes from two different sources.

Hedonic well-being comes from an experience a person seeks out that gives them pleasure. As study co-author Steve Cole describes it, it’s “having lots of positive experiences that come from, say, eating great food or smelling beautiful flowers.”

Eudaimonic well-being is a kind of happiness that comes not from consuming something but from a sustained effort at working toward something bigger than you. In other words, it’s working toward a sense of meaning in your life or contributing to some kind of cause. Think of the happiness you see on the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa’s face.

While the two kinds of happiness are conceptually different, they can and do influence each other, so it has been hard for scientists to measure which kind has had a greater positive influence on someone’s physical or psychological well-being.

What were your thoughts when reading this? Do you think that they are separate or overlapping? My first thought about hedonic well-being was the hedonic treadmill and how we’re always looking for positive experiences and seeking pleasure and it always being this endless cycle or trying to find happiness. The article even alludes to this when it says:

Hedonic well-being is dependent on your taking self-involved action to constantly feed this positive emotion machine

This compared to Eudaimonic well-being, which sounds like something from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) framework (see my previous post on ACT). It reminds me of value-driven and doing something because that is what you value and there is an over-arching goal that is bigger than yourself. It could be that you value being a charitable person so you take actions aligned with that and create a network to reflect those values. It could be that you value assertiveness and honesty so you make conscious choices aligned with those values. In the context of this article though, it’s finding value in connection (no pun intended), creating a support network, and working towards a greater good that doesn’t just involve yourself but those closest to you.

Rubin Khoddam, PhD Clinical Psychology student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection

For the full article click here.

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Categories: Articles, Positive Psychology

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8 replies


  1. Don’t get lost in the monotony of your life | Psych Connection
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