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How many kinds of happiness are there?

The Italian word for Happiness, felicità, deriving from felicitas (felice means happy in Italian, from felix -icis), has the root word fe-, meaning abundance, wealth, prosperity, while Happiness is defined as:

– “A state of wellbeing and contentment” (Merriam-Webster);

– “1. The state of feeling or showing pleasure; 2. the state of being satisfied that something is good or right” (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary);

– “A positive state of mind resulting from the satisfaction of one’s desires” (Wikipedia).

“Satisfaction,” “state of mind” and “desire” are subjective factors, be they intellectual/emotional or material, involving psyche-body-spirit-mind, all the components that make up the Uniqueness1 of each person. Positive Psychology2, 3, 4 posits that Happiness is attainable and can be identified with “the good life,” or flourishing: that is, living in accordance with those factors that hold the greatest value in Life and contribute to a well-lived and fulfilling life, leading to the satisfaction of life itself—a balance between Eudaimonia and Hedonia.

What are these two meanings of Happiness and how do they differ?

  • Hedonia (feeling good, the pleasant life), the life of pleasure. This meaning identifies moral good with pleasure, recognized as the human being’s ultimate goal. A hedonist is someone who considers pleasure the main purpose of life. Consumer culture leads us to be like this, raising the bar ever higher: This is why Happiness seems like an unattainable idea. Hedonia is easily accessible and can be very intense, but it is a temporary state and thus a short-term form of happiness.
  • Eudaimonia (living well, the meaningful life), the life of engagement. In Greek, this means “the good Demon”; that is, we are happy when the “good spirit” which is our innermost nature acts within us. Happiness is understood as the fundamental purpose of life through the recognition of our best abilities, exercised in service of something greater than ourselves. Motivation and engagement are part of this approach. Eudaimonia presupposes dedication to personal growth, and for this reason it is a long-term form of happiness.

What is the “right” Happiness and how is it achieved? With a life of pleasure (feeling good) or with a life of engagement (living well)? As in all things, it is essential to find a personal balance between the two approaches to Happiness, so that one does not become an obstacle for the other5.

This is possible, considering that as much as 90% of Happiness is achieved through our perception of the outside world, with the outside world itself affecting only 10%. Cultivating a positive attitude in the present improves brain function, which benefits from the release of Dopamine, the “Motivation Hormone6”. Mind (attitude and behaviors), heart (thoughts and emotions) and body (neurophysiological functions) work together towards feeling good, a peaceful state of mind and the enjoyment of this state, that is, Happiness.

Studies in neuroscience show that only 25% of professional success can be predicted by IQ, while as much as 75% depends on your level of optimism, social support network and ability to consider stress a challenge rather than a threat.

It follows that it is Happiness that leads to “success” (successo in Italian is also the past participle of the verb succedere, to happen) because it helps make your aspirations happen1!

Author: Valentina Reiner

Valentina Reiner is Certified Business Coach (CBC™) by Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC), European Individual Accreditation (EIA) Coach/Mentor at Senior Practitioner Level by European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), Neuromanager Positivo Applicato (NPA®) by Apprendo Academy

Valentina Reiner
Valentina Reiner

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1. “You are not like the others, you are you” (quote) – The Deeping

2. TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work?language=en

3. Positivity and Performance. Hom and Arbuckle (1988)

4. Happiness and Intelligence. Estrada, Isen and Young (1997)

5. https://www.thedeeping.eu/2021/01/22/come-superare-la-resistenza-ai-cambia-menti-e-trovare-il-proprio-equilibrio/

6. https://www.thedeeping.eu/2022/02/16/neurotransmitters-of-wellbeing-how-to-develop-a-good-dose/

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