What is happiness and why is it important? (+ definition) (2023)

What is happiness and why is it important? (+ definition) (1)what is happiness

It sounds like a strange question, but is it? Do you know how to define happiness? Do you think happiness is the same for you and for others?

What is the point? Does it make a difference in our life?

In fact, happiness plays a very important role in our lives and it can have a huge impact on the way we live our lives. While researchers have yet to come up with a consensus definition or framework for happiness, we've learned a lot in the last few decades.

This article will dive into the science of happiness, what it really is, and why it matters.

Before we go any further, we thought you might like this.Download our three positive psychology exercises for free. These science-based exercises examine the fundamentals of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, giving you the tools to improve the well-being of your clients, students, or employees.

This article contains:

  • A look at the Oxford English Dictionary definition of happiness
  • What does happiness mean in positive psychology?
  • The psychology behind human happiness
  • 8 examples that describe what a happy life is like
  • Why is happiness so important?
  • 6 videos that explain happiness
  • A message to take away
  • references

a look atOxford English Dictionarydefinition of happiness

First, let's take a look at the definition of happiness so we're all on the same page.Oxford English DictionaryThe definition of "happiness" is simple: "the state of happiness.“

Not exactly what we were looking for, right? Maybe we need to dive a little deeper.Oxford English DictionarySlightly more useful is the definition of "happy": "to feel or show joy or satisfaction.“

That is better! Happiness, then, is the state of feeling or showing joy or satisfaction. From this definition we can extract some important points about happiness:

  1. Happiness is a condition, not a quality; In other words, it is not a permanent and permanent personality trait or trait, but rather a fleeting and mutable condition.
  2. Happiness is equated with the feeling of contentment or contentment, which means that happiness should not be confused with joy, ecstasy, ecstasy, or other more intense feelings.
  3. Happiness can be felt or demonstrated, which means that happiness is not necessarily an internal or external experience, but can be both.

Now we better understand what happiness is, or at least what it is like.Oxford English DictionaryDefine what happiness is. However, this definition is not the ultimate definition of happiness. In fact, the definition of happiness is not a "closed" debate.

(Video) The Definition Of Happiness - Psychology Lecture || Ryan David

What does happiness mean in positive psychology?

What is happiness and why is it important? (+ definition) (2)The meaning of happiness in positive psychology really depends on who you ask.

Happiness is often known by another name.positive psychologySurvey: subjective well-being or SWB.

Some believe that luck is one of the main components of SWB, while others believe that luck is SWB. Regardless, SWB is commonly used in the literature as an abbreviation for luck.

Speaking of literature: SWB references can be found everywhere. A quick Google search for the word "happiness" brings up over 2 million results (as of January 6, 2019). Additionally, a scan of the same term in two of the largest online psychology databases (PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES) returns 19,139 results from academic and other journals, books, dissertations, and more.

Is it difficult to define scientifically?

With so many approaches to happiness, it's no wonder it's a bit difficult to define happiness scientifically; There is certainly disagreement as to what exactly happiness is.

According to researchers Chu Kim-Prieto, Ed Diener, and colleagues (2005), there are three main ways that positive psychology has approached happiness:

  1. happiness as a global assessment of life with all its facets;
  2. happiness as a memory of past emotional experiences;
  3. Happiness as the accumulation of multiple emotional responses over time (Kim-Prieto, Diener, Tamir, Scollon, & Diener, 2005).

Although in general everyone agrees on what happiness is: being satisfied with life, being in a good mood, feelingpositive feelings, feel joy, etc. - Researchers have found it difficult to agree on the degree of happiness.

However, for our purposes in this article, it is sufficient to work from a basic definition that meets theDEOHis definition with that of positive psychologists: Happiness is a state characterized by contentment and general satisfaction with the current situation.

joy x happiness

Given the close connection between pleasure and happiness, you may be wondering how to tell the difference between them. at least theDEOThe definition of happiness describes it as a state of feeling joy!

The association between the two makes sense, and it's common to hear the two words used interchangeably outside of literature; However, when it comes to the science of positive psychology, it's important to distinguish between the two.

Happiness, as we have described above, is a state characterized by feelings of contentment and contentment with one's current life or situation. On the other hand, pleasure is a more visceral and momentary experience. It often refers to the sensory sensations we get from experiences like eating well, getting a massage, a compliment, or sex.

LuckAlthough it is not a permanent state, it is a more stable state than pleasure. Happiness often lasts more than a few moments, while joy can come and go in seconds (Paul, 2015).

Pleasure can contribute to happiness, and happiness can increase or deepen feelings of pleasure, but the two can also be mutually exclusive. For example, you may feel happiness based on meaning and commitment that is unrelated to pleasure, or you may feel pleasure but also struggle with guilt, which prevents you from feeling happy at the same time.

happiness versus meaning

Happiness and purpose have an even clearer line between the two. Happiness and meaning are rarely confused or used interchangeably, and with good reason: They describe two very different experiences.

Human beings can be like many other creatures in their search for happiness, but the search for meaning is a fundamental part of what makes us human, and it is unique.

(Video) Why Meaning is More Important than Happiness

Roy Baumeister et al. (2013)

Unlike happiness, purpose is not a fleeting state that fluctuates throughout the day; it is a broader sense of purpose and a sense of contributing to something bigger than yourself.

As Baumeister et al. (2013) citation suggests, there are important differences between search methods and the benefits of experiencing happiness and meaning. Scott Barry Kaufman of Scientific American (2016) describes these differences that Baumeister and his fellow researchers found between the two:

  • Finding life easy or difficult was associated with happiness but not meaning;
  • Feeling healthy was associated with happiness but not with meaning;
  • Feeling good was associated with happiness, not meaning;
  • Scarcity of money reduced happiness more than meaning;
  • People with the most meaningful lives agreed that "relationships are more important than achievement";
  • Helping those in need brought purpose, but not happiness;
  • Expecting to think very deeply was positively associated with meaning but negatively associated with happiness;
  • Happiness was more related to being a taker than a giver, while purpose was more related to being a giver than a taker;
  • The more people felt that their activities aligned with core issues and values ​​about themselves, the greater the importance they reported in their activities;
  • Seeing oneself as wise, creative, and even fearful was associated with purpose but not happiness (even showing a negative relationship in some cases) (Kaufman, 2016).

Although both overlap and both can contribute to the experience of the other, both can be mutually exclusive (Baumeister et al., 2013).

Relevant reading:

Origin and etymology of happiness (incl. keywords)

Respectivelyonline etymologies(n.d.) The word "luck" in most languages ​​comes from the word "happiness." This points to an interesting trend: perhaps our ancestors believed that happiness was largely a byproduct of happiness?

It also points to a possible general disagreement between previous generations and our own generations of the 20th and 21st centuries: that happiness was not a determining factor in the good life, but essentially a bonus enjoyed by the lucky few.

This is what author Darrin McMahon writes about the origins and roots of the word "happiness":

“It is an amazing fact that in all Indo-European languages ​​without exception, since ancient Greek, the word happiness is related to the word luck. Hap is the Old Norse and Old English root for luck and simply means luck or chance, like the Old French heur, which gives us bonheur, good luck or happiness. German gives us the word Gluck, which still today means luck and chance.

(Mc Mahon, 2006)

What does own happiness mean?

Although the term is not used very often, "self-happiness" refers to a feeling of happiness or satisfaction with oneself. It is often associated with self-confidence, self-esteem, and other concepts that associate "the self" with feelings of satisfaction. satisfaction and combine happiness.

In general, it means that you are happy with yourself, with your choices and with who you are.

The psychology behind human happiness

Now that we know what happiness is, let's dig a little deeper. What does psychology tell us about happiness?

There are many different theories of happiness, but they generally fall into one of two categories based on how they conceptualize happiness (or well-being):

  1. hedonicHappiness/well-being is happiness conceptualized as experiencing more joy and less pain; includes an affective component (high positive affect and low negative affect) and a cognitive component (satisfaction with one's life);
  2. eudaimonicHappiness/Well-Being conceptualizes happiness as the result of finding and realizing purpose, meaning, challenge, and personal growth in life; Happiness is based on developing your full potential and working at full capacity (AIPC, 2011).

Some theories view happiness as a by-product of other, more important activities in life, while others view happiness as man's ultimate goal. Some theories hold that the pursuit of happiness is futile (although the pursuit of other important experiences and feelings can contribute to greater happiness), and some hold that happiness can be increased or enhanced on purpose.

(Video) What Is Happiness? - An Extremely Advanced Definition Of Happiness

Although they differ on details, these theories generally agree on a few points:

  • It's good to be happy and people like to be happy;
  • Happiness is not an entirely fleeting and momentary experience, nor is it a long-term and stable trait;
  • At least some of our happiness is determined by our genetics, but the amount varies between around 10% and 50%;
  • The pursuit and pursuit of pleasure rarely leads to happiness;
  • There are many sources that contribute to or constitute happiness (AIPC, 2011).

What sources create true personal happiness?

Putting all the different theories and views on happiness together, we know that there are at least a few factors that are very important to overall happiness:

  • single income;
  • situation in the labor market;
  • Physical Health;
  • Family;
  • Social relationships;
  • Moral values;
  • Experiencing positive emotions (AIPC, 2011).

All of these factors can contribute to a happy life, but research has found that good relationships are an essential part (Waldinger & Schulz, 2010).

When we are happy in our most important relationships (usually our spouse or partner, our children and/or our parents, other close family members, and our closest friends), we tend to be happier.

We have some control over how our relationships go, which leads us to an interesting and important question: Can we increase our own happiness?

Can man learn to be happy?

The answer from multiple studies is a resounding YES: you can learn to be happier.

The extent to which you can increase your happiness varies greatly depending on which theory you subscribe to, but there are no credible theories that leave absolutely no room for individual improvement. To improve your overall happiness, the most effective way is to look at the list of sources above and work to improve the quality of your experience in each source.

For example, you can work for a higher salary (although a higher salary only works up to around $75,000 per year), improve your salaryHealth, I work inDevelopingand maintain quality relationships and generally find ways to be more inclusivepositive feelingsin your daily life. This requires basic access to security and social equality.

8 examples that describe what a happy life is like

What is happiness and why is it important? (+ definition) (3)Given our definitions, what does a happy life look like?

Of course, the appearance depends on the person: a happy life for one can be a nightmare for another!

However, there are some examples that can show a wide range of lives that can lead to happiness:

  1. A woman who lives alone, has excellent relationships with her nieces and nephews, gives to charity and finds meaning in her work;
  2. A happily married man with three healthy children and a relatively low-paying job;
  3. A widow who enjoys regular visits from her children and grandchildren and volunteers with local charities;
  4. A cancer patient who has a wonderful support system and finds purpose in helping others through chemotherapy;
  5. A social worker who works 70 hours a week with no overtime pay to ensure the children are in good hands with their workload;
  6. A lonely man in a monastery, without earthly possessions or salary worth mentioning, but who finds meaning in communion with his god;
  7. A foster teen who has many close friends and enjoys playing soccer for his school team;
  8. A man who lives with several pets, has a high salary and loves what he does.

Each one is drawn from real examples of happy people. They don't seem to have everything, but they all have at least one of the ingredients from the source list above. We don't have to have everything we want to be happy, true happiness can be found by finding joy in what we already have, however little or more it may seem.

What visions do you associate with happiness? Are there similarities with these dreams?

Why is happiness so important?

You may be wondering why happiness is considered such an important aspect of life when there are so many components to a meaningful life.

In a way, science would agree with you. Seemslife satisfactionPurpose and well-being can be associated with happiness, but happiness is not necessarily everyone's primary goal in life. It is still important because it has some undeniable positive benefits and co-occurring factors.

(Video) Shawn Achor's Unexpected Definition of Happiness | SuperSoul Sessions | Oprah Winfrey Network

Happify's June Silny describes 14 answers to the question: "What good is happiness anyway?

  1. Happy people are moreSuccessfulin multiple areas of life, including marriage, friendship, income, job performance, and health.
  2. Happy people get sick less often and have fewer symptoms when they do get sick.
  3. Happy people have more friends and a better support system.
  4. Happy people donate more to charity (and donating money to charity makes you happy too).
  5. Happy people are more helpful and committed, which makes you happier too!
  6. Happy people find it easier to navigate through life, as optimism alleviates pain, sadness, and suffering.
  7. Happy people exert a positive influence on others and encourage them to seek happiness as well, which can act as a reinforcement.
  8. Happy people have deeper, more meaningful conversations.
  9. Happy people smile more, which is good for your health.
  10. Happy people exercise more and eat healthier.
  11. Happy people are content with what they have instead of being jealous of others.
  12. Happy people are healthier in every way and are more likely to stay healthy in the future.
  13. Happy people live longer than those who are not so happy.
  14. Happier people are more productive and creative, and this effect extends to anyone who experiences positive emotions.

The relationship between mental health and happiness

As you can probably see from the list above, there is a strong relationship between mental health and happiness! When happier people are healthier, have better relationships, make friends more easily, and achieve more success in life, it's easy to see why happiness and mental health are linked.

The sources that contribute to happiness are the same ones that provide people with a buffer or protection against mental illness, which explains the close relationship between the two.

A recent study examined the link between happiness and mental health among college students and found that a relatively strong positive correlation links the two factors (Shafiq, Nas, Ansar, Nasrulla, Bushra, & Imam, 2015). This correlation held even when gender and sociodemographic variables were added.

The close connection between mental health and happiness is reason enough to make happiness a top priority for parents, educators, researchers, and medical professionals, along with the simple fact that we all like to feel happy.

6 videos that explain happiness

If you're interested in learning more about happiness from a scientific perspective, there are some videos you might want to check out, including:

Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness by Professor Tal Ben-Shahar of the WGBH Forum.

Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance TEDTalk from TEDx Talks

Positive Psychology - Happiness by Professor Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. by FightMediocrity

How to be happy: the science of happiness and positive feelings in life by Memorize Academy

The amazing science of happiness TED Talk by Dan Gilbert of TED

How to be happy - The secret of authentic happiness - Martin Seligman of Practical Psychology

A message to take away

I hope you have found this article useful and informative and that you have learned something new about the scientific study of happiness. It is a fascinating field of research and new discoveries are being made all the time. Make sure you stay up to datelucky literature, as the results can help you live your best life.

What do you think of happiness? Would you define it differently? What do you think is the most important ingredient for your own happiness? Let us know in the comments section!

Thanks for reading, I hope you all find happiness in all your walks in life.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I did not forget itDownload our three positive psychology exercises for free.


  • AIPC. (2011). Happiness and positive psychology.Artikelbibliothek des Australian Institute of Professional Counselors. Retrieved from https://www.aipc.net.au/articles/happiness-and-positive-psychology/
  • Baumeister, R., Vohs, K.D., Aaker, J.L. and Gabinsky, E.N. (2013). Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life.Journal of Positive Psychology, August, 505-516.
  • Kaufman, S.B. (2016). The differences between happiness and the meaning of life.american scientist. Obtenido de https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences- between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/
  • Kim-Prieto C, Diener E, Tamir M, Scollon CN, and Diener M (2005). integrate diversity
    Definitions of happiness: a sequential time frame of subjective well-being.Journal of Happiness Studies, 6th Edition, 261-300.
  • McMahon, D. (2006).Happiness: a story. New York, New York: Grove Press.
  • Online Etymological Dictionary (undated). Happy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/
  • Paulo, M. (2015). The difference between happiness and pleasure.Huffington Post: Vida. Obtenido de https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-difference- between-happiness-and-pleasure_b_7053946
  • Shafiq S, Naz RA, Ansar M, Nasrulla T, Bushra M, and Imam S (2015). Happiness related to mental health among university students.International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 5, 124-132.
  • Silny, J. (nd). What good is happiness anyway? (The answer: quite a lot!).happy everyday. Retrieved from https://www.happify.com/hd/whats-so-great-about-happiness/
  • Waldinger, RJ & Schulz, MS (2010). What does love have to do with it?: Social functioning, perceived health and daily happiness in married octogenarians.Psychology and Aging, 25, 422-431.


What is happiness and why is it important? ›

Experiencing happiness is important for our emotional and physical health. A stronger sense of happiness and wellbeing has been shown to lead to better relationships, increase social connection and contribution to the lives of others, as well as contributing to healthier physical wellbeing.

What is your definition of happiness answer? ›

Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. The "pursuit of happiness" is something this country is based on, and different people feel happiness for different reasons.

What is the perfect definition of happiness? ›

happiness. noun. hap·​pi·​ness ˈhap-i-nəs. : a state of well-being and contentment : joy.

What is the most important for happiness? ›

According to many researchers, strong social relationships are the most important contributor to enduring happiness for most people. Those who are happiest generally devote a great amount of time to their family, friends, and colleagues. They nurture and enjoy those relationships.

Why happiness is important in our life essay? ›

In addition, true happiness comes from within yourself. Happiness is basically a state of mind. Moreover, it can only be achieved by being positive and avoiding any negative thought in mind. And if we look at the bright side of ourselves only then we can be happy.

Is happiness the most important purpose in life? ›

Happiness for many is the main purpose in life (manifested as loving relationships or career success). There is a distinct difference between happiness that is joy and pleasure which is often confused as happiness. A happy mindset can be improved through meditation, gratitude, and strong relationships.


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