The Problem with Happiness Articles

In my research about happiness, the same fundamental issue surfaces… how do you define it? Most choose, “wellbeing” and in fact many make that differentiation between joy (temporary) and contentment (long term peace). I have noticed that wellbeing is usually defined as good to excellent health, an active social life, positive self perception and a self-reported optimism about your own future and the world.

Strangely enough, if you asked me if I was happy, I’d say yes.  If you engaged me on each of those facets of “wellbeing,” you might not label me as “happy.” I say all this to help explain why I cringe when the Huffington Post article pops into my FB feed: “Five Things Happy People Do Every Morning” or “The Secrets to Finding Happiness,” as if the way I breathe or brush my teeth might alter my self loathing or pessimism about humanity.

I prefer Emily Esfahani Smith’s take on the “Happiness” question in her Atlantic Article, There’s More to Life than Being Happy. That “more” is defined as purpose beyond the singleness of self.  It’s purpose in connection to others and even in connection to your future self.

But if “purpose” seems too dry for some, then consider what Happiness really means to you and not just what it means to researchers and social psychologists and neurologists. I think ultimately it’s a chosen state of mind, meaning different things to different people, but representing a general sense of peace within daily living.

Here at Human Unlimited,  I wrote a Happiness Article that looks at an American trend to flip “the formula” and essentially mess up the whole concept of “finding” happiness. Spoiler alert: It’s not “found.” There are no five steps or morning routines. It’s a preexisting condition to a meaningful life.


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