15 Jun Has happiness passed it’s use-by date?
Happiness vs wellbeing – is there really a competition?
That might seem like an unusual question but there's been much debate in recent years, within the positive psychology world, about the definitions of and comparative benefits of constructs such as happiness versus wellbeing versus flourishing and more.
We've enjoyed hosting and being part of these debates as there are some truly interesting and important issues that reside within these discussions.
But recent articles and books have tried to suggest that happiness is no more a useulf term; that it is, so to speak, past it's use-by date.
In a recent Psychology Today article, for example, David Van Nuys writes "Goodbye happiness" but what he's really farewelling is hedonism and no positive psychologist worth his/her salt has ever really thought that happiness was the same as hedonism.
Hedonism is certainly not the ultimate goal of positive psychology BUT we need to be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water. As I've written many times here in this blog and in other forums, positive emotions such as happiness are very valuable and important as they provide us with energy and motivation to do what we need to do to live a full and good life. I was pleased, therefore, to see Joe Wilner putting forward a good argument recently for the advantages of positive emotions in PsychCentral.
So what am I trying to say?
Let's not turn this important discussion into an "either-or" dichotomous debate with "right and wrong" answers. There's no doubt that living a good and flourishing life involves more than positive emotions; as I wrote just a few weeks ago, wellbeing also includes positive relationships and meaning and achievement and more. But let's also recognise the very real and significant benefits of positive emotions such as happiness. Being happy and enjoying pleasure are, in fact, good for us!
That is, for now, my 2 cents worth; but what do you think? Share your thoughts and have your say on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page. I look forward, as always, to see your contributions!