8 Traits of Happy People: What Kind of Happiness Are You Nurturing?
by Anne Parker, MA, MHSA, Miraval
It is said that happiness is the absence of unhappiness. In psychology we talk about two kinds of happiness. The two kinds of happiness are hedonia and eudaimonia.
Hedonia is the kind of happiness that comes from things, sensory pleasure, stimuli that “make us happy”. There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of pleasure-based happiness. In fact, notice and savor happy moments as they resonate with our well-being overall. However, as the term hedonism suggests, there are significant drawbacks to this kind of happiness.
First, the hedonia kind of happiness is fleeting. Its effects are always temporary. The “hedonic treadmill” – needing more and more of the same stimulus to produce the same pleasurable feeling. For example, who eats one piece of chocolate? Or, does eating one square create a craving for more?
Second, the sources of hedonic happiness are external to us and, therefore, usually not within our control. To wait to feel happy can cause frustration. If we pin our happiness on someone else doing what we want, that is even more out of our control. Hedonia makes our happiness dependent on some thing or somebody else.
Eudaimonia is the broader and deeper kind of happiness. Eudaimonia translates as ‘being true to your inner self’ or ‘manifesting the divine spirit’. One nurtures this kind of happiness from within. Cultivate eudaemonia through contentment, satisfaction, a sense of meaning and loving connections in life. Also, we can experience eudaimonic happiness even when there are neative stressors and sources of unhappiness present.
Positive psychology has identified 8 primary traits of happy people.
- nurture and enjoy relationships with family and friends
- are comfortable expressing gratitude and acknowledging the positive
- easily offer help and assistance to others; practice compassion
- practice optimism;
- savor pleasures and engage in the present
- are physically active
- commit to personal goals and values
- resiliently ride the waves of the inevitable stressors, crises, and tragedies.
Developing these traits supports your experience of eudaimonia or true happiness. Will you make these traits your focus of action?
This is one of our favorite articles. It was originally published on August 20, 2015.