This week a friend sent me a video of a TED talk on positive psychology.  The part that I loved talked about happiness.

According to the video, there are three main components of happiness.

First, there is positivity.  This describes the happiness that you get when you eat a piece of chocolate, or receive a thoughtful gift, or hear a funny joke.  This type of happiness unfortunately is difficult to maintain.  After several pieces of chocolate, the happiness dissipates to nothing.

Secondly, there is focus.  We don’t even think of this as happiness usually.  This is when you are completely engaged in an activity, like a game of chess, or solving a problem at work, or playing a musical instrument.  In reality, you are so in the moment you don’t seem to be feeling that many emotions at all.

Finally, there is meaning.  When you are living a life that is meaningful, when you feel like the actions you are doing are helping others, that can be a type of happiness.

And what they discovered is that the people who rated themselves the most happy had all three aspects in their life.  But, those who only had one aspect were the happiest when it was a meaningful life.

For me, this resonates.  My happiest times in my life have been when I am engaged, visiting people in nursing homes, working with youth groups, involved in my church, and having healthy relationships with others.  When my life is slow, I find a project that will allow my hours of focus and planning, because it’s more important to my wellbeing than doing things that are pleasurable.

What about you?  If you could do something pleasurable or something that takes intense focus or something for someone else or for the good of the world, which would you prefer?  Why?

Here is a link to the site and the video.


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