What is happiness? Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment.

In general, it’s considered to be “subjective well-being,” which consists of two components: (1) the balance of emotions, i.e., experiencing more positive than negative feelings, and (2) life satisfaction.

According to Aristotle, happiness can be achieved via the golden mean: the balance between deficiency and excess. He also differentiated between “hedonia,” happiness derived from pleasure, and “eudaimonia,” satisfaction derived from virtue and meaning.

We can cultivate happiness in our lives by pursuing intrinsic goals, i.e., personal growth rather than status or money, enjoying the moment, for example, by practicing gratitude and the process rather than the destination, and reframing negative thoughts to a positive outlook. It’s not a “one and done” endpoint; it’s a constant pursuit that needs continuous sustenance and nurturing.

Maslow characterized happiness as a hierarchy of needs, from basic to more complex.

What are the benefits of happiness? Happiness increases life satisfaction and resilience, helps build emotional resources and more vital coping skills, and is linked to increased longevity and better health, i.e., improved immunity and healthy behaviors, like eating better and exercising more.

Are you happy? What can you do to improve your life satisfaction?

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Author JL Huffman

Author JL Huffman


I’m a retired Trauma surgeon/ICU doctor, a world traveler and gardener. I’ve published in the surgical literature; now I’m writing poetry, memoir & fiction.