Authentic Happiness

Are you truly happy? Or do you just think you are?

What is the difference between happiness and wellbeing? Does the different matter?  To a Humanist it does.

My books are about happiness, from a Humanist perspective, but actually happiness is an inadequate word. As one of my late friends once said, he isn’t aiming for happiness, he is aiming for contentment. Other Humanists, like the late Paul Kurtz, preferred the word eudemonia (which is a Greek word that roughly translates as human flourishing).

Whatever this thing is that we call happiness, it’s clearly anything but simple. It’s one of those, “you know it when you experience it” sort of things. The problem is that most people have never truly experienced it, which is why there are all sorts of self-help coaches out there teaching “how to be happy” or authentic happiness. There is also a ton of research into how to be happy that has been conducted by the positive psychology movement, which sounds a lot more cultier than it actually is.

What is interesting to me is that Marty Seligman – who is one of the founders of the positive psychology movement has decided (in the last couple of years), that his authentic happiness theory isn’t complete and that what we should be aiming for wellbeing instead.

To have wellbeing he says you need 5 things:

Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects)
Meaning and purpose

According to Seligman “The goal of positive psychology in well-being theory ... is to increase the amount of flourishing in your own life and on the planet.” Sounds like Humanism to me.

To learn more read an excerpt from his book at:

And participate in his online research program into happiness by filling out some questionnaires.

View a video of Seligman speaking on his theory of wellbeing -

Or get his book: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

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