The 3 types of happiness

This is a very exciting time for me with the introduction of my first guest blogger – Rachel Willis. Rachel and I have met as a direct result of the #likeminds social media conference earlier this year and amazingly she wasn’t even there! A very good friend of hers – Caroline Bosher put the two of us in touch. Rachel is a strategist and has worked with quite a few household names including Deloitte and GlaxoSmithKline to name just two. Rachel and I hope to collaborate more in the future so this won’t be the last you read from her. Enjoy.

Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

Rachel Willis

rachel@rachel-willis.co.uk
www.rachel-willis.co.uk

twitter.com/RachelWillisUK


Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

p.s You can now add your email address to my 'newsletter' signup. I'll be adding value to this group of people as often as possible - they will receive things from me that others don't have access to, so please signup today.



p.p.s. If you like what you’ve read here then you should sign up to my RSS feed and every time I update this site the post will be sent to your reader automatically.

  • http://scottgould.me Scott Gould

    Very good.

    It is *so* important to know that whist we may not be temporarily ‘happy’, that we are on the greater level ‘content’

    Particularly important when we consider the trials of those enterprising, and the set backs and disappointments we face (as well as the heady highs)

  • http://www.greenlandstudio.co.uk Michael Greenland

    Great post.

    It’s amazing how many people spend their whole lives living in number 1, when most can live in number 3 – if they decide to make the choice.

    In terms of any sort of happiness, I guess the most important point is that it’s never found externally – it comes from within. Our reactions to our external world are choices based on how we wish to choose to see things. If we choose to be content in life – we will be content, and no matter what happens, you will always be happy.

    I always refer to Stephen Covey on this: we are ‘responsible’ or rather ‘response-able’ with our own emotions. We have the power to choose our feelings, and when we choose to enjoy or be happy, we choose that emotion for ourselves.

    It’s better to choose number 3 and moments of number 2&1, enjoy every moment of you life. Be content. After all – if you’re not enough without it – you’ll never be enough with it :-)

  • http://www.rachel-willis.co.uk Rachel Willis

    Thanks chaps; all very valid points and I appreciate your comments.

  • http://www.superliving.co.uk Colin Winstanley (SuperLiving)

    Well expressed!

    There is still so much confusion between happiness, money and possessions, but happiness is internal, and something you carry with you day to day. Much more Eastern than Western in concept.

    It is great to see happiness now taken seriously in psychology, and the results are rather interesting.

    I have tried to express some ideas in my happiness video at http://www.superliving.co.uk/pharmacy/happiness.html

    Be happy

    Colin Winstanley
    Director of SuperLiving, all about health, happiness and success.