What is Happiness?

happiness positive psychology Mar 09, 2022
Life Success Academy, Braco Pobric

Since happiness means different things to different people, there are many definitions of happiness. If you "Google" it, you will get over two million results. Keep in mind; the most important definition is yours.   How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? 

As you may know, researchers in the field of positive psychology have published numerous findings on the subject of happiness. And the way they do the research, none of us would think of happiness that way. 

Let me explain. Most of us don't perform an act of unexpected kindness -doing something nice for others - thinking that will make us happy; we don't go to nature thinking that will make us happy; we are not grateful because we want to be happy. And yet happiness is a byproduct of such activities. 

But when researchers study it, they take each of these activities to see if they make us happy. And when the results are in, and the research shows that say activity X makes us happy, it may or may not apply to you. It worked for the majority of the participants, but not all. 

This is important because some people are disappointed with themselves and their life when they try some tools that research says should make us happy, and it does not. This is another reason you have to come up with your definition of happiness. What makes you happy is paramount. Not what other people say should make you happy. 

Regardless of what makes you happy or your definition of happiness, based on my experience, study, and research, happiness has three components: pleasure, meaning, and flow or engagement. Again, you are welcome to adopt and or change this definition. 


Many of us often see happiness primarily as pleasure. But the issue here is that pleasure and pleasant moments do not last for a long time.

Here is an example that some younger readers will not even believe is true, and it will remind the older readers what it was like to be on the Internet in 1993. Back then, I used the Internet company called Compuserve – some of you may remember it – I would start downloading a file before I went to sleep and was so happy to wake up in the morning and find the file downloaded on my PC. 

Now, if the file doesn't download immediately, we get upset. We got used to a pleasure to get the file in fractions of the second, and if it takes longer now, we get upset. 

How can you find more pleasure in your life? You know what makes you feel good. You know what activities please you. As long as it does not negatively affect your health or heart, other people do more of it. Remember, pleasure is habitual, and we get used to it quickly. 


Unlike pleasure, which is often an outside happiness factor, meaning is an inside factor. We are the ones which create meaning for our life. Sometimes it is challenging, but connecting what we do daily with the meaning is essential. 

For example, instead of seeing our job only as a way to get paid and pay our bills (as most of us do), try to find meaning in it. When I worked as a Director of a large financial organization, I didn't just have a job. I found meaning in it.  

I was helping the world economy grow, helping people worldwide exchange their currency and goods, helping small businesses run cabling in our data centers and therefore be able to provide a good life to their families, etc.  

We need to feel like servings something better, more significant than ourselves. In that sense, when we do something altruistic, we feel better because we help other people.  

You can see a difference between altruism and pleasure. Pleasure is something that helps us feel good – directly. Generosity, doing something selfless, helps other people and at the same time helps us as well without seeking pleasure for ourselves.  

To build even more meaning in our life, let's be authentic, be ourselves. Don't ever try to mimic someone else. Try meditation, pray and or simply care for others. Go deeper and try to find meaning in what you do and what you want to do, what your life is all about, and you will improve your overall happiness. 

Without meaning and purpose, and I don't mean just a big meaning, "why am I here" I refer to finding a meaning for many things we do daily; there is no happiness. 


Remember when you were a kid (I know some of us, the lucky ones still are) and when you played your favorite game – it does not matter what it was – soccer, football, basketball – or simply played with dirt - nothing mattered at that time. You did not think of the end game; you did not think of the past or future – you were simply in the moment. In the flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines it. In a state of being fully engaged. 

Tal Ben Shahar defines it as a "meditation in action." I love this definition as it is so easy to understand.   In meditation, you are entirely focused on your breath, body, object, etc.; in flow, you concentrate on playing music, games, creating art, writing, etc.  

While in the flow, your existence is temporarily suspended. You don't exist. It is just that moment that exists. We need to be more in the "flow" to become happier and more productive.  

How can you be in flow – just emerged in what you do – it could be cooking, gardening, walking, running, playing music, playing with your children, or any other activity where you can be fully engaged. 


Now we know that pleasure, meaning, and flow can bring us more happiness. And you chose the activities under each of these categories that work for you. 

Still, we have to be cautious here. We should not see happiness as a goal. It is not about the pursuit of happiness. It is about the happiness of pursuit. It is about a journey and not the end goal. We could become happier if we apply some of the tools from Positive Psychology, but happiness is a byproduct of these tools. So keep that in mind, please.

Find what brought you pleasure, meaning, and flow in the past, and try to repeat the process. 

Braco Pobric is an Internationally Recognized Positive Psychology Expert, Executive Coach, and Corporate Trainer. He is the bestselling author of Habits and Happiness: How to Become Happier and Improve Your Wellbeing by Changing Your Habits. Braco is a founding member and Chief Happiness Officer of the Life Success Academy, Certified Positive Psychology Master Coach and Trainer, and former globally Certified Trainer and Business Coach for Dale Carnegie Training. He trained over 60,000 Students in 172 countries.

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