Happiness and satisfaction

 

Happiness research is hot these days, and it is good to see this topic finally getting the attention it deserves. After all, what do we want if not happiness?

When I explore it for myself, I find two or three layers of happiness or satisfaction.

First, the happiness that is expressed as joy. It comes and goes within a day, or over a few days or weeks. And it is often triggered by simple joys and pleasures such as food, conversations, walks, enjoying nature, and so on.

Then, the happiness that comes more in the form of satisfaction. It exists more over days, weeks or months, and involves clarifying my goals and what is meaningful for me, pursuing and attaining meaningful goals, being engaged in nurturing and meaningful activities and relationships, and finding meaning in situations in my life.

Then, the happiness that comes in the form of contentment. This exists over weeks, months, years and decades, and it comes from a life deeply and thoroughly aligned with my deepest and most honest values, with what is most important to me in life. And as with the previous, quite similar layer, it is connected to a sense of deep meaning in activities, life and situations. It has all to do with how I relate to and engage with life – myself, others, the larger whole, existence itself.

All of these also comes from sincere gratitude, sincere well-wishing for myself and others, and a sense of belonging and meaningful and nurturing connections with myself and the wider world – social and ecological systems, the universe, and existence itself.

I also find a stream of quiet joy independent of content of experience. It seems to be a quiet joy inherent in experiencing itself.

And all of this – joy or lack of joy, meaning or lack of meaning, a me and the wider world, an I as a doer and an observer – happens within and as what is. As this awake no-thing appearing to itself as something.

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Happiness research is hot these days, and it is good to see this topic finally getting the attention it deserves. After all, what do we want if not happiness?

One thing I find slightly confusing is the terminology, especially when happiness is equated with satisfaction, contentment, or well-being. It all depends on our definitions, of course. But in daily life, each of those words have slightly different meanings, so it is good when research takes that into account. It will make the findings more relevant and intuitive to people, and differentiation can give new insights.

When I look at my own experience, it seems most helpful to think of it as layered….

First, what I think of as happiness. It comes and goes within a day, or over a few days. And it is often triggered by simple daily joys and pleasures, such as food, conversation, walks, enjoying nature and so on. This is similar to waves, the surface layer of an ocean.

Then, a sense of satisfaction. This comes and goes over days, weeks or months, and it is often triggered by pursuing goals, being engaged in activities and relationships, and finding meaning in activities and situations in my life. This is similar to medium size currents.

Then, a sense of contentment. The time span here is months, years and decades. It comes from a life deeply and thoroughly aligned with my deepest and most honest values, with what is most important to me in life. And as with the previous, quite similar layer, it is connected to a sense of deep meaning in activities, life and situations. It has all to do with how I relate to and engage with life – myself, others, the larger whole, existence itself. This is the deep and wide ocean currents.

I also find a stream of quiet joy in experience itself, independent of content of experience. It is difficult to describe, but seems to be a joy in experience itself, or in existence itself.

And finally, I notice how this all happens as content of experience, and that all content of experience happens within and as what is. A sense of meaning or lack of meaning, as joy or sadness, as a sense of being on track or not, as a me in the world with a name, body, identities and roles, and as an I as a doer or an observer. All happening within and as what is. This mystery, awake no-thing appearing as something. Always fresh. New. Different.

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  • happiness and satisfaction
    • three layers
      • happiness – w/in a day or over a few days (waves)
        • simple joys, daily activities – food, conversations, walks
      • satisfaction – over days, weeks, months (medium currents)
        • pursuing goals
        • engaged
        • finding meaning in activities
      • contentment – over months, years, decades (deep currents)
        • a life deeply/thoroughly aligned with values
        • deep sense of meaning
        • engagement in life

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