The experience of ‘happiness’ can be classified into 4 different Elements.
These Elements of Well-Being give us helpful lenses through which to see our lives and the ways we experience well-being. Each Element is important in its own way, as we will see.
Click any of the images below to learn about that Well-Being Element.
From each Element, you will also be led to related books, links, videos, and tools to assist you on your journey to a ‘happier’ life.
Element #1: Ephemeral Pleasures
Learn about the simplest, easiest, most immediately fulfilling, most distracting, type of ‘happiness.’
Some examples may be: A tasty meal, a ‘frivolous’ book, a party, a movie, getting a nice car, checking things off a to-do list, gambling, or watching sports.
Element #2: Flow & Engagement
The type of ‘happiness’ that empowers us with a meditative awareness in the present moment.
Some examples may be: getting lost in art, listening to an engaging speech, hiking, climbing, dancing, improvising on an instrument, reading, or a conversation that seemed to fly by.
Element #3: Perspective
This one is like a meta-element. It’s all about how we contextualize our experiences.
Some examples may be how one perceives: grocery shopping, exercise, answering emails, paying bills, having a meal that wasn’t how you expected…
Between the experience and the reaction, there is a gap.
Element #4: Meaning
The most important and powerful element of well-being, this one is what actually brings JOY.
Some examples may be: learning a new craft, talking about your future, solving a problem at work, playing music for others, taking care of a grandparent, friendship, marriage.
We offer this model as a mental aid, informed by science. Note that no definitive, unequivocal model of human well-being exists. And psychologists across the world continue their ongoing research in virtue of uncovering as much detail as possible.By breaking the elements of well-being into memorable and cohesive parts, hopefully, you will be assisted in understanding, remembering, and intentionally implementing the complex facets of well-being in your own life.
If you’ve already read the landing page for this section, you’ve seen how happiness is a broken concept. The word carries a loose overemphasis on cheerfulness and good feelings, when it could refer to more, deeper aspects of well-being.
Our Happiness vs. Joy page highlights the division between feeling good and experiencing meaning. We’ve noted how, throughout these pages, we are bringing more intention to our use of these different words to aid us in understanding and communication. These distinctions are thus:
‘Happiness’ – The title of this section, when we put this word in quotes we are signifying the colloquial use of the word, which in fact conflates Happiness and Joy. This refers to overarching, holistic well-being on all fronts; both hedonic AND eudaimonic.
***Read the glossary page to see how we’re defining these and other terms throughout the site.
Breaking ‘happiness’ up into its more specific parts will aid you in your journey of living well.
There are many Models of ‘Happiness’ out there to inform your overview. And central to our pages covering this topic is our model of the 4 Elements of Well-Being.
Exercise: Your ‘Happiness’ List
Before reading through the 4 Elements, we invite you to make a personal ‘Happiness’ list.
This fun exercise will be informing, even without the 4 Elements. It will put you in a positive mood as you create it, and we will look back at this list later with the Choice Diary.
The Choice Diary
Map your ‘happiness’ across the 4 Elements!
If you’ve already read through the pages for each Element, you can apply your understanding and relate it to your own life.
If you’d like to do this as a way of first experimenting with the 4 Elements, that’s ok too. And, we’d recommend revisiting later after reading through each page.