Friday, February 5, 2010

Happiness and The Good Life

I recently read an article by Anne Birgitta Pessi entitled, "What Constitutes Experiences of Happiness and the Good Life? - Building a Novel Model on the Everyday Experiences."  From her perspective, happiness and "the good life" are two different things.  She equates the good life with well being and indicates that well being = a person's situation + a person's state of mind.  In other words, well being includes what is going on in a person's life, relationships, and environment as well as what is going on with a person internally (mentally, spiritually, and emotionally).  I found this to be an interesting distinction.

The article detailed a study done in Finland that asked people to identify what constitutes "the good life."  The conclusions of the study were interesting but I was struck most by a passing statement the author made when considering the validity of the measurement instrument.  She said,

"Most of us say one thing makes us happy (family;love) but act differently." 

I was jotting down notes as I read the article and I put big stars by this statement.  Then I wrote, "What do we need to change so that what we say and what we do match up?" 

I think most of us could benefit from asking ourselves this question.  What do we need to change in our lives so that what we say is important to us matches up with what our behaviors indicate are our priorities?  Does that mean we should spend more time relaxing and less time working?  Should we be setting aside more time for our families?  Should we take that trip we've always wanted to take but always made excuses for why we couldn't do it?  When you are at the end of your life looking back what will you regret?  What can you do now to avoid that regret?  Are you willing to do it?


  1. So true! After years of working in nursing homes (my pre-mommy life), the one piece of advice that I heard over and over again was to live life so that you won't have regrets. And, btw, I never heard anyone say that they regretted not achieving more in their chosen career. It was always about time spent with family.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Fantastic post... great questions.

    This is definitely a lifelong dilemma for most, myself included.

    (I wrote a comment back atcha in response to your thoughtful comment. Please take a look when you have a sec).

  3. If I'm right no one make want to make a bad desicion, so how do you handle that?

  4. Just for clarification -- are you asking how to handle it if you've made a bad decision or how to handle not wanting to make a bad decision?

  5. Well, if you've made a bad decision I think it's important to forgive yourself. We're human and humans make mistakes. Forgiving yourself means coming to terms with the fact that you made a mistake and not continuing to beat yourself up over it. I also think it's important to identify ways to avoid making the same mistake again. This also applies to not wanting to make a bad decision. You spend some time examining what is important to you in life and then determine how you can enact these values on a regular basis. For example, if you value family then you might decide to call one family member every evening or to try to visit once a month (or whatever is practical for you). It might me asking someone else for forgiveness or taking steps to repair a damaged relationship.

  6. If I'm right, no one want to make a bad desicion, how do you handle that? Nobody gets married to divorce (this is one example)


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