35. “Some have argued that it is misleading to use ‘happiness’ as a generic term to cover subjective well-being more generally. While ‘subjective well-being’ is more precise, it simply does not have the convening power of ‘happiness’. The main linguistic argument for using happiness in a broader generic role is that happiness plays two important roles within the science of well-being, appearing once as a prototypical positive emotion and again as part of a cognitive life evaluation question. This double use has sometimes been used to argue that there is no coherent structure to happiness responses. The converse argument made in the World Happiness Reports is that this double usage helps to justify using happiness in a generic role, as long as the alternative meanings are clearly understood and credibly related. Evidence from a growing number of large scale surveys shows that the answers to questions asking about the emotion of happiness differ from answers to judgmental questions asking about a person’s happiness with life as a whole in exactly the ways that theory would suggest. Answers to questions about the emotion of happiness relate well to what is happening at the moment. Evaluative answers, in response to questions about life as a whole, are supported by positive emotions, as noted above, but also driven much more, than are answers to questions about emotions, by a variety of life circumstances, including income, health and social trust.” John F. Helliwell and others, World Happiness Report, 2015, quoted in What’s Special About Happiness as a Social Indicator? John F. Helliwell, Published online: 25 February 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017.
TLDR: ‘Answers to questions asking about the emotion of happiness differ from answers to judgmental questions asking about a person’s happiness with life as a whole.’
[Aside: I am learning more about what other people think about when we ask each other, ‘What is happiness?’ Naturally it’s a very unwieldy and unpopular (as well as difficult to answer without acute self-awareness) kinduva question to put to someone you do not know. Read this though, thought it was curious. PERMA (an acronym for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment— the basic dimensions of psychological flourishing). Below is something from The PERMA Profiler. Julie Butler & Margaret L. Kern, University of Pennsylvania, which I got from: https://www.peggykern.org/uploads/5/6/6/7/56678211/the_perma-profiler_101416.pdf
In his 2011 book Flourish, Dr. Martin Seligman,
Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the founders of the field of positive psychology, defined 5 pillars of wellbeing: PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment). The PERMA-Profiler measures these five pillars, along with negative emotion and health.
P and N = Positive and Negative emotions
Emotions are an important part of our well-being. Emotions can range from very negative to very positive, and range from high arousal (e.g., excitement, explosive) to low arousal (e.g., calm, relaxed, sad). For Positive emotion, the PERMA-Profiler measures general tendencies toward feeling contentment and joy. For Negative emotion, the Profiler measures tendencies toward feeling, sad, anxious, and angry.
E = Engagement
Engagement refers to being absorbed, interested, and involved in an activity or the world itself. Very high levels of engagement are known as a state called “flow”, in which you are so completely absorbed in an activity that you lose all sense of time.
R = Relationships
Relationships refer to feeling loved, supported, and valued by others. Having positive relationships with others is an important part of life feeling good and going well. Other people matter!
M = Meaning
Meaning refers to having a sense of purpose in life, a direction where life is going, feeling that life is valuable and worth living, or connecting to something greater than ourselves, such as religious faith, a charity or a personally meaningful goal. Meaning provides a sense that life matters.
A = Accomplishment
Accomplishment can be objective, marked by honors and awards received, but feelings of mastery and achievement is also important. The Profiler measures subjective feelings of accomplishment and staying on top of daily responsibilities. It involves working toward and reaching goals, and feeling able to complete tasks and daily responsibilities.
H = Health
Although not part of the PERMA model itself, physical health and vitality is another important part of well- being. The Profiler measures a subjective sense of health – feeling good and healthy each day.]
So. There it is. (Are you, reading there, are you… are you happy? Hmmmmm. Let’s discuss. Email me through my website at Design Kompany sometime, if we already know each other, and you want to connect. Cool.)