Frameworks for Happiness (1)

There seems to be a certain timeliness in my exploration of joy; with governments looking at indicators of ‘happiness’ and businesses aspiring to ‘deliver happiness’, one can’t help but hope for a sea-change in values and motivations!

Increasingly I find many of the same words cropping up in discussions of models of happiness that I relate to joy; connectedness, flow, engagement, meaning.

In attempting to understand joy, it therefore seems important also to look at happiness in an attempt to grasp what connects and what differentiates them.

Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos), in his book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, offers an interesting selection of frameworks through which to view happiness. I am including two of these, with some commentary, in this and a subsequent post. (You can find these and more in the Resources section of the Delivering Happiness website)

In looking at this model, my sense is that perceived control (the ability to impact on outcomes) and perceived progress (some sense of forward motion) are vital to one’s sense of wellbeing and happiness, but not necessarily a component part of joy – interesting that both require a time dimension.

However, connectedness and vision/meaning seem to me to be key to the experience of joy.

In the context of connectedness, I found particularly interesting the conclusion (from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt) that

. . . happiness doesn’t come primarily from within but, rather, from between.

Vision and meaning are seen in this model as giving us our internal sense of value. However, as indicated in earlier posts, I would also suggest that there is also a need to develop skills in the creation of meaning – meaning does not simply exist outside of ourselves as something we must find but is something that we have the power to bring to our experience of living.

What do you perceive as the connectors and differentiators of happiness and joy? (Please comment!)

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