In The Happiness Myth, Jennifer Michael Hecht defines three types of happiness: a moment of happiness, a good day, and a happy life. Hecht suggests that no further definition is needed because the difference between the three is obvious when we use or hear the word happiness in context.
However, she points out that these three types of of happiness are rarely in harmony with each other other, which can make achieving happiness more difficult than defining it. “Anything we do,” Hecht writes, “may facilitate one kind of happiness and inhibit another.”
In other words, skipping work to see a movie may help you have a good day but interfere with your ability to have a happy life. This conflict can complicate things when you’re trying to define happiness for yourself.
-Britt Reints, An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness
This excerpt from Britt’s new book got me thinking. Two years ago I published a manifesto called The Tower, which was all about combining short-term happiness and long-term happiness.
Overall fulfillment—a slightly different concept than happiness—is about blending the goals of good days and happy lives. When we work to create something meaningful over time, aligning our short-term choices with the desired long-term results, that’s when we’re most likely to feel happy.
But maybe that’s just me.
How about you—which of the three types of happiness do you think about the most?
How can you be focused on the happy life without sacrificing the good day and the moment of happiness?
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