Saturday, 23 August 2014

Happiness or well-being or a bit of both?

The definition of happiness varies depending on who is defining it. The definition can be quite different coming from philosopher vs. economist, young person vs. older person, psychologist vs. politician, urban resident vs. rural resident, the list could be continued endlessly. If there is not one single, universal and widely recognised and accepted definition of happiness, how can it be a common goal? Despite the lack of one universal definition, happiness is often associated with positive aspects of human life, something that is worthwhile to aim for. As human beings we often aim to be happy. Still, happiness remains an abstract and multi-dimensional concept. Feelings of happiness are perhaps more private and temporary in nature. Therefore, happiness as a single concept is quite hard to capture and conceptualise without considering it in conjunction with other related concepts. 

People’s core values are culturally connected and ultimately determine happiness at the individual level. These values vary through life and across cultures. Despite being hard to define, since the times of the Greek philosophers happiness has been considered as a synonym for a good life and well-being. The expression of ‘good life’ can perhaps be further understood through looking into what is well-being. Establishing what is well-being might also conceptualise happiness further. The benefit of focusing on well-being might also provide further knowledge of conditions that enable feelings of happiness to flourish. Happiness and well-being as concepts have distinct differences and similarities and they are hard to separate one from another. For example, exploring happiness through well-being and most importantly by focusing on what conditions generate well-being might offer some answers. Traditionally, wellbeing or quality of life (QoL) used to be measured in nations by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Happiness can be seen strongly linked with quality of life and well-being. Therefore,  exploring the measurable aspects of human well-being might offer some solid and comparable dimensions that can be measured.  But what are the measurable aspects of our well-being?

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