I take the terms happiness, utility, well-being, life satisfaction, and welfare to be interchangeable… Richard Ainley Easterlin, 2003
The feeder streams of happiness include:
Sense of control: you can actually change a situation
Sense of purpose: there are things you want to achieve
Self-efficacy: you're pretty confident you can do what's needed to get closer to your goals
Sense of progress: you are moving forward and getting closer to your goals
Social inclusion: other people care about you
Social intimacy: somebody really cares about you
Family: there are people with whom you feel deeply connected and will make sacrifices for
Social reciprocity: you are part of a web of deep caring and commitment
Social status: some people look up to you
Positive social comparison: at least you’re doing better than…
Health: you don't feel like shit
Predictability: you’re pretty sure the world will be much the same tomorrow
Safety: you don’t have to look around your shoulder all the time
Security: you can relax – eternal vigilance not required
Challenge: the reward is often in the overcoming
None of this is to imply that happiness is the be-all end-all. Or that more happiness is always better than less happiness. There are a lot of other things to care about than how we’re feeling at any given time.
Note: This is a modified version of a prior post: Happiness and Its Feeder Streams.
Argyleand, M. & Martin, M. (1991) The psychological causes of happiness. Chapter 5 in Subjective well-being: an interdisciplinary perspective Fritz Strack, Michael Argyle, Norbert Schwarz (Eds.) Oxford: Pergamon Press, 77-100.
Diener, E. & Suh, E. (1997). Measuring quality of life: Economic, social, and subjective indicators. Social Indicators Research, 40, 189–216.
Easterlin, R. A. (2003). "Explaining happiness." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(19): 11176-11183.