Happiness or wellbeing?

Are you well? Are you happy? Can you be one without the other? And what is the difference anyway?

Kahneman and Riis explain that our sense of happiness is affected by two factors: how positive we feel right now (‘experienced’ happiness) and how positive we feel our life has been overall (‘evaluated’ happiness).

Wellbeing is more complex. It is a concept that incorporates happiness but also involves our perceived ability to function successfully in the world. How much control do you feel in life? How much meaning do you derive from life? How much do you feel that what you are doing matters?

Wellbeing is about good feeling and good function. This is why Positive Education and Positive Psychology are, ultimately, focussed on developing wellbeing.

But don’t dismiss happiness itself. Remember that happiness, in its own right, is linked to better health, greater productivity, reduced depression, stronger relationships, and even longer lifespan.

It’s no accident that the UAE’s Ohood Al Roumi is the world’s first Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing.

Happiness and wellbeing are distinct concepts that are tightly connected. Happiness matters. Wellbeing matters. We need to nurture both in ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Published by

David Bott

Hi, I'm David Bott, Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education in Australia.

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