The Debate about the Value of Happiness

Happiness is “in” these days.l And, I can understand why. If one accepts the definition of happiness developed by Czikszentmihalyi, (seeing meaning in what we experience) it is hard to argue against it. Who wants less meaning?

But not everyone is persuaded that this is the right definition. André Spicer and Carl Cederström follow a different path of argument. For them, happiness is a positive emotional reaction to our surroundings. And they argue that trying to be positive all the time has its downsides.

They are right. But they also miss the point. Happiness is not about feeling positive no matter what. It is about getting more deeply engaged in what we want to do over time. Csikszentmihalyi was quite clear on this. It is less about a forced positive smiley face than about finding the strength to rise above whatever life throws at you.

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