After years of rigorous happiness research, Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, shares his complete vision of a happy life. The best part is, these dimensions can be trained and cultivated with conscious effort.
A Pursuit of Happiness article explains Seligman’s three dimensions of happiness: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, and The Meaningful Life. These three dimensions work in a stage like way, with each stage laying the foundations for the next. “The Pleasant Life is realized if we learn to savor and appreciate such basic pleasures as companionship, the natural environment, and our bodily needs,” Seligman writes. The Pleasant Life is based on entertainment and sensory enjoyment which should be embraced, but not in excess. It is about simply having fun and enjoying one’s time. The next stage is the Good Life, which is “achieved through discovering our unique virtues and strengths, and employing them creatively to enhance our lives.”
The Good Life is an individualistic stage of building our powers and capacities and experiencing the enhanced self-esteem and satisfaction that comes with that. Finally, Meaningful Life is about using the powers that we built in The Good Life for altruistic purposes. Seligman communicates that in the Meaningful Life “we find a deep sense of fulfillment by employing our unique strengths for a purpose greater than ourselves.” The Meaningful
Life is a giving stage that is integrated with the previous “selfish” developmental stages. In this dimension, we are focused on selflessly providing for and helping others.
For a full life, we ought to balance and cultivating all three dimensions of happiness: The Pleasant, The Good, and The Meaningful. Which dimension of happiness most resonates with you?