The Overlooked Type of Happiness
With the New Year upon us, there is always an emphasis on the word “Happy”. In recent years, the framework of the positive psychologists, led by Martin Seligman, has dominated the discourse about it. I think that a little self reflection will reveal that their two types of happiness, hedonistic and eudemonic, are an incomplete list.
There is a third type, intentional happiness, which can be learned by repetitive practice, originating totally from within yourself. We know that many things can be learned by old fashioned rote practice, so why shouldn’t we be able to increase our happiness level by the same method? One of the main reasons is that there aren’t many courses designed to directly train this important skill. Another reason is the lack of objective indicators of our degree of success in those courses. This is why our Neureka! brainwave biofeedback and the Happi Focus Trainer course are important developments. Students can learn quickly and monitor their progress from moment to moment.
We should be teaching our youngsters to create happiness from within themselves as part of their early education. Once learned, it is far easier to access regularly than depending on the hedonistic happiness produced by toys, games, cars, alcohol or drug abuse, or social interaction, which are not always available or successful. Disappointing outcomes are frequent with each of them. I share the reservations of many people about overdoing our dependence on outside sources of hedonistic happiness, and its consequences for our planet. The feeling of eudemonic happiness produced by living a good life takes many years to develop, and requires a mental framework of chosen or learned values. However, I have no doubt that it is very valuable to individuals and society.
Intentional happiness can be taught to young children and it will gradually diminish their dependence on hedonistic happiness. After using brainwave biofeedback in their initial stages of learning, the need for this training system decreases with greater mastery, and the skill can be reinforced with brief “happiness breaks” in a regular classroom. Our research indicates that maintaining this happiness after each break will also increase their memory and widescreen attention, since all three are linked to a basic brain system for handling new discoveries, which we call Neureka!, the “event binding rhythm”, operating at a gamma EEG frequency, near 40 Hz. Adding the training of single-pointed Focus to the Happi Focus Trainer makes it even more of an academic win-win.
Teaching intentional happiness at work will produce a happier workplace, and research has shown that greater happiness levels lead to greater success and better long-term health. There is probably a substantial Return on Investment which needs to be evaluated by some trial programs.
So when you think about having a Happy New Year, what types of happiness do you wish to experience? Is it valuable to be able to add intentional happiness to the blend?
To your year-long happiness,
Dr. Jon Cowan
Peak Achievement Training