What is Happiness & How to Get it: What are the Different Paths to Being Happy? Which One are You on?

In his book, The Nature of Happiness, Desmond Morris examines cultures, history and myths to discover the main types of happiness and those who pursue it. He lists 16 types of happiness that permeate our culture that range from controlled to reckless. Discovering the path that will deliver you the most happiness will make it easier to track down the experiences and people to maximize on this sensation.

The Nature of Happiness

Societal Happiness

There are four groups of happiness-seekers that are key players in culture’s society at large:

  • The Achiever
  • The Winner
  • The Helper
  • The Relative

The Achiever personality seeks Targeted Happiness, meaning that he or she sets goals, pursues them and then once achieved enjoys a rush of pleasure. The Winner type personality also focuses on goals, but in his/her case there has to be a rival who they bested in order to feel the pleasure rush of Competitive Happiness. The Helper types are focused on humanitarian goals and through assisting others achieve Cooperative Happiness. The Relative type is focused on relationships whether it is the love of their family, or the constant pursuit of falling in love, to achieve Genetic Happiness.

Spiritual Happiness

There are four types of happiness-seekers that tend to permeate the spiritual and religious circles more so than any other type:

  • The Hysteric
  • The Meditator
  • The Believer
  • The Sufferer

The Hysteric type, such as Einstein, knows too much to switch off the awareness of the troubles of the world and thus pursues Selective Happiness. The Meditator seeks to avoid the extremes of pleasure and suffering and enjoy “The Middle Way” as Buddha described, thus achieving Tranquil Happiness. The Believer blocks out analytical thought and focuses on blind faith to achieve Devout Happiness. The Sufferer type, such as Freud, believes that only by eliminating unhappiness can man be happy and thus they pursue Negative Happiness.

Artistic Happiness

Four types of happiness-seekers that help create the culture of our world:

  • The Intellectual
  • The Dancer
  • The Daydreamer
  • The Laugher

The Intellectual, such as Van Gogh, seeks knowledge and new answers to old problems as a means of achieving Cerebral Happiness. The Dancer gives up control to a follow a rhythm or beat in pursuit of Rhythmic Happiness. The Daydreamer uses escapism either by creating or admiring various artistic outlets in his or her pursuit of Fantasy Happiness. The Laugher chases the endorphin rush that comes with laughter in pursuit of Comic Happiness.

Darker Happiness

There are happiness-seekers who take less conventionally accepted means of achieving happiness:

  • The Risk-Taker
  • The Hedonist
  • The Drug-Taker
  • The Masochist

The Risk-Taker tends to crave the rush of having survived self-imposed threats usually through activities that range in danger from alligator-wrestling to rollercoaster riding in their pursuit of Dangerous Happiness. The Hedonist seeks pleasure at its purist often in food, drink and sex in his or her pursuit of Sensual Happiness. The Drug-Taker uses chemicals from coffee to cocaine depending on his or her desires to attain Chemical Happiness. The Masochist pursues his or her pleasure through self-denial whether this is in a puritanically extreme manner or simply by becoming a health fanatic in his or her pursuit of Painful Happiness.

Though most people will not fall solely under one category of happiness-seeker, understanding which focuses will bring you the greatest pleasure can help you to fine-tune the activities you choose and the people with whom you spend your time. As you better understand your personal sources of happiness, you will be better equipped to attain them.

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