Find your Definition of Happiness

Happiness is a complex and multifaceted emotion that psychologists have studied for decades. One of the most important distinctions in positive psychology is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic happiness.

Intrinsic happiness refers to the joy and satisfaction that comes from within oneself. It is often derived from engaging in personally meaningful activities or aligning with one’s values and beliefs. Intrinsic happiness is less concerned with external rewards or validation and is more focused on internal fulfilment and a sense of purpose.

Extrinsic happiness, on the other hand, is based on external factors such as social status, wealth, and material possessions. It is often driven by the desire for approval or recognition from others and is associated with temporary bursts of pleasure or gratification.

It is worth noting that intrinsic and extrinsic happiness are not mutually exclusive, and many individuals may experience varying degrees of happiness. For example, an individual may find great joy in spending time with their family (an intrinsic factor) but may also derive a sense of happiness from receiving a promotion at work or buying a new car (extrinsic factors).

While both intrinsic and extrinsic happiness is important, research suggests that those who prioritise intrinsic happiness tend to be more satisfied and content with their lives overall. Intrinsic happiness is also more sustainable and less dependent on external factors beyond our control.

So, what does happiness mean to you? Reflecting on your personal definition of happiness can help you cultivate a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Understanding the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic factors can help you identify what truly brings you joy and fulfilment and cultivate a more sustainable and satisfying sense of happiness.

My motivating question for you is: What does happiness mean to you? How do you cultivate a sense of happiness in your daily life?

By Phillipa Brown

MeHelp Psychologist & Founder