I’m a great admirer of positive psychology, which has been a fantastic corrective to the traditional ‘disease model’ of psychology and has provided an extremely helpful examination of the different factors which constitute human well-being. However, I think there is one important aspect of human well-being which positive psychology has largely ignored.
Positive psychologists have suggested that there are two main types of well-being: hedonic and eudaimonic. Hedonic well-being means feeling good in the present moment, and includes physical pleasure, peak experiences and a sense of gratitude or appreciation. Eudaiomonic well-being is more long term – it includes a sense of meaning and purpose, of being connected to something larger, and of flourishing through creativity or self-development. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model offers a similar perspective. According to this model, the five main elements of a life of flourishing and well-being are positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.