The Three Types of Happiness

The Three Types of Happiness

I was reading a book this past week and there was an excerpt on the idea of happiness that I found very interesting. It is the idea that there are three types, three forms, of happiness, and that any time we feel happy, it is from one or a combination of these three.

1. The happiness of pleasure

2. The happiness of grace

3. The happiness of excellence

The happiness of pleasure refers to sensory experiences that bring us joy. A delicious meal fresh out of the oven, a glass of your favorite type of wine, a soft blanket in a warm bed, a hug from an old friend. The happiness of grace comes from gratitude and relationships, being thankful and at peace in your friendships and the bond you have with your family. The happiness of excellence comes from the joy of hard work that you are passionate about and fulfills you, be it a physical work like a long run, or mental work like solving a difficult puzzle, or career focused, putting in the hours and working towards a promotion etc.

Most happy moments are a combination. On a hike with a friend, the view is the happiness of pleasure, your friend is the happiness of grace, and the journey is the happiness of excellence.

We feel whole when we have all of these in balance.

Someone who only focuses on happiness of pleasure, say, maybe drinks too much, and starts skipping out on work and passion and distancing from their family. Someone who only focuses on happiness of excellence, maybe works very hard and makes a lot of money, but doesn't take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life or see their friends.

A happy life comes from a balance of the three.

I’m generally a very happy person, and I thought that this way of conceptualizing the forms that happiness takes was compelling. Over the next few months, I personally am going to focus on finding a balance, on making sure that I am prioritizing my time to find fulfillment in all three ways. Happiness means something different for everyone, but I know that I myself can benefit from thinking more deeply about the ways that I can maximize it in my own life.

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