The Happiness Model was developed by Harvard professor, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, and published in his book, "Happier."
The Happiness Model defines four happiness archetypes. These are:
1. Nihilism – Nihilists are people who have given up hope of finding meaning in life. Nihilists don't enjoy any present happiness, nor do they have any sense of purpose or hope for the future. As a result, they're "resigned to their fate."
2. Hedonism - Hedonists live for the moment. They pursue pleasure and an easy life, and give little or no thought to future consequences and plans. They may think that "working hard" is painful and tedious, and may avoid this.
3. Rat Racing - The Rat Race archetype often sacrifices current pleasures and benefits in anticipation of some future reward. This archetype is likely the most familiar to many of us. Here, people constantly pursue goals that they think will make them happy. When those goals are achieved, however, a new goal (and the accompanying stress and anxiety) almost immediately takes its place. While Rat Racers may experience brief flashes of satisfaction when they achieve goals, any thought of present happiness is then quickly pushed to the side.
4. Happiness - True happiness is achieved when there is a perfect balance between present pleasure and future benefits.
According to Ben-Shahar, we achieve happiness when we're able to enjoy both the journey and the destination that we're moving towards. We've learned how to set goals that are meaningful, but we don't focus exclusively on achieving them at the expense of everything else. We focus on today's pleasures, as well as on our dreams and goals.
We can use the Happiness Model to shed light on the life we're living now, and the life that we wish we were living. The power to change always lies within us J
Using the ModelDr. Ben-Shahar says that it's impossible for us to feel constantly happy, all of the time. Sometimes, we do have to put off present happiness for important future gains; for instance, when we have to stay late at work to finish an important project.It's also sometimes important to focus on present pleasures, as a hedonist does. For instance, lying on the beach or watching TV can not only rest and rejuvenate us, but these pleasurable activities can also bring happiness into our life.The point, however, is to spend as much time as possible engaged in activities that give us both present and future benefits.What's most useful about the Happiness Model is that it can be used as a window into our life. For instance, look at the four quadrants. Where do you spend the majority of your time? Are you living a Rat Race life, pursuing future goals at the expense of your present happiness? Or are you living more as a Hedonist, avoiding challenging goals in order to pursue daily pleasures, with no thought to future growth or development?Or, do you feel that you've achieved happiness? Are you taking pleasure in today, as well as focusing your efforts on pursuing longer-term goals?We can use the Happiness Model to assess where we are in our current life. If we're not in the right quadrant of the model, we can start today making changes that will create more balance in our life.