A concise and engaging exploration of how we understand happiness.
What does it mean to feel happiness? As a state of mind, it's elusive. As a concept—despite the plethora of pop psychology books on the subject—it's poorly understood. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, psychologist Tim Lomas offers a concise and engaging overview of our current understanding of happiness. Lomas explains that although the field of positive psychology, which focuses on happiness, emerged only in the last twenty-five years, interest in the meaning of happiness goes back several millennia. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, from philosophy and sociology to economics and anthropology, Lomas offers an expansive vision of what happiness means, exploring a significant range of experiential territory.
After considering such related concepts as wellbeing and flourishing, Lomas traces ideas of happiness from the ancient Buddhist notions of sukha and nirvana through Aristotle's distinction between hedonic and eudaemonic happiness to today's therapeutic and scientific approaches. He discusses current academic perspectives, looking at the breadth of happiness research across disciplines; examines the mechanics of happiness—the physiological, psychological, phenomenological, and sociocultural processes that make up happiness; explores the factors that influence happiness, both individual and social; and discusses the cultivation of happiness.