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Mindful : June 2018
happiness—things like greater positive affect and less negative affect—typical- ly fall in the hedonia camp. Eudaimonic pursuits, on the other hand, may not bring a lot of pleasure. In fact, activities and life focus that provide a sense of meaning often involve times of strug- gle and stress. So... how does this make you happy? Some scientists argue that the pursuit of meaning, self-growth, and alignment with something outside of yourself, while not always fun, leads to greater life satisfaction overall than the pursuit of pleasure alone. It may be better for your health, too. Studies have revealed a slew of health benefits from eudaimonic pursuits, such as volunteer- ing. A 2013 study found that people who derived their happiness by having a sense of meaning had a stronger immune profile; literally, their brand of happiness reaches down to their cells. They also are less reac- tive to stress, have higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, sleep better, and may experience less depression. Meanwhile, people who identify more with hedonic happiness show greater pro-inflammatory gene ex- pression, the kind common among people exposed to chronic stress or trauma. For all of these reasons, it might be easy to surmise that eudaimonia is the one true path to happiness. Yet some scientists warn against this kind of one-is- better thinking. Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia tells the Greater Good Science Center, “To say that there’s one pathway to meaning, and that it’s different than the pathway to pleasure, is false.” Fun, laughter, and enjoy- ment are all essential ele- ments of the life experience. And these effects are not experienced in a vacuum. In fact, Dunn and others point out, feeling positive emo- tions can help you connect more with others, broaden your attention, make your thinking more flexible, and increase your ability to see the big picture, all of which may contribute to seeing and aiming for greater meaning. Researcher Veronika Huta writes that each plays an important role in the cultivation of a good life. People who pursue a balance of both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness have “higher degrees of well-being than people who pursue only one or the other” with a higher degree of mental health, and expe- rience more well-rounded well-being. The consensus, she says, is that people need both hedonia and eu- daimonia to flourish. ● POSITIVE EMOTIONS CAN HELP YOU CONNECT MORE WITH OTHERS, BROADEN YOUR ATTENTION, MAKE YOUR THINKING MORE FLEXIBLE, AND INCREASE YOUR ABILITY TO SEE THE BIG PICTURE. Print $19.95 | ebook $16.99 Available wherever books are sold *Discount not available on eBook RENEW YOURSELF Plan a restorative getaway for you and your friends. Treat yourself with this practical guide offering mindful activities, rejuvenating recipes, and inspiring itineraries. SAVE 25% at PARALLAX.ORG* Use the discount code LONGWEEKEND 28 mindful June 2018 inner wisdom