Happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.
‘Happiness’ is the subject of debate on usage and meaning, and on possible differences in understanding by culture.
The word is used in several related areas:
- current experience, including (a) the feeling of an emotion (affect) such as pleasure or joy, or (b) a more general sense of ’emotional condition as a whole’. For instance Daniel Kahneman has defined happiness as “what I experience here and now“. This usage is prevalent in dictionary definitions of happiness.
- appraisal of life satisfaction, such as of quality of life. For instance Ruut Veenhoven has defined happiness as “overall appreciation of one’s life as-a-whole.“
- subjective well-being, which includes measures of affect and of life satisfaction. For instance Sonja Lyubomirsky has described happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
- eudaimonia, which is sometimes translated as flourishing.
These uses can give different results. For instance the correlation of income levels has been shown to be substantial with life satisfaction measures, but to be far weaker, at least above a certain threshold, with affect measures.