“No medicine cures what happiness cannot

Gabriel García Márquez

FIERCELY AWARE: The Science: 1.2.2

Happy and Well

Likely propelled by the issues discussed in Section One, there has been an explosion of interest in happiness in the last ten years. Many extraordinary researchers, including Tal Ben-Shahar, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Ed Diener have shaped this growing field of knowledge.

Ben-Shahar defines happiness as “the overall experience of pleasure and meaning” and in The How of Happiness, Lyubomirsky describes a metanalysis of scientific studies that indicate what happens when people are happy.  The analysis reveals happy people are more productive and creative, make more money, have healthier relationships, make better leaders, are more likely to get married, have more friends and social support, and are healthier.  And that the order of events is not as expected…happiness comes first.



The interest in happiness is a world-wide phenomenon. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai recognizes the critical importance of happiness.  At His Highness’s invitation, 500 global thought leaders gathered in Dubai for the second Global Dialogue on Happiness last year.   Discussions focused on the science, policies, practices, scaling, and the future of happiness and well-being.  Among an extraordinary array of expert presentations, Bambang Brojonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning introduced Indonesia’s Happiness Pyramid  and cited research by Li Lu (2008) that happy countries grow faster.

Similar to happiness, the interest in well-being has sky-rocketed in recent years.

In his book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman, commonly regarded as the founder of positive psychology, details his model of well-being as comprised of five pillars as follows below.

      • Positive Emotion (P)
        Positive emotions such as those described in Frederickson’s work above fall into this category and the message is that it’s vital to seek these out in conjunction with the other pillars below.
      • Engagement (E)
        This pillar is the experience of being completely immersed in what you are doing. It is what Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi has identified as “Flow.”
      • Positive Relationships (R)
        This pillar is as straight forward as it sounds. Meaningful relationships are critical to flourishing.
      • Meaning (M)
        Meaning pertains to the idea that there is something bigger than us and our personal interests.
      • Accomplishment/Achievement (A)
        This pillar speaks to our longing to better ourselves in ways that matter to us – for example, increasing our skill, achieving a goal, or winning a new client.

We all want increased happiness and well-being but as with positivity, discussed earlier, the question is how?  Our work at Mayerson Academy and the research of experts around the world has shown that the science of character strengths and virtues is one of the most, if not the most, powerful building block for developing positivity, happiness, and wellbeing.  Here is a little more on character strengths.