Matilda Hytönen
Matilda Hytönen

People & Culture Team


Happiness—what is it really about? Throughout the history of mankind, we have been trying to define and search for happiness. Therefore, it is quite astounding that happiness is still such a confusing concept. Happiness, according to both researchers and common folk consists of a variety of factors and includes many complex elements. This makes it very hard to settle on one clear, unambiguous definition. However, according to some recent discussions on the topic, happiness can be divided into two different concepts: hedonistic happiness and eudaemonistic happiness.

Hedonistic happiness – a quick feeling of pleasure

Happiness can be experienced both short or long term. Happiness that results from an event, the environment, or from a specific activity is called hedonistic happiness. Our society is filled with sources of hedonistic happiness: the pleasure of food or intoxicants, watching your favorite TV show or the feeling when forming a new relationship. Often true happiness gets mixed up with this concept of pleasure, even though happiness is actually a much more permanent mental state. Happiness does not depend on pleasure experienced in a specific moment. Of course, feeling pleasure is also an important part of happiness, but it must not be confused with the overall state of happiness. Happiness should not be seen merely as hedonistic pleasure, but rather as self-realization, self-awareness, and finding one’s purpose.

Eudaemonistic happiness – a long-term mental state

The purpose or meaningfulness of one’s life is seen as more profound and significant than hedonistic happiness and is strongly linked to eudaemonistic well-being.

Eudaemonistic happiness is seen as a long-term state of mind. Eudaemony means finding meaning in everything one does. Thus, long-term happiness is based on the fact that the actions we take are meaningful to us. However, it does not mean we always feel pleasurable emotions when we are eudaemonistically happy. A happy person can also have bad days or be stressed out by life challenges, but a happy person can view these challenges in a realistic perspective.

” Happiness is like an umbrella – it protects from getting soaked but in the bigger storms you’re bound to get a bit wet.”

What really makes you happy?

The challenge of happiness is to find ways to meet higher level needs such as building self-esteem, creating connections with people, or self-actualization. Eudaemonistic happiness challenges people to ask difficult questions that are often easily avoided:  What am I really interested in? Who do I want to spend my time with? What brings purpose to my life? Happiness is the holistic satisfaction found within oneself in daily life when these higher needs have been satisfied.

We live in an instant happiness culture where happiness can be achieved when we decide to be happy. In reality this change requires a lot of effort. Our society focuses on external motivators and, above all, maximizing material wealth. It is easier to achieve hedonistic happiness and find external motivation through environmental stimuli than eudaemonic happiness, which can only be achieved internally. That is why it is so difficult for us to define what makes us happy or to understand what motivates us. However, investing time to find out what actually makes you happy is worth the effort. Happy people live longer, are healthier, more creative, more successful, and have a more realistic understanding of their own strengths and skills.

Organizations and happiness

Studies have shown a relationship between happiness, motivation, and high-quality work, which in turn has led many companies to invest in happiness. Happiness in the organization, however, is not only built on feelings of satisfaction, positive thinking, or through a pleasant collegial coexistence, but also through the achievement of success on both an individual and corporate level.

When happiness is at the heart of the company’s purpose it results in happier lives for both customers and employees. A happy organization also performs well economically, as employees’ actions support a positive customer experience and their satisfaction. Also, happy employees have very positive effects for a business: evidence shows that a happy employee is more productive and more motivated. The aim for organizations should thus not only be developing business, but also to create a happy working environment for its employees.

Therefore, one of the basic tasks of an organization is to improve the quality of life of its employees. Individual happiness at work is also influenced by one’s personality and cultural fit with the organization and their work as well as by the individual’s expectations, needs and preferences. Happiness in the workplace is affected by both short-term and long-term conditions related to specific tasks or to the whole organization. Thus, happiness in an organization is a complex, multidimensional matter. Searching for eudaemonistic happiness is a big challenge for both the individual and organizations, but definitely a challenge worth taking on.

What is happiness for me?

Having explored the complexities of eudaemonistic happiness, I have come to the conclusion that it is almost impossible to summarize happiness in only one sentence or concept. But let me try: my own happiness consists of meaningful work at Framery, having a caring family around me and other close relationships, and self-realization through my hobbies. At the same time, I must admit that hedonistic pleasures, such as traveling, good food and chilled white wine, also play a big role in my pursuit of happiness. What makes you happy?

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