Happiness is a complex topic. And what makes it even more so is when some researchers claim that there are in fact two types of happiness – hedonic and eudaimonic.

Hedonic happiness refers to the single minded pursuit of in-the-moment pleasure. Hedonism aims for a presence of positive emotions and a higher sense of life satisfaction. It refers to doing things that will bring us instant gratification such as having fun with friends, eating food, buying something new etc. Yet, such external stimuli will only provide some enjoyment for a short period of time. And not long after, what tends to happen is that person returns to their usual level of happiness. The ‘shiny and new’ feelings dissipate and the person is left looking for something to make them feel happy again. Needless to say, this type of happiness will not achieve the longer lasting type often sought.

So what will?

Eudaimonism differs from its counterpart in that it aims to achieve intangible outcomes such as pursuing your purpose in life or the cultivation of a positive mindset. It stems from ‘daimon’ meaning true nature, and refers to living life in a meaningful and deeply satisfying way. According to Aristotle, eudaimonic happiness aspires to “the actualisation of human potential”. It is about challenging one’s self, achieving personal growth or contributing to something or somebody that is bigger than you are. Given this aligns to some of the wellbeing frameworks out there including PERMA, we can assume that striving to eudaimonism is more likely to achieve happiness over the long term.

So which is best?

There is a natural tendency for people to lean towards one type of happiness over the other. And neither is right or wrong. In her vlog on this particular topic, Ilona Boniwell looks at the two, and provides the example of staying up all night to complete a project to demonstrate the variances between each.

What’s important to know is that these different types of happiness are not mutually exclusive, and it is best to have a combination of both to achieve a greater level of happiness.

So just as yin and yang describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary to one another, the same could be said for hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Both are just as worthy as each other and when combined, they are a force to be reckoned with!