Happiness By Design

In my exploration on Retirement Transition, I found myself delving into positive psychology.  Positive psychology is the science behind happiness. I have always lived under the premise of something will happen by design or by default. You can either plan for it and design it, or it will just happen. Either way, you will live with it. So if I wanted happiness to be part of my future life, I needed to think about designing in happiness to my life plan.

It was very exciting to me to see that happiness was linked to aspects of self-reflection that were encouraged in retirement transitioning. Almost every retirement book encourages you to understand your values and strengths.

Happiness theory indicates that when activities we engage in are connected to our interests, they provide a Level 1 kind of happiness – a feeling of pleasure, fun and enjoyment. These fun activities are secure and comfortable, help us simply enjoy life and spend time with others in pleasurable ways.

When activities we engage in are also connected to our strengths, skills or talents then they provide a higher degree of happiness, a Level 2 intensity of happiness. Using our strengths in a personally rewarding way creates feelings of engagement, involvement, challenge and accomplishment and raises the happiness level.

Level 3 happiness is when activities we engage in are also linked to our core values and help us feel part of something bigger. This higher intensity of happiness is often called life meaning, purpose or fulfillment.

This happiness by design approach is helping me to chose the activities and pursuits to fill my calendar. There are so many things I could do. I am choosing to try things that not only link to my interests, but also utilize my strengths and reflect my values.

7 thoughts on “Happiness By Design

  1. Interesting post! I consider myself generally positive and happy, but I hadn’t thought about these different levels of intensity. Although it would be difficult (and maybe not a good idea anyway) to always strive for level 3, I can see where activities that play to ones strengths and values would be the most fulfilling and therefore contribute to overall happiness.


    1. I don’t think I will drive for level 3 in everything, but as I look at all the possibilities, it seems to be helping me create the right “life portfolio”. Some things are fine to just have FUN!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this post. This is a great tool for deciding how to spend our time and energy. Great food for thought.


  3. Are you familiar with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey particularly Chapter 7 entitled Sharpen the Saw? He discusses what he calls the Four Dimensions of Renewal. I am 100% using this as my resource as I build my new life. So, not only seeking level 3 happiness activities but now researching how I can nurture all aspects of my being at this level 3. Currently, Spiritual is being enacted with my knitting, Mental, with my reading and writing (that is part why it is the ‘work of today’), Physical is being addressed along the lines of the ‘toys’ I have recently discussed, and that is where I am at this point.


    1. Holly, yes, that is one of the (many) books I read. I had never read it before although it was very popular years back. It was quite amazing to me how many of his concepts and words are just part of our “culture” today! (e.g. Urgent versus Important, positive affirmations, investing in relationships to establish emotional trust Bank-account) The most interesting newer concept for me was to think about various “centers of your life” today and how that manifests itself in habits/behaviors.

      I’ve considered his 4 dimensions as well as how other authors break down life into components and have come up with 7 domains that seem to be working for my planning: Finances/Prosperity; Health & Wellbeing; Relationships/Connections; Volunteerism/Community; Work/Career; Leisure/Hobby, and Location/Lifestyle. I’m hoping to expand on this thinking in a future blog.

      Thanks for sharing the book. I am a researcher, so if I had not read it, it would have gone on my list!


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