Recently, I came across this interesting paper – “A Psychologically Rich Life: Beyond Happiness and Meaning” published in the journal Psychological Review.
Yes, I know…
The paper explores new ground in the interesting question that is often asked – what is a good life? Psychological science uses the Aristotelian concepts, and the two forms currently accepted are a ‘happy’ (hedonic) life and a ‘virtuous’ (eudaimonic) life. The former focuses on feelings of positive affect and life satisfaction, whereas the latter places value on the sense of optimal functioning and realizing potential.
This new paper presents a third dimension – one of psychological richness – characterised by novel, complex, interesting and perspective-changing experiences. They channel Friedrich Nietzsche (1978) in Thus Spoke Zarathustra – he dismissed happiness and meaning, promoting the life of the wanderer instead.
According to the authors, people who are curious and think more holistically lead psychologically richer lives. The authors present evidence that although a majority of people wish to lead a happy life, they also say that undoing their life’s biggest regret would have made their lives psychologically richer.
The authors contend that although a lifetime of happiness gives rise to personal satisfaction, and a lifetime of a meaningful life to societal contribution, a lifetime of psychologically rich experiences gives rise to wisdom and an inclusive understanding of the good life.
They do go on to say that there may be more dimensions to a life worth living guided by
values (can be defined in a variety of ways), and finish by making the point that psychological richness, which brings curiosity, openness to experience, and willingness to defy the system, should join happiness and meaning as important components of well-being.
Click here in case your interest is piqued and you are interested in reading the full paper.