Soothing and Stimulating
Defining happiness has been a more difficult task than defining pleasure. Well-being is a combination of pleasure and a sense of living life fully, but what is happiness? This question was posed to several authors who had written chapters in the definitive look at the neuroscience of pleasure, Pleasures of the Brain. While the authors could speak with authority about the neuroscience of pleasure, none of them could define happiness. It seems odd, since there is a robust and ongoing public discourse about being happy or unhappy. There is a clear understanding that there are happy experiences and happy people. Flow experiences produce great happiness. While pleasure is a temporary experience, happiness can be sustained over time.
Our own definition of happiness is that it is the state we achieve by establishing a balance between soothing and stimulating. This can be in the moment of an activity or lived over the course of one’s life. The key point is to experience all of life in this way. Regardless of the difficulty or pleasantness of an event, seek to balance soothing and stimulating while going through it.