Positive psychology differentiates between two faces of happiness. One is the hedonistic type of happiness, rooted in the satisfaction of various physical needs, and the other is the eudemonic type of happiness, generated by our involvement in various activities.
We experience hedonistic happiness when some bodily or other psychological need is satisfied. For instance, when we have had a substantial and delicious dinner or achieved one of our goals.
Eudemonic happiness is brought about by activities in which we are fully involved, and we enjoy the positive experience of making use of our abilities to the limits. Psychologists have observed that artists, while creating a piece of art, behave as if they were in some sort of trance. They are so deeply engaged by the process of creation that they completely forget about the external world. Thus eudemonic happiness is, however, something that not only artists are able to experience, but any of us during any ordinary activity if we feel really fine during that. Eudemonic happiness is therefore not dependent on the nature of the activity, only on its quality. In that process the experience and joy of creation appear, as well as glory, desire and the sense of complete involvement.
The Happiness of the Present Moment
When we examine the two faces of happiness in the light of the Consciousness, we may discover considerable differences between the two.
The road leading to hedonic happiness always requires an effort from us. The aim of the effort is to achieve a specific state some time in the future. Only if our efforts are successful, and we have achieved our goal, are we happy. This sense of happiness, however, is always contaminated by a fear of losing that happiness. It diverts our attention from the Miracle, the opportunity that we are offered at that specific moment. Our attention is thus diverted from the present to the past or future again.
Eudemonic happiness is–as opposed to hedonic happiness–not subject to achieving a set goal. We experience it during the very activity, while we are proceeding towards our goal.
In the process we are outside psychological time, we exclusively focus on the activity concerned, which is the only thing that exists for us. The Miracle appears in our life, the sense of isolation vanishes, we unite with what we are actually doing. The Ego almost entirely disappears or is pushed to the background, and in the space that becomes free in this way the Miracle emerges, and the joy of existence shines out of the reality of our Self.
The mind immediately wants to bring that Miracle under its own control, it wants to possess the Miracle. In this way, the work of the mind drags us away from the Miracle, hiding it behind a thick shroud of thoughts. But there remains an unconscious, profound longing for the Miracle we have experienced, and this desire spurs us to seek the Miracle again.