I wrote on Monday about the Happiness & Its Causes conference, which took place in SF last week.
As it turns out, one of the featured speakers at the conference, former UCSF-psychologist Paul Ekman, has identified 16 different manifestations of happiness, including optimism, cheerfulness, euphoria, contentment, and even schadenfreude (which is German for basking in the pain of your enemies — and which may not be very nice but indeed can be pleasureable).
It strikes me that being aware of the different forms of happiness might make us more aware of just which kind of happiness we’re seeking. And it might do all of us well to bring a more discerning mind to the various states of unhappiness, too, including grief, boredom, fury, or jealousy.
Being aware of such emotions is a key part of emotional intelligence, after all, and it’s that awareness that helps us decide how to pursue activities/thoughts that help us cultivate happiness (think relaxation or a sense of achievement) and avoid those that trigger our unhappiness.
For more information on the conference, see this San Francisco Chronicle article from last week.
Next Up: Reviewing social intelligence.