Hedonic Well-being – What is it?

In a recent podcast recording my guest spoke about hedonic well-being. Since I didn’t know too much about it, I thought I research it and clarify it in a post for anyone who is interested.

It seems that well being has been derived from two general perspectives, extrinsic and intrinsic.

One is the hedonic, more extrinsic, approach. This approach focuses on happiness and pleasure attainment, pain avoidance. So moving towards pleasure and happiness, moving away from pain. That makes a lot of sense to me, and would probably make sense to most people.

Hedonic motivation

However, there is a eudaemonic or eudaimonic, a more intrinsic approach, too. This is about self-realisation and well-being is defined by the degree to which a person is fully functioning.

Positive Psychology has a great article summarising what eudaemonic well-being means. It first was mentioned by Aristotle who thought that true happiness is found by leading a virtuous life and doing what is worth doing; realising human potential is the ultimate human goal. Stoics play a role here, who stressed the value of self-discipline, others argue that happiness is pursued through prudence.

For me, most of the time, happiness comes down to your own definition. Similar to success. Success can mean happiness, but most podcast guests argue it’s not the same. A philosophical rather than a psychological question I suppose.

As an executive and productivity coach I often use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or the six human needs by Tony Robbins to look at happiness, fulfilment and level of need fulfilment. If you are not familiar with the models, or need further info, feel free to give me a shout. They are simple, yet powerful frameworks to use in order to establish one’s motivation.

Also the hedonic approach is based on some simple motivational directions I learned during my NLP Master-Practitioner: moving away from something or moving towards to something. A vision pulls you, and therefore has usually a stronger, more positive motivation, than something you don’t like. Yet fear is also known as motivator, mainly to move away from.