On the pages of this website, happiness is often equated with subjective wellbeing and the two labels used interchangeably. Additionally, we quote leading scholars who claim that in order to be happy we need two things: positive emotions and a sense that our life is meaningful. The above statements give us our working definition of happiness:
Happiness is a subjective experience of wellbeing brought about by positive emotions and the sense that one’s life has a purpose. (Both requirements are subject to cultural influences, but especially the second one. While most of us know what makes us feel good, the path to meaning/purpose is a lot more complex and potentially more susceptible to socio-cultural values and beliefs.)
This definition is just one of many. For a brief (critical) overview of contemporary theories of happiness see Martin E.P. Seligman and Ed Royzman’s “The Three Traditional Theories/Authentic Happiness,” at http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu.
For historical perspectives on happiness, visit https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/
Darrin McMahon’s, Happiness: A History, is another good source.