Three Levels of Happiness


There are three levels of happiness.

The first level is reached through pleasure. We eat, drink, or experience something that feels good and we’re rewarded with dopamine.

This level of happiness is CHEMICAL.

The second level is reached through narrative. We look at our job, our achievements (or perceived lack thereof), our family life…and we tell ourselves a story about it all. A story of how great it is, or how awful it is, how lucky we are, or how unlucky we are. The story we come up with here largely determines whether or not we are, at the end of the day, satisfied with our life.

This level of happiness is COGNITIVE.

The third level is reached through mindfulness. We’ve broken the dopamine addiction and we’ve put down the narrative crutch. We find that we’re able to simply rest in whatever is here in front of us. We’ve reached a place where there is nothing to add and nothing to subtract. Everything in and around us is perfect just the way it is.

This level of happiness is SPIRITUAL.

The next time you ask someone if they’re happy or not, listen to their response and see if you can hear one or several of these levels.

You might start by asking yourself.

Am I happy?

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

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