Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“Ben-Shahar's Happiness Model” - Professor M.S.Rao

Due to the rapid growth in technology people are often in the rat race to compete with others little realizing that they are losing so much or so little. People often search for stones by leaving gems at home. People often think that they will be happy at a later stage if they work hard today. However, there is no guarantee about happiness at later stage. In this context, I would like to discuss about Ben-Shahar’s Happiness Model which is thought provoking for the busy people to take a look at and find meaning for their lives.

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is an author of several books and specialist in “Positive Psychology." He is the author of various books such as The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. He has designed a Happiness Model which is also known as "The Hamburger Model". It contains four quadrants representing Nihilism, Hedonism, Rat Race and Happiness. Here is the information taken from his book ‘Happier’ to bring awareness about this model for the benefit of readers.

Ben-Shahar's Happiness Model

Nihilism: Nihilism falls in the bottom left hand quadrant of the Happiness Model. Nihilists are people who have given up hope of finding meaning in life. They don't enjoy any present happiness, nor do they have any sense of purpose or hope for the future. As a result, they're "resigned to their fate."

Hedonism: Hedonism falls in the lower right hand quadrant of the model. Hedonists focus on present happiness only, and give little thought to future consequences. They may think that "working hard" is painful and tedious, and may avoid this. As a result, hedonists feel unchallenged, and are often unfulfilled.

Rat Race: The Rat Race falls in the upper left hand quadrant of the model. In the Rat Race, we detrimentally put off present happiness in the hope of some future benefit. This archetype is likely the most familiar to many of us. Here, people constantly pursue goals that they think will make them happy. When those goals are achieved, however, a new goal almost immediately takes its place. While Rat Racers may experience brief flashes of satisfaction when they achieve goals, any thought of present happiness is then quickly pushed to the side.

Happiness: The Happiness archetype falls in the upper right quadrant of the model. This archetype reflects a good balance between present happiness and future benefits.

Precisely, the Happiness Model defines four happiness archetypes as follows:
1. Nihilism - Nihilists have lost the joy in life. They derive no present pleasure in their work or life, and expect no future benefits or rewards. They've "given up."
2. Hedonism - Hedonists live for the moment. They pursue pleasure and an easy life, and give little or no thought to future consequences and plans.
3. Rat Racing - The Rat Race archetype often sacrifices current pleasures and benefits in anticipation of some future reward.
4. Happiness - True happiness is achieved when there is a perfect balance between present pleasure and future benefits.

Current Global Scenario

It is rightly said that a young person looks at the future; the middle aged person looks at the present while the old aged person looks at the past. However, in the cut-throat competitive world young, middle aged and the old are running behind something for which they don’t have any clarity.

The present position is such that parents don’t have time to spend with their children. As a result, children find emotional gaps and search elsewhere for the same. Sometimes the crimes shoot up among the children and teenagers as parents don’t find time to guide and groom them. Old people are uncared by children as the latter are busy with their survival and success.

We are living in a competitive world where people often intend to outsmart others without realizing any meaning to life. God gave us life. We must learn to make use of the most by striking balance between pressure and pleasure, between rapidity and slowness. Otherwise there is no meaning to life.

Is Happiness a Hope or Hype?

Happiness is a state of mind. It comes in any way such as through wealth, knowledge, power, prestige or love. However, it depends on the priority of the person. People often think that happiness is an end but the fact is that happiness is a means. People struggle and sacrifice throughout their life journey for thinking about destination of happiness. In fact, true happiness lies in journey, not in destination.

It is essential to strike the balance between today and tomorrow. There are number of books that have come up learning to live in present than getting bogged down about past and overanxious about future. Hence, let us learn to live in present rather being worried about the past that cannot be changed and over concerned about future that can not be predicted. Learn to strike balance between the past, present and future and also between the pressure and pleasure to find meaning to your life.


Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar’s book Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (2007)

Note: Few portions of the model have been taken from the book to bring awareness among the readers.

Professor M.S.Rao
Founder and Chief Consultant,
MSR Leadership Consultants, India
Blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com
Where Knowledge is Wealth
Email: profmsr7@gmail.com

Dear readers,

I would appreciate your comments about this article.

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Ashwin Setlur said...

We all belong to the quadrant of Ratracers who often sacrifices current pleasures and benefits in anticipation of some future reward. Our aim should be to fall in the Happiness Quadrant to strike a balance between benefits and happiness.

Dr. Kavitha Reddy said...

I have never heard about this model. Thanks Professor

Anonymous said...

Dear Professor,

Although I dispute some minor facts, your overall message is to my experience correct and validated in the lives of many.

Unfortunately many who work on this topic (motivational speakers) are salespeople, and dont acknowledge criticism of their theories. I will share with you my response to Ben-Sahar in the hopes that my efforts are useful to others:

I accept many of Sahar's ideas, but disagree with the form of Sahar's model.
From a practical perspective, most people intrinsically recognise that happiness can be achieved through "eudemonia", or a balance in experiencing a little of everything in what we do. This seems to be the Sahar's assertion but is not reinforced by their model. If it were, happiness would be central – not opposed – to these other choices.
One can be balanced in the pursuit of pleasure (pure Hedonism), deferred gratification (here equivocated as "rat race"), and by recognising that ultimately our failures are largely meaningless (Nihilism - the definition of which is weasel-wordy). We can then gain greater contentment though the self-assurance that experiencing these will provide, as long as we can accept our mistakes in judgement when over or under applying them, and move forward by learn from the experience.
But Sahar’s model, perhaps through corporate convenience, ignores entirely notable avenues to happiness such as the greater fulfilment that can be achieved by helping others to improve their lot; particularly when such acts are selfless. And this is only one of a few possibilities ignored in such an overly simplistic representation.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Andro "Great Teacher of the West"