Sometimes, it’s all about the basics, isn’t it? Here are a few definitions for you think about.


Martin Seligman, one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness, describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life.

When you’re “engaged,” you’ve got:

  • good, supportive, friends instead of ones who bring you down;
  • intimate relationships that are mutually nurturing and equally satisfying;
  • decent work that’s fulfilling most of the time;
  • creative or physically fun stuff you do more than once a year.

(from my e-book Happiness & Mindfulness: A Light-Hearted Guide)

Another happiness definition comes from Dolly Parton: “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”


Mindfulness is an experience. It’s a way of thinking about not thinking.

It’s confusing to talk about it.

It really isn’t a “talking about it” thing. You need to learn how to do it, to practice mindfulness, or mindful awareness.

Here are some definitions of mindfulness.

  • ” … the nonjudgmental awareness of the thoughts and feelings drifting through one’s mind.” from a New York Times article
  • ” … the nuanced, subtle quality of how you use your mind to pay attention,” from my e-book Happiness & Mindfulness: A Light-Hearted Guide.
  • “Mindfulness is a skill that gives you the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again … .” (Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), by Chade-Meng Tan (aka the “Google guy”)
  • “Mindfulness involves the skillful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds … .” (Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom, by Rick Hanson, PhD and Richard Mendius, MD)
  • “Being mindful simply means having good control over your attention: you can place your attention where you want and it stays there; when you want to shift it to something else, you can.” (ibid)
The Mindfulness and Happiness Connection

“Mindfulness can make you happier.” George Stephanopoulos, in 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – a True Story, by Dan Harris (a terrific book, by the way).

Emotional Intelligence

Chade-Meng Tan (the “Google guy”), in Search Inside Yourself, writes that “the best definition of emotional intelligence comes from the two men widely regarded as the fathers of its theoretical framework, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. They define emotional intelligence as:

The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”