Chapter 1

The State of Wellbeing Science

Concepts, Measures, Interventions, and Policies

Felicia A. Huppert

University of Cambridge, U.K. and Centre for Positive Psychology and Education University of Western Sydney, Australia

What is Wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a fundamental human goal—we all have a desire for our life to go well. The experience of life going well involves both feeling good and functioning well. Feeling good all the time would not be conducive to wellbeing, as it would devalue the role of negative or painful emotions, which play an important part in our lives when experienced in the appropriate context, such as sadness following misfortune, and distress or even anger following injustice. Some scholars define wellbeing in terms of positive emotions alone (e.g., Layard, 2005, 2011) or the balance of positive to negative emotions (e.g., Kahneman & Krueger, 2006). However, emotional experiences or “hedonic” wellbeing are only part of wellbeing, since emotions are by their nature transient, whereas wellbeing refers to a more sustainable experience. Sustainable wellbeing includes the experience of functioning well, for instance, having a sense of engagement and competence, being resilient in the face of setbacks, having good relationships with others, and a sense of belonging and contributing to a community. The functioning component of wellbeing is similar to Aristotle's notion of eudaimonic wellbeing, and a number of scholars have equated psychological wellbeing with ...

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