I love reading Carl Jung, especially his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His work is very challenging, however, so to get a Jung fix, I read a bunch of interviews that he gave, which were printed in the collection, C.G. Jung Speaking.
In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Jung, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung answered with five elements:
1. Good physical and mental health.
2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.
Jung, always mindful of paradox, added, “All factors which are generally assumed to make for happiness can, under certain circumstances, produce the contrary. No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness.”
I did disagree with Jung on one point. He said, “The more you deliberately seek happiness the more sure you are not to find it.” I know, Carl Jung vs. Gretchen Rubin, who is the authority? Though many great minds, such as John Stuart Mill, make the same point as Jung, I don’t agree.
For me, at least, the more mindful I am about happiness, the happier I become. Take Jung’s five factors. By deliberately seeking to strengthen those elements of my life, I make myself happier.
What do you think of Jung’s list? Would you add anything else, or characterize any element differently? And do you think it’s helpful to think about happiness directly, or not?
* Count down to March 1! If The Happiness Project can hang onto the New York Times list for eight more days, it will have been there for a solid year. Yes! One year. Amazing. So, if you’re thinking about buying the book, go right ahead. Order your copy.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. Gretchen is also on Facebook and Twitter.February 27, 2012