Positive psychology recognizes happiness as a construct comprising hedonic and eudaimonic well-being dimensions. Integrating these components and a set of theory-led assumptions, we propose a mathematical model, given by a system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations, to describe the dynamics of a person’s happiness over time.
The mathematical model offers insights into the role of emotions for happiness and why we struggle to attain sustainable happiness and tread the hedonic treadmill oscillating around a relative stable level of well-being. The model also indicates that lasting happiness may be achievable by developing constant eudaimonic emotions or human altruistic qualities that overcome the limits of the homeostatic hedonic system; in mathematical terms, this process is expressed as distinct dynamical bifurcations.
This mathematical description is consistent with the idea that eudaimonic well-being is beyond the boundaries of hedonic homeostasis.
Happiness has captured the attention and aspirations of humankind throughout history. The reason seems quite simple; nobody wants to suffer and everyone wants to be happy. Despite this common wish for happiness, and arguably due to its subjective nature, happiness remains a concept difficult to define, measure and predict. Influenced by ancient Greek wisdom, positive psychology recognizes happiness as a construct comprising hedonic and eudaimonic well-being dimensions
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