I have written and linked to a lot of information about mindfulness on this blog and I am a big believer in mindfulness in all aspects of life. Carl Jung was a heavy-hitter, and his theories are a useful framework, but nothing works across the board for everyone. everyone must have their own spin to things and work in their own way and at their own pace.
Thinking about happiness in terms of “good health” is limited given that it is somewhat subjective and not all of us can–or want to–be married. But, I get where Jung, and Rubin, are coming from. Building and refining key elements are important for maintaining happiness.
By GRETCHEN RUBIN
I love reading Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist credited with being the developer of analytical psychology.
I especially enjoy his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His work is very challenging, however, so to get my Jung fix, I also read a bunch of interviews that he gave that were printed in the collection C.G. Jung Speaking. They are a fascinating read.
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 the five following 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 strongly 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? But 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?