I listened to an interview the other day with Dan Buettner. Dan is an author who recently wrote a book called the Blue Zones of Happiness. In the book, Dan studied the happiest countries in the world, and he tried to figure out whether there were principles he could pull from these countries to help us in our own quest for happiness.

Happiness Consists of 3 P’s

From his research, Dan concluded that happiness consists of 3 things. The 3 keys to happiness are easy to remember, because they all start with the letter “P”:

  1. Pride. The first key component of happiness is pride. When he uses the word pride, Dan doesn’t mean arrogance. Instead, Dan is talking about an overall sense of satisfaction with your life. When you look back on your life right now, do you feel a sense of pride about who you are and what you have done? Singapore was an example of a country with very high levels of pride and life satisfaction. In Singapore, there is a very clear definition about what it means to have a “good life” and there is also a very structured path a person can take to get there.
  2. Pleasure. The second key component of happiness is pleasure. Researchers get a sense of a person’s level of pleasure by asking them about their experiences and emotions over the past 24 hours. People high in pleasure report more positive experiences and fewer negative experiences, and also report higher levels of positive emotions and lower levels of negative emotions. Costa Rica was an example of a country with very high levels of pleasure. Costa Ricans even have a term for it—Pure Vida, which means “pure life.”
  3. Purpose. The third key component of happiness is purpose. Purpose asks whether people believe that they are engaging in meaningful pursuits on a daily basis. For example, do you find your job meaningful, or is it just a paycheck? Denmark was an example of a country with very high levels of purpose. Denmark is a country that is taxed heavily, but residents are also provided with many benefits such as free health care and free education. Because of the high level of taxes, Danes are less likely to pursue a job just because it makes more money. Instead, Danes are more likely to choose a job because it provides them with a sense of meaning and purpose.

Discussion: What do you think of the 3 key components of happiness? How would you rate your life on the following dimensions?

  1. Pride                                1 = very low pride, 10 = very high pride
  2. Pleasure                          1 = very low pleasure, 10 = very high pleasure
  3. Purpose                           1 = very low purpose, 10 = very high purpose

What is one thing you could change in your life to improve your pride, pleasure, or purpose?


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