Peak experience is a term used to describe certain transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness. Participants characterize these experiences, and the revelations imparted therein, as possessing an ineffably mystical quality or essence.
They usually come on suddenly and are often inspired by deep meditation, intense feelings of love, exposure to great art or music, or the overwhelming beauty of nature. Peak experiences are described as especially joyous and exciting moments in life, involving sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, wonder and awe, and possibly also involving an awareness of transcendental unity or knowledge of higher truth.
Peak experience tends to be uplifting and ego-transcending; it releases creative energies; it affirms the meaning and value of existence; it gives a sense of purpose to the individual; it gives a feeling of integration; it leaves a permanent mark on the individual, evidently changing them for the better.
Virtually everyone has a number of peak experiences in the course of their life, but often such experiences are taken for granted. In so-called “non-peakers”, peak experiences are somehow resisted and suppressed. Peak experiences should be studied and cultivated, so that they can be introduced to those who have never had them or who resist them, providing them a route to achieve personal growth, integration, and fulfillment.
Eustress is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, who performed important scientific work on the hypothetical response of an organism to stressors. It is defined as stress that is healthy or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. Eustress is a process of exploring potential gains.
Distress, with its negative implications, is the most commonly referred to type of stress, whereas eustress is a positive form of stress usually related to desirable events in a person’s life. Both can be equally taxing on the body and are cumulative in nature depending on a person’s way of adapting to a change that has caused it.
Eustress can be defined as a pleasant or curative stress. Just as there are many stressful situations that can lead to the development of depression, anxiety and apathy, there are also types of eustress that promote general emotional and physical well being.
There are many examples of eustress that many people encounter throughout their lives. All of them ultimately provide some degree of happiness and well being. Graduating from high school or college, the birth of children or securing a highly desirable job are all events that come with some amount of stress but ultimately provide positive emotions that help people to find meaning and value in life.
It has been suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environment, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance. It has been demonstrated that people who were more grateful coped better with a life transition. Specifically, people who were more grateful before the transition were less stressed, less depressed, and more satisfied with their relationships three months later.
Gratitude has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait. In one study concerning gratitude, participants were randomly assigned to one of six therapeutic intervention conditions designed to improve the participant’s overall quality of life. Out of these conditions, it was found that the biggest short-term effects occurred when participants wrote and delivered a letter of gratitude to someone in their life.
This condition showed a rise in happiness and a significant fall in depression, results which lasted up to one month after the event. Out of the six conditions, the longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing gratitude journals where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for each day. These participants’ happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment.
In fact, the greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after treatment began. This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many participants continued to keep the journal long after the study was over.
Empathy is the capacity to share the sadness or happiness of another sentient being. By the age of two, children normally begin to display the fundamental behaviors of empathy by having an emotional response that corresponds with another person.
It involves spontaneously and naturally tuning into the other person’s thoughts and feelings, whatever they might be. There are two major elements to empathy. The first is the cognitive component of understanding the others feelings and the ability to take their perspective. The second element is the affective component. This is an observer’s appropriate emotional response to another person’s emotional state.
Research in recent years has focused on possible brain processes underlying the experience of empathy. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has been employed to investigate the functional anatomy of empathy. These studies have shown that observing another person’s emotional state activates parts of the neuronal network involved in processing that same state in oneself.
Empathetic maturity is a cognitive structural theory that addresses how adults conceive or understand the personhood of patients. The theory, first applied to nurses and since applied to other professions, postulates three levels that have the properties of cognitive structures. The third and highest level is held to be a meta-ethical theory of the moral structure of care.
Prosperity is a state of flourishing, thriving, success, or good fortune. Prosperity often encompasses wealth, but also includes others factors which are independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health.
Many distinct notions of prosperity, such as economic prosperity, health, and happiness, are correlated or even have causal effects on each other. Economic prosperity and health are well established to have a positive correlation, and there is evidence that happiness is a cause of good health, both directly through influencing behavior and the immune system, and indirectly through social relationships, work, and other factors.
In Buddhism, prosperity is viewed with an emphasis on collectivism and spirituality. This perspective can be at odds with capitalistic notions of prosperity, due to their association with greed. Data from social surveys show that an increase in income does not result in a lasting increase in happiness. One proposed explanation to this is due to hedonic adaptation and social comparison, resulting in people not allocating enough energy to non-financial goals such as family life and health.
Economic notions of prosperity often compete or interact negatively with health, happiness, or spiritual notions of prosperity. For example, longer hours of work might result in an increase in certain measures of economic prosperity, but at the expense of driving people away from their preferences for shorter work hours. In ecology, prosperity can refer to the extent to which a species flourishes under certain circumstances.
In philosophy, metaethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, and ethical statements, attitudes, and judgments. It is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being ethical theory and applied ethics. Metaethics has received considerable attention from academic philosophers in the last few decades.
While normative ethics addresses such questions as “What should one do?”, thus endorsing some ethical evaluations and rejecting others, metaethics addresses questions such as “What is goodness?” and “How can we tell what is good from what is bad?”, seeking to understand the nature of ethical properties and evaluations.
Some theorists argue that a metaphysical account of morality is necessary for the proper evaluation of actual moral theories and for making practical moral decisions, however others make the reverse claim that only by importing ideas of moral intuition on how to act can we arrive at an accurate account of the metaphysics of morals.
A second area of metaethics involves the psychological basis of our moral judgments and conduct, particularly understanding what motivates us to be moral. We might explore this subject by asking the simple question, “Why be moral?” Even if one is aware of basic moral standards, this does not necessarily mean that one will be psychologically compelled to act on them. Some answers to the question “Why be moral?” are to avoid punishment, to gain praise, to attain happiness, to be dignified, or to fit in with society.
The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, is the idea in the study of ethics which points out that pleasure and happiness are phenomena that do not obey normal principles. First explicitly noted by the philosopher Henry Sidgwick in The Methods of Ethics, the paradox of hedonism points out that pleasure cannot be acquired directly, it can only be acquired indirectly.
As an example, suppose John likes to collect stamps. According to most models of behavior, it is believed that John likes collecting stamps because he gets pleasure from collecting stamps. Stamp collecting is an avenue towards acquiring pleasure. However, if you tell John this, he will likely disagree. He does get pleasure from collecting stamps, but this is not the process that explains why he collects stamps. It is not as though he says, “I must collect stamps so I can obtain pleasure”. Collecting stamps is not just a means toward pleasure. He just likes collecting stamps.
This paradox is often spun around backwards, to illustrate that pleasure and happiness cannot be reverse-engineered. If for example you heard that collecting stamps was very pleasurable, and began a stamp collection as a means towards this happiness, it would inevitably be in vain. To achieve happiness, you must not seek happiness directly, you must motivate yourself towards things unrelated to happiness, like the collection of stamps. The hedonistic paradox would mean that if one sets the goal to please oneself too highly then the mechanism would in fact jam itself.
Politician William Bennett has stated, “Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.”