Happiness versus contentment, what makes a good life?

Published 03 May 2016

Date: 3 May 2016

The popularity of finding happiness over contentment is the focus of a new book by the University of New England’s Dr Jordan McKenzie.

In his latest book, Deconstructing Happiness, Dr McKenzie from the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences looks at what ‘the good life’ means in terms of happiness.

“While happiness is a part of ‘the good life’, the prioritisation of happiness over contentment has left the latter in severe shortage and people’s relationship with the good life uncertain,” said Dr McKenzie.

Dr McKenzie claims that modern societies have prioritised the short bursting, individualised happiness over the enduring, collective benefits of contentment.

“The analysis of happiness in modernity needs to do more than solve the mystery of finding happiness,” Dr McKenzie argues.

He argues that most contemporary happiness studies focus on attaining absolute happiness without much reflection on the relationships individuals have with society.

According to Dr McKenzie the understanding of happiness and its influences on contemporary life has been lost.

“In this book a distinction between happiness and contentment is emphasised, between the temporary and individualised forms of pleasure and the socially-mediated and cultivated forms of satisfaction.”

Dr McKenzie believes a more critical and social understanding of ‘the good life’ is needed to frame important discussions about the kind of society we would like to create.

Deconstructing Happiness was published two weeks ago by Routledge: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138832602

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For more information or for interview, contact Dr Jordan McKenzie on jmcken28@une.edu.au or 6773 2747.