In “Authentic Happiness,” Dr. Martin Seligman; postulates that there are three paths to happiness: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, and The Meaningful Life.
The Pleasant Life: Do something you love. Life’s natural highs
Happiness is primarily sought through the use of the senses: good food, fine wine, shopping, time off with friends, vacations, cars, houses, pursuit of things of this world, having as many pleasures as possible.
The Good Life: Do something that challenges your skills. Makes you grow
The good life involves a balanced focus on the three main areas of life: work, play, love. Happiness is attained by achieving competence, identifying and building on your core strengths to reach a flow state – a sustainable feeling of energized involvement and enjoyment.
The Meaningful Life: Live for a reason, a person or a purpose. Know your why.
Happiness comes from a deep sense of fulfilment by living for a purpose greater than oneself.
The pleasant life is obviously weighted toward the hedonistic. The chief disadvantage of the pursuit of physical pleasure is that we tend to quickly become habituated. Each new level rapidly becomes the norm and thus loses its allure. The three lives are not completely contradictory, and a balanced life can contain elements of all three. However Dr. Seligman believes that lasting happiness lies in progressing through each until we achieve the ability to have most of our happiness from living the meaningful life.