Three Types of Life

The idea of categorizing our lives is not new, it was done by many: from Aristotle to Dr. Martin Seligman. I find it very helpful for understanding the world and our place in it. Here are three types in short:

1.Life of pleasure/pleasant life
2.Life of practical activity/good life
3.Philosophical life/meaningful life
And here is more description:
1.Life of consuming and taking, when we try to get as much as possible for our own pleasure. Think of any leisurely vacation you’ve taken, eating good food or watching TV. It it natural to pursue this kind of life mainly in the early stage of your life. Think of a baby who consumes all the time. This type is easy as it doesn’t require much effort, it is self-serving, and it has mostly short-term effect which means diminishing returns (you need more or better of what you consume to be happier next time, otherwise you’ll get disappointed).
2.Life of doing or producing. It could be either work or hobby, when we try to excel at something by learning, or improving our skills. Sometimes we get into flows, when we are engaged in some activity and lose track of time, because our strengths match the task or challenge. People may experience flows while they do reading, running or working on a project they like. This type is not easy, as it requires effort, but it is still self-serving, and it usually has medium effect. Of course, people are happy with their hobbies and their work accomplishments but as at some point they reevaluate results of their activities/success and get a feeling that is not enought.
3.Life of giving or making positive effect on others and the world around us. This type means serving others or making them higher priority than yourself. It could be volunteering, helping those in need, making product that improves quality of life, leading an organization with some high purpose or defending somebody’s rights. This requires more effort that othere two types, it is not self-serving and it has long-term effect.

Happiness is a combination of all three, combinations differ for different people, but the most long-lasting happiness is derived from type three, so make sure you have type three activities in your life.

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