Martin Seligman is a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. In one of his studies on happiness, he found that people fall into one of three categories:
- Pleasure Seekers – These are individuals who seek happiness on a daily basis. People in this category seek happiness through consumption – buying things or buying experiences. They purchase expensive cars, expensive homes, boats, planes, the latest gadgets, furniture, cloths, etc. They also spend their money on experiences: exotic vacations, cruises, travel to foreign countries, skydiving, Las Vegas to gamble, helicopter skiing, amusement parks, running with the bulls, etc. They pursue the acquisition of things or experiences that result in immediate gratification. For these individuals, happiness is always elusive. Once the novelty of their purchase wears off or the experience ends, they are back to being unhappy.
- Dream Seekers – These are individuals who pursue some dream. They immerse themselves for years in activities that will one day pay dividends in the form of realizing a dream. Those dividends sometimes take the form of more wealth and more freedom to do things they could never afford to do. They find happiness in the pursuit of achieving the goals that eventually lead to the realization of their dreams. Since realizing a dream requires many years, they experience happiness every time they engage in their dream activity. This happiness can last for many years.
- Fulfillment Seekers – These individuals pursue activities that bring meaning to their lives. They are focused on adding value to the lives of others. They may or may not be pursuing a dream. They may or may not be interested accumulating wealth. Wealth, to them, is not the goal. Doing what they love, what they are passionate about, is the goal. Fulfillment seekers are the only truly permanently happy people. They are happy every day they are able to do what they love.
Which are you?