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Well-being series: Aiming for happiness or well-being? (Optimism part 2)

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

This is a continuation of my previous post on my assignment to investigate the practice of optimism.

As I continued with my positive journaling exercise, I started to feel the positive effects of thinking about my ideal day each morning. This seemed a great approach with which to start the day! I found myself feeling a bit more buoyant than usual and less bothered when things didn't go as I would have hoped.

My aims at the beginning of the assignment were well-being focussed but I have to admit I also wanted to feel a bit happier. Prior to my interest in Positive Psychology I would have considered the terms happiness and well-being as interchangeable; they often are even in PP research studies.

However, as a concept subjective well-being (SWB) resonates more with me than happiness. Defined as a complex construct and much more than just feeling happy, it seems more appropriate as a universal measure of holistic well-being. A global self-reported measure, SWB is thought partly to comprise of the amount of positive emotional experience (affect) and the amount of negative affect you experience plus it also includes an important component representing how satisfied you feel with your life as a whole. The Satisfaction with Life Scale is one metric that can be used to capture this (Diener, 1984).

I took the scale at the beginning of the assignment and it told me that I feel fairly neutral about my life (!), a result higher than I was expecting given my anxiety disorder. I was intrigued to track this measure as on the part of the scale which captures self-reflective views of the past I scored particularly low. I am interested to see how practicing optimism can help to challenge this perspective.

Next post coming soon...optimism as coping


Diener, E. (1984). Subjective Well-Being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542-575.

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