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Carl Jung’s Five Key Elements to Happiness

I love reading Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist credited with being the developer of analytical psychology.

I especially enjoy his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His work is very challenging, however, so to get my Jung fix, I also read a bunch of interviews that he gave that were printed in the collection C.G. Jung Speaking. They are a fascinating read.

In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Jung, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?”

Jung answered with the five following elements…

11 Comments to
Carl Jung’s Five Key Elements to Happiness

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  1. Like you i too don’t like to disagree with what Carl Jung said but nevertheless,i would like to substitute point 3 & 5 with “Positive Thinking”.
    While speaking of happiness,i remember reading somewhere that happiness is =good health+bad memory.

  2. I agree with Carl Jung’s 5 things to do in order to be happy! and I also agree with the author. I also feel that the more aware we are about “being happy” the closer we are to getting happy because we constantly remind ourselves to see the beauty of all things and to just be happy.

  3. There is a difference between the pursuit of happiness and being mindful of happiness. I believe when you are Minsk you are already happy, and you are actively acknowledging happiness in what toy already have.

  4. Minsk = mindful, toy = what

  5. I may be taking Jung’s quote out of context, but I’m guessing he meant that:

    We should be seeking health, harmonious relationships, natural beauty, a decent living, and a philosophic/spiritual view on life — not happiness itself. For in seeking ‘happiness,’ we may overlook the fact that we’ve already found it (i.e. the five elements).

    • My interpretation of “The more you deliberately seek happiness the more sure you are not to find it” is that “deliberation suggests” expected result which is happiness. But since you cannot guarantee that someone will reach the level of happiness that is deemed satisfactory to them because of changes or variation in life or that each person’s standard is purely subjective, there is a high likelihood of disappointment due to the aforementioned factors.

      For some, it may be that only the first element contributes to their happiness.

  6. Jung’s quote, “The more you deliberately seek happiness the more sure you are not to find it.” might be interpreted as a reminder that deliberate, conscious intent is often the ego at work, thinking, as if it is a destination. Happiness is an outcome…

    • I would agree with you Frank. That deliberately seeking happiness is the ego’s conscious intent. Which is a produce of thinking the destination versus being the destination. We often can forget to enjoy what might already be bringing us happiness. As happiness is the outcome not the thought.

  7. It depends on how you define “seeking happiness.” If you say “I’ll be happy if only I [lose 10 lbs, get that promotion, buy a new car, etc.], then you’re likely to be disappointed when you discover that those things didn’t contribute to your happiness as much as you thought. I do agree that happiness comes from being mindful of the joys you already have. But I don’t think it makes you less happy if you seek to do more of the things that contribute to your well-being and less of the things that don’t.

  8. I doubt we’ll every have a “science” of happiness that applies to all or even most humans. One reason is that as we age we confront different developmental challenges. For example, when writing my 2000 book, Emotional Honesty & Self-Acceptance, I focused on “education strategies for preventing youth violence”. I tried to explain how teenagers’ torturous time of life struggles with feeling LOVABLE & ACCEPTABLE.

    Now, at age 75, I’m focusing on emotional health of seniors. Later life is often tumultuous as most seniors are unprepared for seniorhood. Specifically, many elders lack the coping skills for dealing with cognitive decline that threatens our earlier “sense of self”. We have a growing senior population that is terrified of “losing my mind” in a different way than teenagers. Both life transition periods may result in despair — the killer of happiness that robs us of a sense of well-being in later life. In our country the two highest rates of suicide are these two transitional age groups.

  9. Well, I think Jung’s 5 keys are pretty good, considering it was probably an off-the-cuff response to one in a series of questions that he was being asked. And I think he was right about seeking happiness seldom leads to it in that such an intent would, it seems to me, likely lead one to choose only those paths, actions, behaviors that would gratify oneself. Maybe a better goal would be to seek that which brings meaningfulness to one’s life…I think it was Scott Peck who suggested this. And meaningfulness isn’t always congruent with happiness. In fact, choosing meaning over happiness as a goal is oftn quite painful. But choosing the path of meaningfulness seems to bring a deep sense of self respect and confidence in one’s Self. This, to me, seems far more worthwhile.

  10. Focussing on happiness directly is, I think, a very bad idea – at least as far as saying it as a prescription for other people. Most people will take this idea and focus on acting out fantasies, wish fulfillment, and instant gratification. This tends to lead to overeating, shopping therapy, drugs, the endless search for new sexual partners etc i.e. addictions. Such paths will definately not lead to any sort of lasting happiness, rather quite the opposite.

    I like Victor Frankl’s idea of paradoxical intent, and he uses the pursuit of happines as an example in the book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. He says happiness is a consequence, not a goal. It is a consequence of having a meaning for your life, a purpose for living greater than yourself. Clearly he is reflecting Jung’s idea as discussed in the article above. Another author (Dr Paul Dobrovsky – may be mis-spelt, but anyway) describes it as having a ‘mission’. This idea warns against ‘directly’ focussing on happiness. Obviously, I like Jung’s 5 elements for happiness because they are a series of things that can easily be made into goals with ‘happiness’ as a likely consequence. I would perhaps add a 6th – have a ‘mission’, have a ‘greater purpose’ for living. But this could be considered just another way of expressing element 5, though more specific.

    I think there is an idea missing, how do you deal with the negatives of life? Fears, negative emotions, irritations etc. can plauge us all for time to time. I definately do NOT agree with the modern fad of ‘just think positive all the time’. That’s ridiculous. When negatives arise, examine them, decide what your going to do about it, make a plan, make a start on that plan, then let go – quickly. I think spending as little time as possible dwelling on the negatives is a good idea, and once you make a decision and begin to act, your happiness comes back even in the midst of serious problems (I’ve had a lot of chances to experiment and practice this over the years!).

    Sometimes I find negative events from the past can periodically disturb my peace (and sleep). I’ve come to the realization that this happens because there is something i don’t understand about that event, I’ve missed something, there is a lesson to be learned that I really need to know. I’ve found journalling the event and writing what I think about it helps. Most of all you have look for a new insight and ask yoursef “what have I missed?”. Eventually you will get some new ideas and that sweet ‘aha!’ moment will bring your smile back. When one gets used this process, past painful memories don’t feel so bad and they stop plauging you and stop taking control of your mind and emotions. The whole thing becomes interesting and exciting as you realize there is some important insight pushing it’s way into your mind from the Unconscious.

    Of course, you could argue that all of the above paragraph is just further details on Jung’s element 5. I would agree…….:)



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