The Spire Model Of Happiness

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In Happiness Studies, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar tells us:

an overemphasis on happiness could be self-defeating. A study by a University of Denver team in 2011, for example, found that people who place a high value on happiness are more likely to be lonely—a characteristic closely linked to unhappiness or even depressionTo value happiness or not to value happiness, that is the question! The resolution of the paradox lies in the need to value (and pursue) those elements that indirectly lead to happiness.

Wholebeing as a multidimensional, multifaceted variable that includes the following parts: Spiritual wellbeing, Physical wellbeing, Intellectual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and Emotional wellbeing. Together, these five elements form the acronym SPIRE. The various connotations of this word are intimately related to happiness. A spire is “the highest point or summit of something,” just as happiness, being the ultimate currency, is the highest on the hierarchy of goals.

The relationship between happiness and the SPIRE elements is analogous to the one between white sunlight and the colors of the rainbow. Happiness is like the bright white light emanating from the sun: pleasant and vital, and yet—as Iris Mauss and her colleagues pointed out—potentially harmful if you focus on it directly. The SPIRE elements are like the colors of the rainbow—beautiful and enticing, and yet not too bright to observe directly. Focusing directly on happiness can be self-defeating, and therefore we apply a prism, employ a lens, that breaks life’s ultimate currency into its five SPIRE elements. And it is then that we can, without hurting ourselves, understand, pursue and attain happiness.”

Okay. We don’t want to pursue happiness directly, which can be self-defeating. Instead, we should pursue the SPIRE elements that comprise happiness.

If we pursue the SPIRE elements—Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional—directly, then happiness will likely emerge as a product of those pursuits.