Renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the founder of many interesting psychological theories. He also pointed out 5 elements of life and happiness.
Unlike other psychiatrists, whose theories and work have been criticized and questioned, Jung’s ideas are widely shared and revered throughout the world, and the concept of 5 elements of life and happiness is one of those.
As well as establishing the school of analytical psychology, he was also responsible for proposing the now accepted extroverted and introverted personality types and the collective unconscious.
Indeed, his work on life and happiness is particularly of relevance, as new generations growing up believe they have more of a right to a happy life with whatever that entails. But what makes a happy life?
Is it material things, wealth, more stuff, better houses? Jung thinks not. He reckons that it is not what we can acquire on the outside but what is going on inside that makes us happy.
Here are what Carl Jung believes are the 5 elements of life and happiness:
1. Good Mental Health
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Carl Jung.
We all know the importance of taking care of our physical self but even today there’s some stigma attached to our mental health. Jung knew that it is essential to make sure our mental states are healthy and that this is possibly the most important factor when it comes to life and happiness.
He believed that we can control our mental state with the help of our physical bodies and was a great advocate of exercising to free the mind and release those powerful endorphins.
2. Better Relationships
“For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed.” Carl Jung
Typically, human beings gravitate towards each other and want to spend time with people, not on their own, but being in a bad relationship is just as bad as being alone. Jung believed that it was not just our closest relationships that mattered, everyone counted, from co-workers to family, neighbors, and friends.
Spending time with people that make us happy leads to a happier life, it’s obvious. So it makes sense why having meaningful relationships with others is one of the key 5 elements of life and happiness.
3. Appreciate the beauty around you
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
Being able to look around you and appreciate the beauty of the world is not always easy. I remember when my partner died and nothing gave me pleasure. Then one morning I woke up and it was a hot day but there was a cool breeze drifting over my face and I remember thinking that it was lovely.
It made me realize that even in the direst of circumstances there can be light in the darkness. This seems to be even harder to do when we are busy, getting on with our lives, but Jung recognized how important it was to feel life and be thankful for simply being here.
These days you hear a lot about ‘living in the moment’ but this is exactly what Jung meant, taking stock of what is around you and stopping for a second to fully appreciate it.
4. Good living and work standards
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Jung
We spend much of our day at work so if we don’t enjoy it, it’ll definitely have an impact on our happiness. Feeling productive is key to a happy life, and this is not even about how much money you earn. Living to work and working to live are two very different things.
Taking pride in what you do will lead to greater happiness in and out of work, whereas simply trudging off to work to do a nine to five is wearing and will eventually wear you down outside of work as well as when you are at work.
5. Believe in something
“I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted to Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to oppose this resistance to this force.” Carl Jung
We are not necessarily talking about hard and fast religious beliefs here, but simply a belief in something has been shown to point to a happier life.
Thinking that there is ‘something bigger out there’ or some meaning to our lives seems to give us purpose, it provides us with the idea that there is something after death, another life or a chance to correct what we did wrong in this life, our chance to come back maybe.
It is our fear that this is it, our own mortality that we are afraid of, that when we have departed that is it. Those that believe something lives on are generally much more accepting of the end and can live a happier life during the process.
Although these 5 elements of life and happiness by Jung are pretty clear and straightforward, Jung himself, always aware that we are individuals, said:
“All factors which are generally assumed to make for happiness can, under certain circumstances, produce the contrary. No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness.”
Something I do agree with is his idea that the more ‘you deliberately seek happiness the surer you are not to find it.’
Treating others as you want to be treated yourself, acting with kindness, forgiving quickly, not holding a grudge and not coveting other people’s stuff to me are ways of achieving a life of happiness.
What are your essential elements? Do you agree with Jung or do you have some alternatives?