Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 25-41

First online:

Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life

  • Christopher PetersonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Nansook ParkAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Michigan
  • , Martin E. P. SeligmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Michigan

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Different orientations to happiness and their association with life satisfaction were investigated with 845 adults responding to Internet surveys. We measured life satisfaction and the endorsement of three different ways to be happy through pleasure, through engagement, and through meaning. Each of these three orientations individually predicted life satisfaction. People simultaneously low on all three orientations reported especially low life satisfaction. These findings point the way toward a distinction between the full life and the empty life.


empty life eudemonia flow full life hedonism life satisfaction meaning