Story at a glance

  • Author Tal Ben-Shahar’s new book "Happiness Studies" introduces a new interdisciplinary field of study dedicated to exploring happiness.
  • The co-founder of Wholebeing Institute proposes a simple process for holistic well-being.
  • The "SPIRE" strategy calls for breaking down wellness into spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational and emotional well-being.

Humans have spent much of their existence in the pursuit of happiness, but, nowadays, who has the time? In his new book, "Happiness Studies," Tal Ben-Shahar combs through the research and distills the whole process down to two steps. 

Step one, redefine happiness. The author cites a study that found seeking happiness could actually make you depressed. 

"The analogy that I give in the book is sunlight. Looking at the sunlight directly hurts. But if I break down sunlight into its colors and look at the rainbow, that I can enjoy. But directly pursuing happiness can hurt me," Ben-Shahar told Insider.


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Instead, he says, pursue “wholeness,” a more holistic sense of wellness that focuses on both the internal and external well-being. 

So how do you do that? That's step two, or "SPIRE," a strategy created by Ben-Shahar and Megan McDonough, co-founders of Wholebeing Institute. The acronym represents five parts of the "wholebeing": spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational and emotional. 

"The word 'spire' is within the word 'respire,' meaning to breathe — the act that keeps you alive. The SPIRE perspective encourages you to know yourself — to understand and value that which is uniquely and wonderfully you. When you become grounded in who you are, it becomes a source of energy. While respiring (breathing) keeps you alive, SPIRE wholebeing seeks to keep you enlivened," according to the institute's website. 


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Published on Aug 09, 2021