Symptoms of Wellness: Happiness and Eudaimonia from a Self-Determination Perspective

Cody R. DeHaan, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Questions concerning the nature of happiness and wellness are age-old, as are the ways in which people strive to achieve them. Two traditions dominate theorizing about pathways to happiness and the good life. The hedonic tradition focuses on happiness as a desired subjective outcome, with interest in variables predicting it. The eudaimonic tradition focuses on characteristics associated with living well, defined in terms of realization of human potentials, and views happiness as one by-product of such living. Research within Self-Determination Theory (SDT) has links with each of these traditions. First, SDT explicitly distinguishes wellness from happiness, seeing the latter as a symptom of the former. Second, SDT research provides insights concerning how awareness, self-regulation, and a focus on intrinsic values, all attributes associated with eudaimonia, are associated with both wellness and positive hedonic outcomes, whereas some seemingly hedonistic lifestyles such as materialism can fail to yield even hedonic rewards. Most importantly, SDT highlights how social and environmental factors that support the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness facilitate happiness and wellness, providing practical, evidence-supported directions for human betterment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStability of Happiness
Subtitle of host publicationTheories and Evidence on Whether Happiness Can Change
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780124105386
ISBN (Print)9780124114784
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Eudaimonia
  • Happiness
  • Self-determination theory
  • Well-being


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