12/02/2010 05:50 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Carl Jung's 5 Basic Factors for Happiness: Do You Agree with Them?

One of my chief intellectual interests, along with happiness, is a subject that I call "symbols beyond words." And on that mysterious subject, no one is more fascinating than Car Jung.

So I recently read the very interesting collection, "C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters." In 1960, Jung was interviewed by journalist Gordon Young, who asked, "What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?" Jung answered:

  1. Good physical and mental health.
  2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
  3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
  4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
  5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

Jung also added, "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."

I did disagree strongly with Jung on one point, when he said, "The more you deliberately seek happiness the more sure you are not to find it." I know, Carl Jung vs. Gretchen Rubin! But though many great minds, such as John Stuart Mill, make the same point as Jung, I don't agree.

I find that the more mindful I am about happiness, the happier I become. Take the five factors Jung outlined above: by deliberately seeking to strengthen those elements of my life, I make myself happier.

What do you think? Do you agree with the five factors? And do you find that mindfully pursuing happiness makes you happier, or less happy?


I love looking at book jackets and, in particular, comparing the different covers for the same book. (I get a big kick out my gallery of foreign covers for "The Happiness Project" for that reason.) I eagerly clicked through this collection of different covers for Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina." Fascinating.

The holidays are here! If you're giving "The Happiness Project" as a gift, I'm happy to mail you a signed, personalized bookplate for the recipient. Or for you, of course! Just e-mail me at; be sure to include your mailing address, because this is an actual thing that I'll mail to you. Feel free to ask for as many as you'd like. (They're free.)