Fulfilling Life Theories
Some of the main theories about leading a fulfilling life include Hedonism, the objective list philosophic theories, Taoism, and Confucianism. These four theories focus on different ways to obtain happiness and to lead a fulfilling life, from focusing on pleasure (Hedonism) to living according to nature (Taoism).
Western philosophic theories about leading a fulfilling life
- Why this theory was selected: The theory was mentioned in two important documents about leading a fulfilling life: an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and an article published in Springer and written by Shirong Luo, who has been a member of the philosophy department at Simmons University since 2006.
- What the theory is: Hedonism claims that the only drivers of life are pleasure and pain, or happiness and unhappiness. All emotions fall under these two headings. Love is equal to pleasure and anger is equal to pain.
- How to implement or practice it in one's life today: According to an academic study published in PNAS, human behavior is believed to be guided by the Hedonic principle, according to which our choices of activities aim to minimize negative effects and maximize positive effects. The way of applying it in daily life is to maximize the actions and situations that promote positive behaviors.
- Expert critique: “Hedonism’s narrow focus on just one valuable feature of experience has made its position vulnerable to a significant problem: pleasure itself cannot account for the goodness of rich experiences. Pluralism is more plausible as an account of experientialist prudential value,” Dr. Willem van der Deijl from Tilburg University.
- Why this theory was elected: The theory was mentioned in two important documents about leading a fulfilling life: an article published in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and an article published in Springer website and written by Shirong Luo, who has been a member of the philosophy department at Simmons University since 2006.
- What the theory is: The objective list theory states that each person has a list of things that are essential to their overall life happiness such as friendships or a career, and having those things is what makes them feel fulfilled.
- How to implement or practice it in one's life today: According to an article published in Frontiers of Psychology, there is an inherent tendency for people to prefer certain goods and to have cooperative attitudes toward their peers, which creates a virtuous circle of individual integrity and social benevolence. As such, it is important to make a list of things or create goals that inherently resonates with a social circle of friendship.
- Expert critique: "The objective list theory of well‐being holds that a plurality of basic objective goods directly benefit people. These can include goods such as loving relationships, meaningful knowledge, autonomy, achievement, and pleasure" Christopher Rice, Philosopher professor from Lynn University.
Eastern philosophic theories about leading a fulfilling life
- Why this theory was elected: The theory was mentioned along with five others in two important documents: an article published in Researchgate and an article published in the Atlantis Press magazine.
- What the theory is: Taoism teaches that only by following nature's inaction can human beings achieve true happiness and that social happiness is to be self-satisfied with joy in life. Taoism also teaches to accept with equanimity the cosmic pattern of change.
- How to implement or practice it in one's life today: Taoism disapproves of killing, stealing, lying and promiscuity, and promotes altruistic, helpful and kind behavior. Good behaviors are the base of self-improvement and a key the improvement of our world.
- Expert critiques: "The problem with Taoism is that people urge to reflect on our unlimited desires, the biggest problem the society and humanity face," Xu Jialu, Vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and Head of the College of Chinese Language and Culture at Beijing Normal University.
- Why this theory was elected: The theory was mentioned along with five others in two important documents about leading a fulfilling life: an article published in Researchgate and an article published in Atlantis Press magazine.
- What the theory is: This theory states that individual happiness is achieved through "due contributions to the material and cultural development of the society". Confucianism also teaches that personal happiness comes from moral self-cultivation, which requires the self-control of material requirements.
- How to implement or practice it in one's life today: According to NatGeo, the person that practice Confucianism must fulfill their responsibilities to create a harmonious situation where the whole country prospers. In other words, one needs to be responsible for themselves to improve their social network.
- Expert critiques: “I disagree with many critiques of this religion concerning the issue of Confucianism being gender-biased towards men. Learning was an obligation to all those involved in Confucianism, whether they were a man or a woman. A woman’s main focus was taking care of the household, whereas men served as the support system. It should not be looked at as a gender-biased model for Chinese culture.” Janelle Johnson from St. John Fisher College.