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date: 28 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

What makes for a life well lived? Although the capacity for well-being is widely acknowledged in current psychological theory, there is less agreement on what constitutes “the good life” and, indeed, considerable debate has centered on how such a life may be achieved. According to self-determination theory, all individuals require satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness for the promotion of physical, psychological, and social wellness. Herein, we present findings from three areas of research in self-determination theory on the antecedents of “the good life,” namely, the correlates of behavior that are regulated with autonomy (rather than heteronomy), the pursuit and attainment of intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) aspirations, and being mindfully aware of internal and external experiences as they occur. Throughout this review, the authors stress the importance of autonomy for an experience of harmony among thoughts, feelings, and actions, which is sine qua non for happiness.

Keywords: aspirations, autonomy, eudaimonia, hedonia, mindfulness, self-determination theory, self-regulation, the good life, wellness

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