The difference between Happiness, Wellbeing, resilience, fulfillment, and success

There is so much discussion and confusion between similar, at times overlapping yet different concepts such as Happiness, Wellbeing, fulfillment, resilience, and success.

Here I want to briefly share my opinion and definition of each, before diving deeper into the topic of Wellbeing which is the focus of this post.

  • Happiness is like a blossoming flower. It’s for me the ultimate goal of life and the best way possible to live life, it’s both the emotion we feel when our needs are met and the attitude with which we choose to live. I have written more about it in Three Types of Happiness & why Happiness Contribution is a better goal than Happiness
  • Wellbeing is like the soil and every other element needed to create and nurture the conditions for a flower to blossom. It’s the foundation of happiness, it’s the path we choose to create and constantly walk, it’s the neural pathways (like brain muscles) that we can develop and keep active through continuous practice, it’s our operating system as I will share in this post.
  • Resilience is like the capability of the flower to resist the wind and any other temporary weather conditions, staying grounded and continuing its growth and blossoming process. By working on our wellbeing, we strengthen our resilience.
  • Fulfillment is like the sunflower seed becoming a sunflower and the tulip seed becoming a tulip. It’s about our capability to reach our potential and let our seed blossom.
  • Success is about deciding how many flowers we want to see in our garden and getting exactly that amount or more blossoming. It’s about setting a goal and reaching it, that goal may make us feel also happy or fulfilled or not, and that goal may keep us healthy or may get us to burn-out.

Hence while all these elements are linked and influencing each other, they are different and each has its own mechanics and ways of nurturing them.

In this post I want to focus on Wellbeing and and how we can maximize it with the SPIRE framework.

What are the SPIRE elements?

SPIRE is the framework used by Tal Ben-Shahar to indicate the 5 primary elements of wellbeing: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional.

Tal Ben-Shahar’s entire Happiness Studies Academy is centered around this framework to organize what science, history, philosophy, religion, art, business and literature have to teach us about each element; and so it’s the Uppiness Game (interactive and fun online game to maximize learning to enhance our happiness) of which I’m a facilitator.

For Tal, Wellbeing is really about wholebeing, and he has identified twelve principles of wholebeing which include two general principles, and then two principles for each of the SPIRE elements.

I joined the very first cohort of Tal’s Happiness Studies Academy in 2018, while I was also doing research for my book Yellow Goldfish/Factor, graduating in December 2019. After that, I deepened my knowledge and practice of wellbeing with additional courses from QiGong, Laughter Yoga, Heart Coherence, Positive Intelligence, and Yoga. And, since I like to create frameworks that help me conceptualize and collect my knowledge in ways I can easily access and recall, I created a framework combining the learnings and elements from multiple areas and courses.

SPIRE Wellbeing framework

How can we nurture wellbeing: SPIRE elements and principles.

I have been reflecting a lot about the connections between all these elements and approaches, and ultimately come to the conclusions that:

  • the SPIRE wellbeing elements represent the “operating system” with which we (can) choose to operate
  • our soul, body, heart, mind, and lungs represent the hardware,
  • the possible paths (covered in this post) and the Yellow Factors (identified in my book) represent the software and
  • the doing are the actual practices (of which there are dozens to choose from for each hardware and element)

For each of the SPIRE elements, I will cover the following elements in two posts:

  1. Two Principles as identified by Tal Ben-Shahar as part of the HSA curricula
  2. Related hardware, software, and practices, as connected by me across all my learnings
  3. Elements Highlights (post 1) and Favorite quotes (post 2), mostly based on the learnings from HSA 
  4. Questions for refleAction, a combination of learning from HSA, Uppiness game, and other courses
  5. The very first step you can take to nurture this wellbeing, based on my own learning and experience
  6. A summary visual with paths and Yellow Factors (post 1) and a summary visual with paths and quotes (post 2)
  7. Link to the recording(s) of Laugh&Learn Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by each of the wellbeing elements (different sessions in post 1 and post 2)

The main sources for this blog post are:

Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail.

Spiritual wellbeing: principles and highlights

This wellbeing two principles are:

  1. A purposeful life is a spiritual life
  2. The ordinary is elevated to the extraordinary through mindful presence

Related hardware, software, topics, and practices

  1. Hardware: Soul (Silence and Universe)
  2. Action: being
  3. Software/Topics: Job, Career, Calling, Goals, Strengths, Passion and Performance
  4. Yellow Factor: Purpose & Integrity
  5. Practices: Mindfulness, Meditation, Silence, Flow

Spiritual Wellbeing: Elements Highlights

Purpose is what gives our life meaning (we feel connected to the activity) and commitment (we feel motivation and energy to do the activity). It’s not the attainment of a goal, but the pursuit of meaningful goals that makes a purposeful life and a happy life.

We can always reframe our perception of what we are already doing and find purpose in what we are doing, creating a purposeful life in our day-to-day journey. It’s our approach to the activity that matters. With this attitude, we can turn any job into a calling, like the example of the hospital janitors (research by Amy Wezesniewski). The ones who saw it as a calling saw it in a broader context: they were contributing to the health of the patients and the smooth running of the hospital. And they were happier and did their work better than the janitors who saw it only as a job.

Similarly, we can change our perception of anything that happens to us, transforming any challenge and difficulty, into opportunities to learn and grow.

If purposeful goals represent our self-concordant destination, using our strengths is how we can best travel a self-concordant journey so that we can achieve both happiness (wellbeing) and success (reaching our destination). Fixing our weaknesses only helps us do damage control. It is embracing and using our strengths that will bring us to excellence.

In a strengths-based approach, we operate as much as possible into our Peak Potential Zone when we combine performance strengths (what I’m good at) and passion strengths (what energizes me)

Another big element of spiritual wellbeing is the quality of our presence, our connection with nature and the divine, through mindful presence, and meditation.

We have both formal and informal mindfulness, which is about doing what we do with total focus on one or more of our five senses.

And we have meditation, whose goal is to bring us to contemplation by silencing the mind, reducing the thoughts and the suffering that comes with them.

We can have still meditation (often more difficult for us) and active meditation (like walking and laughter yoga)

Questions for refleAction

📌What are my performance strengths?

📌What are my passion strengths?

📌How can I increase the time I spend in the Peak Potential Zone?


The very first step you can take to nurture this wellbeing:

✅ Take the VIA Character Strengths Assessment to find out your Strengths

✅ Select one of your top strengths and commit for the next week to address any challenge and opportunity using that strength

This wellbeing in one image
Spiritual Wellbeing Yellow Factors
Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by this wellbeing elements
HSA LaugherZoom 2024_1: Laugh & Learn. Spiritual Wellbeing and Yellow Factors: Purpose and Integrity
LaugherZoom 2023 #12. “Laugh & Learn” inspired by Nepal & Spiritual Wellbeing.

Physical wellbeing: principles and highlights

This wellbeing two principles are:

  1. Mind and body are connected
  2. A healthy life requires adherence to our given nature

Related hardware, software, topics, and practices

  1. Hardware: Body and posture
  2. Action: doing/moving
  3. Software/Topics: Mind Over Matter, Dualistic and wholistic Mindset, Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Recovery, Touch, Physiology of Stress
  4. Yellow Factor: Health and Nature
  5. Practices: BEST ME (Breath, Eat, Sleep/recover, Touch, Move, Exercise), Laughter Yoga, Yoga, Walk.

Physical Wellbeing: Elements Highlights

The first principle is all about the body-mind connection and is the foundation of the concept of Laughter Yoga.

A happy posture leads to a happy experience. The Mind-Body-Integration Method MBI says that “every psychological state has a physiological corollary”. If you assume a physical posture, you bring to mind the associated thoughts and feelings.

Our thoughts affect our actions and our actions affect our thoughts, and this is the foundation of the “as if” principle: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it” William James

The “hotel maid test” conducted by Alia Crum & Ellen Langer in 2004 (comparing a control group with two groups of maids, one that only got training about physical wellbeing and another group who was also clear showed how each hotel activity is a physical activity that contributes to their wellbeing), supports the hypothesis that exercise affects health also via the placebo effect.

Even in Reiki study I did in Nepal, the foundation was that the mind is key. If the mind believes, then it happens. If we make body and mind work together, we can bring about remarkable results. That is the basis of the entire philosophy of Yoga and the 8-fold path by Patanjali.

And we need to nurture our body by adhering to our nature and understanding what makes us feel the best, looking not just at the averages but also at the best outliers (like the Blue Zones where people live healthy and happy over 100 years).

We need to respect our universal nature and our individual nature.

To become our best self, universal studies and research have proven the importance of six elements, which I summarize in the framework BEST ME: Breath, Eat, Sleep/recover, Touch, Move, Exercise

It’s only through our “me-search” that we can identify what is the food that best works for us, how much sleep and rest we need, what is our favorite exercise and way to keep moving.

Questions for refleAction

📌 How can I better manage my energy?

📌 How does my personal BEST ME look like?

📌 What can I change today to get closer to my BEST ME?


The very first steps you can take to nurture this wellbeing:

Map your current BEST ME (Breath, Eat, Sleep/recover, Touch, Move, Exercise) and your ideal one

Choose one “BEST ME” area that you can start improving today with one action you can take every day for the next 40 days

This wellbeing in one image
Physical Wellbeing
Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by this wellbeing elements

HSA LaugherZoom 2024_2: Laugh & Learn. Physical Wellbeing and Yellow Factors: Health & Nature

LaugherZoom 2023 #13. “Laugh & Learn” inspired by Nepal & Physical Wellbeing.

Intellectual wellbeing: principles and highlights

This wellbeing two principles are:

  1. Curiosity and openness help us make the most of what life has to offer
  2. Engaging in deep learning fulfills our potential as rational animals

Related hardware, software, topics, and practices

  1. Hardware: Mind and Thoughts
  2. Action: doing/thinking
  3. Software/Topics: ReflAction, Curiosity, Failure, Questions, Multiple Intelligences, Journaling, Single-Tasking, Learning, Growth versus Fixed mindset
  4. Yellow Factor: Autonomy & Simplicity
  5. Practices: Journaling, PQ reps, habits

Intellectual Wellbeing: Elements Highlights

Curiosity is our desire to learn more; it’s a cognitive process where eyes and ears take in information; it generates reflection.

Openness is our desire to do more going out of our comfort zone; it’s a physical process where hands and feet move to experience; it generates action.

Curiosity and openness to learning are also the approaches we can have towards failure, by “failing forward”: “learn to fail or fail to learn”.

Growth only happens when we both reflect and act, hence Tal Ben-Shahar has introduced the concept of ReflAction, which you see also included for each element and often mentioned at the end of my other blog posts.

We are born inherently curious about the world. The school or education often kills or reduces curiosity. We ought to do our best to rekindle the remaining sparks of curiosity, to reignite our passion for learning.

Based on self-perception theory, we form our perceptions and draw our conclusions by observing our own behaviors. When we act kindly, our attitude is likely to shift towards kindness and we are likely to see and feel ourselves as kind. Behavior changes attitude.

Since curiosity is an attitude toward life, we can change it through behavior.

Real learning only happens when we are open to experience and live, rather than only learning from books.

Learning and asking questions satisfy our inquisitive nature just like food and water satisfy our physical nature.

Questions create our reality by sending us on a quest. The kind of questions that we ask determine the kind of quest we undertake, what we pay attention to, and therefore the kind of life we live.” Tal Ben-Shahar

A question is like a light beam that puts the spotlight only on a part of reality leaving everything else in the darkness. We often look for answers in the wrong place because we shed the light there or we follow the light created by other unconsciously agreeing to their questions and hence to the reality they created.

We can choose to change our reality by choosing to change the questions that guide us.

Focusing on strengths leads to better business performance and higher levels of job satisfaction. If you want to embark on a positive quest, you have to begin with positive questions, such as:

  • What am I proud of?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What do I appreciate in my life?
  • What is going well and do I want more of?
  • What is not going well that I want to minimize or get rid of?

If we ask the wrong question, we won’t find what we’re looking for. Instead of asking “Why do some individuals fail?” we need to wonder “What makes some individuals succeed despite unfavorable circumstances”?

Questions for refleAction

📌What type of questions do I ask myself?

📌Do I focus enough on what can I be grateful for and proud of?

📌Do I take enough risks? How can I allow myself and encourage my team to fail forwards?


The very first steps you can take to nurture this wellbeing:

Start adding YET to the sentence every time you say “I haven’t” or “I can’t”

To nurture more happiness in your life and work and contribute to bringing more happiness in the world, take the sunflower assessment to see how full is your pollen tank on each petal of Happiness, and to identify your Yellow Goldfish Inward and your Yellow Goldfish Outward

This wellbeing in one image
Intellectual Wellbeing Yellow Factors
Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by this wellbeing elements

HSA LaugherZoom 2024_3: Laugh & Learn. Intellectual Wellbeing and Yellow Factors: Autonomy and Simplicity

COMING SOON. Scheduled for Friday 12 April @ 3 PM. Comment on this blog or DM us to receive passcode to join

LaugherZoom 2023_14. #Laugh&Learn – Intellectual Wellbeing.

Relational wellbeing: principles and highlights

This wellbeing two principles are:

  1. Relationships are crucial for a full and fulfilling life
  2. The foundation of healthy relationships with others is a healthy relationship with oneself

Related hardware, software, topics, and practices

  1. Hardware: Lungs, Breath, Meridians, ANS (Autonomic Nervous System)
  2. Action: doing (giving/sharing)
  3. Software/Topics: Relationships, Authenticity & Positivity, Love & Lust, Generosity, Independence & Intimacy, Gratitude
  4. Yellow Factor: Play & Empathy
  5. Practices: Breathing, Chakra, Laughter Yoga, Gratitude, Flow, QiGong, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Relational Wellbeing: Elements Highlights

Relationships are the number one predictor of happiness, as proven by the Longest Study on Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. People living in the happiest countries in the world enjoy high levels of social support. The quality and deepness of the relationship are more important than the number of friends.

Relationships contribute to the overall success of an organization. We work with people and for people.

And we are happier when we give! FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) studies by social cognitive neuroscientist Lieberman have proven that we have a social brain: people get more pleasure from the happiness of others (that they have contributed to) than from their own happiness.

In Hebrew the word for “give” and “receive” is NATAN which can be read in both directions: When we give, we are given back, we receive, and when we receive, we also give.

Without generosity, no true love can exist, no genuine friendship can flourish. Yet, Self-love is a prerequisite for loving others. Self-full people care about themselves and others.

Every course I did in Nepal, started with a focus on self-love!

TSEWA is a Tibetan word for caring and compassion, both towards self and others. TSEWA is a state of mind or way of being where you extend how you relate to yourself towards others as well. Whenever we nurture ourselves, our capacity for giving and receiving grows, and hence our relationships are bound to grow.

While the Western way of thinking and behaving tends to see selfishness and egoism against selflessness and altruism, the Wholebeing approach recognizes interdependence and integration of self and others.

Questions for refleAction

📌What are my top 5 relationships? Who am I most grateful for in my life?

📌 How do they contribute to my happiness and how do I contribute to theirs?

📌 How can I build deeper relationships?


The very first steps you can take to nurture this wellbeing:

✅ Send one gratitude message/email to one person who has contributed to your well-being and happiness in the last year (or longer) sharing with them what they did and what it meant for you.

✅ Write someone you are deeply grateful for a letter sharing with them why and how they contributed to your life. Then call them to plan a (gratitude) visit (without anticipating much) and read the letter to them when you meet.

This wellbeing in one image
Relational Wellbeing Yellow Factors
Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by this wellbeing elements

HSA LaugherZoom 2024_4: Laugh & Learn. Relational Wellbeing and Yellow Factors: Play and Empathy

COMING SOON. Scheduled for Friday 10 May @ 3 PM. Comment on this blog or DM us to receive the passcode to join

LaugherZoom 2023_15. “Laugh & Learn” – Relational Wellbeing.

Emotional wellbeing: principles and highlights

This wellbeing two principles are:

  1. All emotions are legitimate, acceptable, part of being human
  2. Emotions are the outcome of our thoughts and deeds and inform our thoughts and deeds

Related hardware, software, topics, and practices

  1. Hardware: Heart and emotions
  2. Action: doing/feeling
  3. Software/Topics: Permission to Be Human, Painful/depleting versus pleasant/enriching Emotions, Active Acceptance, Psychological Maturity, Emotional Intelligence, Pleasure, Broaden and Build, Empathic Communication (NVC)
  4. Yellow Factor: Empathy & Smile
  5. Practices: Heart coherence, RAIN (recognize, accept, investigate needs, nurture), Gratitude, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Emotional Wellbeing: Elements Highlights

In every single class, keynote, or session I give, you’ll always hear me say “If there is one thing that you remember from me today, let it be that…”: There are NO positive or negative emotions, just emotions (usually pleasant and enriching) that we feel when our needs are met and emotions (usually painful and depleting) that we feel when our needs are not met. This has been the core learning I took with me from the NonViolent or Empathic Communication Courses based on Ph.D. Marshall Rosenberg’s approach.

Emotions are simply “energy in motion”, they are temporary, they are information, and we simply accept them, learn from them, let them flow, and take inspired action to nurture our needs, we will easily move from painful emotions to pleasant ones and be happier. Accepting all emotions, expressing gratitude, and enhancing our capacity for joy and laughter are key practices to strengthen our emotional wellbeing and resilience

The permission to be human is not about resignation but rather about active acceptance – accepting the emotion while choosing the most appropriate action.

The more I accept the emotion I’m feeling, the more control I have over my actions. Feelings are neither good nor bad, whereas behaviors can be good or bad.

Happiest people cognitively evaluate their emotions as temporary and specific, whereas the least happy people see their emotions as permanent and pervasive. They also:

  1. choose to do actions that enable them to feel more enriching emotions, i.e. by doing more of the activities that contribute to their happiness and fill up their sunflower’s pollen tanks.
  2. practice gratitude to savor and appreciate the good things in their lives, both for the small things that have already happened and the ones they look forward to

Appreciate means both to be grateful for something and to grow in value. That is why when we practice gratitude we also enable the good in our life to appreciate further and become more valuable

Questions for refleAction

📌 Do I give myself permission to be human? How can I do that more often?

📌 Do I just let it RAIN and get through the steps of Recognizing and Accepting the emotions, Investigating which needs are met or not, and Nurturing the Needs?

📌 How can I increase the time I spend feeling enriching emotions?


The very first steps you can take to nurture this wellbeing:

✅ Write down a self-compassionate message you can tell yourself next time you are struggling giving yourself permission to be human

✅ Write down 3 things you look forward to tomorrow

This wellbeing in one image
Emotional Wellbeing Yellow Factors
Laughter Yoga sessions inspired by this wellbeing elements

HSA LaugherZoom 2024_5: Laugh & Learn. Emotional Wellbeing and Yellow Factors: Empathy and Smile

COMING SOON. Scheduled for Friday 14 June @ 3 PM. Comment on this blog or DM us to receive the passcode to join

LaugherZoom 2023_16. “Laugh & Learn” – Emotional Wellbeing.

Next steps: How can I help you to bring more happiness, and wellbeing in your life and work?

Is wellbeing already your chosen operating system? Do you consciously and intentionally do practices that contribute to your wellbeing?

Do you want to bring more wellbeing and happiness knowledge and practices to your team or organization? One of the most inspiring and fun ways to do so is our Happiness Booster Session (3-4 hours) which includes the Uppiness Game that is fully designed around the 5 SPIRE elements. After ~2 hours of learning key insights from the Science of Happiness, participants play Uppiness is an online (or hybrid) game designed to encourage employees to better solve daily challenges (based on dilemma cards, that can be fully customized) with the use of solution cards based on 5 keys from the world of positive psychology, designed around the SPIRE model (Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational or Emotional). The dilemma owner chooses the solution that most resonates with him/her and commits to put it into action using his/her own Strengths (assessed using either VIA Character or Gallup assessments, which results are selectable in the game). Find out more about our Uppiness Game & Happiness Booster Session. 

Additional options for you (each of which can also be fully customized based on your specific needs):

Do you want to bring more harmony and happiness knowledge in your own life? Here are a few FREE options for you:

Would you like to deepen your knowledge of wellbeing and happiness by joining the Happiness Studies Academy with Tal Ben-Shahar and become a Certified Happiness Trainer too? I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have and as alumna I also have a special discount code for you. So reach out if you are interested in this option!


Stay healthy, happy, and yellow!

Keep Smiling! Start Laughing!

💛 🌻 ☀️ Yours truly, Rosaria

* If you would like to know more about how to pursue Happiness Driven Growth in your company or would like us to deliver an engaging talk or masterclass about it at your event, get in touch or simply follow Rosaria Cirillo on LinkedIn & Instagram to receive her inspirational DOSE of Happiness.

** Customer experience is the perception customers have of the interactions with your company along every touchpoint and communication. It’s their truth. Great customer experiences don’t happen by chance. Instead, they require the orchestration of six disciplines across different teams and the mastering of six competencies. Would you like to learn more and grow your Customer Experience competencies? Get in touch to find out more about our newest HCX Online Academy, our in-company HCX Masterclasses, and HCX (Human-Centred and Happiness-Contributing Experiences) approach.

*** Yellow Factor is available for sale on Amazon/Kindle. Find links to your local Amazon store here. Did you already enjoy reading Yellow Factor and want to help us inspire more people? Helps us spread the word by sharing the quote that most resonated with you and by posting a picture of you with our book on social media using hashtags: #YFITW #YellowFactorInTheWorld #YellowFactorQuote #choosehappiness

Accelerate your HCX Transformation

Are you relentlessly trying to improve Customer & Employee Experience to ensure business growth? Perhaps your initial efforts are paying off, yet not enough and there is still something missing. How can your company achieve “remarkable” results while your employees feel that they make a meaningful contribution to a better world? Would you like to know how you can thrive and blossom while generating profits thanks to high retention? Check out our Training Programs based on the Happiness Driven Growth Model.

Nurture your well-being and flourish

The last 3 years have been tough! Working from home has taken a massive toll on all of us with reduced physical and social activities, increased stress, loneliness, and burnout. Chances are, you often ask yourself “how do I take care of my well-being with the limited time and resources I have? And where do I even start?”. Would you like to know how you can thrive and blossom in life and in business? Check out our Open Programs to nurture your well-being and increase your customer & employee experience knowledge.

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