The good life in balance: Insights from aging Japan

Iza Kavedžija


Happiness in the Japanese context can usefully be understood as deriving from a series of negotiations or “balancing acts” between contrastive values and orientations to the world. Of particular importance for older Japanese is a tension between a narrative orientation or attitude, involving sense-making and social activities such as reminiscing or reflecting; and an immediate attitude, implying a focus of attention on the present moment. Further balances are sought between sociality and the burden of over-closeness, intimacy and a sense of freedom, and dependence and autonomy, among others. Because the poles of these tensions encapsulate important social and moral values that are in some ways incommensurable, they cannot be resolved through a straightforward choice between them. Instead, their negotiation—and thus the pursuit of happiness itself—is a matter of practical moral judgment.


happiness, Japan, aging, values, moral judgment

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.3.008