At the start of the year people make new goals for themselves, often those are about improving one’s life. This year instead of focusing on happiness as a goal you should consider thinking longer-term and think about satisfaction. Recent research points out that happiness itself is something that can be attained once one is out of poverty (fortunately this is most people in the developed world), so what people find lacking is a larger longer-term goal: and this is satisfaction.
The key here is memory. Satisfaction is retrospective. Happiness occurs in real time. In Kahneman’s work, he found that people tell themselves a story about their lives, which may or may not add up to a pleasing tale. Yet, our day-to-day experiences yield positive feelings that may not advance that longer story, necessarily. Memory is enduring. Feelings pass. Many of our happiest moments aren’t preserved—they’re not all caught on camera but just happen. And then they’re gone. Take going on vacation, for example. According to the psychologist, a person who knows they can go on a trip and have a good time but that their memories will be erased, and that they can’t take any photos, might choose not to go after all. The reason for this is that we do things in anticipation of creating satisfying memories to reflect on later. We’re somewhat less interested in actually having a good time.
Cities where people cycle regularly are happier than cities in which cycling is rare. The evidence continues to mount that building good cycling infrastructure will improve the life of everybody in a city – regardless if they ride or not. Urban planners already know that designing cities for pedestrians and cyclists make for better environments and now the on the ground happiness can be traced to it too. Get out there and ride a bike or ask your local politicians to make riding safer.
In Bogotá in 2017, for the first time, there were more survey respondents using bicycles than cars – 9 percent vs. 8 percent – with a satisfaction rate of 85 percent for bicycles against 75 percent for private vehicles. Only 19 percent users of the city’s bus rapid transit system, TransMilenio, reported being satisfied with its service.
The data from Colombia is consistent with international evidence.
Similarly, a survey of 1,000 people in London showed that 91 percent of the respondents bicycling to work found it satisfactory, while only 74 percent of bus commuters and 73 percent of Underground users were satisfied with their daily travel experience.
In the Global Happiness Report 2017, countries with high bicycle use tend to among the happiest overall, like the Netherlands (ranked sixth; daily bike use: 43 percent), Denmark (ranked third; daily bike user: 30 percent) and Finland (ranked first; daily bike use: 28 percent).
It’s Wednesday my dudes, which means you’re likely midway through your work week. If you’re looking for a boost in productivity and happiness you may want to consider working for yourself. People who are self-employed report being happier than people who work for bosses in a recent in study about workplace happiness. Of course, being self-employed isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking for a change maybe it’s time to strike out on your own!
Professor Warr said: “Professional workers who are self-employed really value the autonomy they have. They have the freedom to innovate, express their own views, have influence beyond their own role and compete with other companies and people.
“They really get to use their own expertise, so don’t seem to mind working long hours. They can find meeting high standards really fulfilling.”
Co-author Professor Ilke Inceoglu added: “Being engaged in their jobs makes people feel energised and pleased with their own contribution.
“Measuring how engaged people are in their work is therefore a really useful way to gauge their wellbeing and shows we must move beyond just looking at job satisfaction.”
Dan Buettner has travelled the planet looking for ways to make people happy and has found that the best thing one can do is be relaxed about the whole thing. He wrote a book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, that basically says happiness is a journey, not a destination. To be happy keep striving to become a better person by making your day to day more joyful and learning new things. The key is to find something that has meaning to you that you want to pursue and learn more about. The laziness comes in how you do this: don’t stress about it and take your time.
Hamblin: It sounds like you’re arguing for a reframing of the idea of “happiness” toward something bigger—an aggregate of purpose and joy and satisfaction and meaning. We’ve run pieces in the past that touch on, for example, Viktor Frankl and others who have said that life is really about pursuing meaning, and if you pursue happiness as we Americans tend to think about it, you end up going to amusement parks and shopping malls and trying to do things that are supposed to be making you happy but are sucking life out of you.
Buettner: Yes, exactly. So this was our challenge. Even though you can’t measure happiness, you can measure life satisfaction, partly by asking people, and partly by discrete questions about how much you smile or laugh or feel joy. You can also measure people’s sense of purpose, with questions like, “Do you learn new and interesting things every day? Have you used your strength to do what you do best this past week?” So for this book I worked with statisticians to run the numbers on data like this around the world. That pointed us to Singapore, Costa Rica, and Denmark as globally illustrative of facets of happiness. And so I spent a lot of time in those places, as well as a few U.S. cities, and tried to piece together explanations.
Many people strive for happiness and think it’s the end goal of life – pro tip: it isn’t. We’ve looked at happiness quite a few times and if there’s anything to learn from these posts it’s to embrace what you have at any given time. Mindfulness is key. In the video above CGP Grey takes use through things that make us miserable, and if you want to improve your life then you ought to stop doing those things listed in the video.