Achievements Don’t Equate To Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is life to some people, although they’ll likely never achieve it. They won’t get to their desired level of happiness because they think that a certain achievement will bring them happiness. Instead, they should learn what books of wisdom already know: be happy with what you have.

In his book If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, Raj Raghunathan looks into this question. He has much to share when it comes to happiness and how one should think about that desired emotional state in the context of their life as a whole.

Raghunathan: That’s the plight of most people in the world, I would say. There are expectations that if you achieve some given thing, you’re going to be happy. But it turns out that’s not true. And a large part of that is due to adaptation, but a large part of it also is that you see this mountain in front of you and you want to climb over it. And when you do, it turns out there are more mountains to climb.

The one thing that has really really helped me in this regard is a concept that I call “the dispassionate pursuit of passion” in the book, and basically the concept boils down to not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes. The reason why it’s important to not tie happiness to outcomes is that outcomes by themselves don’t really have an unambiguously positive or negative effect on your happiness. Yes, there are some outcomes—you get a terminal disease, or your child dies—that are pretty extreme, but let’s leave those out. But if you think about it, the breakup that you had with your childhood girlfriend, or you broke an arm and were in a hospital bed for two months, when they occurred, you might have felt, “Oh my goodness, this is the end of the world! I’m never going to recover from it.” But it turns out we’re very good at recovering from those, and not just that, but those very events that we thought were really extremely negative were in fact pivotal in making us grow and learn.

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Be Happy With What You Have

It’s often thought that if one had more money they would be happier, bills would be easy to pay and work would be less stressful. It turns out that that is not the case. Once one has their basic needs met the more they earn the less of an impact it has on their happiness.

Be happy with what you have and stop thinking that material wealth will solve your problems. Embrace the now and appreciate what is around you.

The idea of the hedonic treadmill can apply to discrete pleasures—like getting accustomed to better beer—or it can apply to an overall lifestyle. There is evidence that if an individual’s basic needs are met, after a certain point, increases in income do not lead to much greater happiness. As the money we have to spend goes up, so too do our expectations and desires—and with them the possibility of disappointment. A now-classic study from 1978 compared the happiness of lottery winners with a control group drawn from the same neighborhoods. The researchers interviewed lottery winners after the initial thrill had worn off. When asked to rate their present level of happiness, the lottery winners answered in the same way as did the control group. The two groups also made similar predictions about their future happiness. And when asked about a number of mundane pleasures—talking with a friend or eating breakfast—the lottery winners actually derived less pleasure than did the control group.

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Get Your Fika On

Coffee breaks in North America tend to be more about coffee than a break. In Scandinavia they focus on the break. In fact, they even have a special word for it: fika. They also add baked goods to the mix.

The reason the fika concept is important is that Sweden has the happiest workers around the world. There is no doubt that their fika practice contributes to their happiness at the workplace. So for a good day at work take breaks.

“It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.” explains Anna Brones who co-wrote the book Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (2015). “In our own [US] culture, where coffee has come to be more about grabbing a 16-ounce-grande-whatever, in a paper cup to go, coffee is more about fueling up and going fast. In Sweden, coffee is something to look forward to, a moment where everything else stops and you savor the moment,” she writes on Apartment Therapy. “In today’s modern world we crave a little bit of that; we want an excuse to slow down.”

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Pub Proximity Produces Pleasure

How close you live to a pub impacts your happiness, the closer you are the happier you’ll be! Oxford University and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) released the study proving this fun bit of knowledge last week. CAMRA is all about keeping British pub culture alive and strong bro people keep drinking beer, which is good for you too.

The study was conducted in pubs in Oxfordshire, and it also found pubs were very important in providing a place where people could meet and make friends.
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, said: “Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing.
“Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute.
“Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”

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Lessons on Happiness From the Happiest Man Alive

What’s the key to happiness? Not thinking about yourself.

Matthieu Ricard is a Tibetan Buddhist monk who has been deemed the world’s happiest man. Researchers scanned his brain to prove it. He has used his training to hone his brain to be ‘light’ and not carry burdens – something we can all learn from. A fundamental aspect of his approach is that he tries his best to not think about himself and to be as caring to others as he possibly can.

6. You can then use meditation to gain some space from negative emotions. Ricard says: ‘You can look at your experience like a fire that burns. If you are aware of anger you are not angry you are aware. Being aware of anxiety is not being anxious it is being aware.’ By being aware of these emotions you are no longer adding fuel to their fire and they will burn down.

7. You will see benefits in stress levels and general wellbeing as well as brain changes with regular practise in a month. Those who say they don’t have enough time to meditate should look at the benefits: ‘If it gives you the resources to deal with everything else during the other 23 hours and 30minutes, it seems a worthy way of sending 20 minutes,’ Ricard says

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