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The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Putting Eudaimonia in Its Place by Kennon M. Sheldon in Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being
Maximize your “Pursuit of Happiness.”
“People think their material circumstances make a bigger difference in their happiness than they do. Money does matter, but it doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.”
CONNECTION IS THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS
“Happiness” is the combination of two things. First, how happy are you IN your life? These are the positive emotions that you feel with your daily activities. And, second, how happy are you WITH your life? In general, how do you feel about your life’s direction?
The research on Happiness tells us that one’s material circumstances account for about 10% of our happiness. Sonja advises that we don’t take the numbers too seriously, but that we pay attention to the relative weights of different sources of happiness. And financial resources are a small relative weighted source.
That being said, how we employ those resources can matter a great deal.
When we are spending our resources to build connection with others or to contribute to society, we are boosting our happiness.
There is a bit of conundrum in that on the one hand the pursuit of material things is associated with less happiness, while having material things is associated with more happiness.
When it comes to the aims of our lives, the pursuit of:
- Money, Fame, Power, Beauty leads to unhappiness
- Connection, Personal growth, helping others leads to happiness
INTERNAL CONDITIONS VS. EXTERNAL CONDITIONS
“You can find two people in the same circumstances and one of them is happier than the other – that has to do with how they behave and think in their daily life.” This is all about INTERNAL conditions.
The external conditions – the size of our house, whether we are married, our health and our age have a lesser effect on our happiness.
The great life goals – growth, connection, helping – are “Intrinsic.” Their pursuit can end in their acquisition AND in greater relative happiness.
The extrinsic markers – Money, Power, Beauty, Fame – might be acquired also when you focus on the “intrinsic” goals, but focusing on the extrinsic markers as the goal will only lead to unhappiness. The extrinsic success markers are horrible life goals, but they are wonderful byproducts.
That is the catch 22 of our evolutionary adaptation… we are only ever temporarily happy with our current level of achievement before begin stretching again for more/better. This is the source of our hedonic treadmill. Our social media world inflames this tendency to move the goal posts again and again.
AMBITION – THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Ambition is a bit of a double edged sword. In moderation, ambition can be a good thing. Too much ambition can be very bad for our happiness/well-being.
Happy people always have something right around the corner that they are working towards achieving; they don’t get sucked in by perfectionism.
The “Pursuit of Happiness” can easily backfire if you take it too far…
It is easy to ask:
Am I happy yet? Am I happy enough? Am I happy the right way? But, you can ask all of these from a very happy place and it can lead you towards not feeling it is enough.
Same is true with the intrinsic markers of happiness:
Am I giving? Am I giving enough? Am I too giving?
Am I grateful? Am I grateful enough? Am I too grateful?
Everything we know that leads to greater happiness – can lead to reduced happiness if taken too far.
ON CONNECTION: In relationship, the key to connection is for both partners to:
Feel Cared for
The research questions are HOW do you feel understood and how do you work towards understanding.
ON TECHNOLOGY: What is the effect that technology has on happiness? Teenagers seem to be less happy today; the question is why? Sonja is asking teenagers to restrict their social media/technology usage and surveying their levels of happiness to figure out the effects of technology on our happiness levels.