So what is the best path to Happiness?

Smart Researcher reveals some keys to happiness

What is a happy life?  Researcher Jack bauer proposes the following…

Q: Research shows we have a happiness “set point.” How can we alter it?

A: 40% of our happiness levels are changeable through actions, such as purposefully changing our environment or activities. As you move toward activities that build relationships or yield meaning, you’re likely to become happier.   For example, you meet someone you like, or change careers.


Q: What sort of activities lead to increased happiness?

A: Activities in which you are totally immersed and present, and not concerned about self-image or status – FLOW. When people are challenged, but their skills are up to it, they become immersed in the moment. This happens more often at work than at leisure. People are not great at structuring free time in ways that produce this; it’s easier to turn on the TV.

In general, social activities that build relationships, such as sharing a meal, lead to happiness more than isolated activities. But your reasons for engaging in activities matter too.

Q: It’s not just what we do, but WHY we do, something?

A: If you want to be happy, do something because you intrinsically like doing it, you believe it’s important or you want to share it with others. In study after study, in every age group, every income group … we find that people who do things for personally meaningful reasons, rather than to gain status or material goods, are happier. People have multiple motivations. For example, take the college student who wants to be a lawyer. She might love the legal process and feel she can make a difference, but also want money and prestige. What matters is how much she values one or the other.

Psychologists identify two goals of learning: mastery versus performance. Performance goals make us less happy, and are less effective. What matters is your emphasis on one or the other set of values.
Q: Wouldn’t more money make us happier?

A: Once you’re beyond poverty, huge increases in income correspond to very small increases in happiness. As we get that extra pile of cash, and adjust, the new lifestyle becomes the baseline. We adapt. It’s the hedonic treadmill: We exhaust our energies to gain something pleasurable but end up where we started. Plus, we assume higher income leads to higher happiness, but the reverse is true. Increases in happiness precede increases in income. People who are happier get others to like them and their work. Happier people are more optimistic and creative about the future, and invest accordingly.


It also matters how you spend it. Spending $100 on a baseball game or concert is more likely to result in lasting happiness than spending $100 on shoes. In a series of studies, people were given money and directed to spend it on activities or things. Those in the activity group were more likely to reminisce about them, find meaning in them, tire of them more slowly and share them with others. If research has found one overarching key to happiness, it’s spending time with others.

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