So…in trying to understand more about what “happiness” is, I listened to “The Happiness Hypothesis” – by Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and professor at NYU, and was very impressed by his consolidation of old and new, science and belief. Some of the below is from this link
The rider represents / is your thoughts. The wild elephant doesn’t. Unhappiness comes from the rider and the elephant disagreeing, and happiness can come from closing the gap
40% is in your head
10% is due to your circumstances.
Reciprocity is the principle on which we interact, which is why you feel guilty if you don’t return a favor . We feel so strongly about it, that we’d prefer to get nothing, rather than receiving an unfair share.
Next to your relationships, your work is one of the few factors that matters a lot to your happiness.
The adaptation principle shows that whatever lucky event or adversity we face, we get used to it. A study showing that people who won the lottery and people who became paralyzed both returned to their baseline happiness levels after one year.
However, what you spend your time working on is one of those external circumstances that has a big impact, thanks to the progress principle. It says that we draw much more happiness from working towards a goal, rather than reaching it.
So try to find meaningful work you’re good at – as Confucius says: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Your most important relationship in your life will likely be the one with your partner or spouse. But on your quest for love, don’t just rely on passion. No matter how much “in love” you are at the beginning of the relationship, it naturally fades – and that’s okay.
Haidt says we must seek to develop companionate love, which is what best friends, brothers, sisters and family members share. Having someone at your side through the ups and downs of life, sharing your joy and sadness and exploring and learning together creates a much stronger bond, which can last you a lifetime, but it takes time to develop.
So don’t give up a relationship once passion fades, but give your companionate love time to develop.
The rider and the elephant might also disagree about who you are. For example your rider can try to preserve your image of being an efficient, career-driven manager who works out and is on a good diet, while your elephant just wants to goof off, go hang out with his buddies and binge on junk food.
It often takes a crisis for us to see these differences, which is why adversity can make us happier. This is especially true for people in their teens and twenties, who spend a lot of time thinking and looking for meaning in their lives. A crisis gives you the chance to see what the elephant really wants and help the rider adjust your self-image to match your true desires.
Lastly, we need to feel connected to something greater than ourselves, which is why religion has a place in our lives. Even if you’re an atheist, you probably believe in karma, destiny or fortune. That’s a good thing! Belief gives us a sense of awe, because it makes us realize that we’re a small part of something much greater.
To sum up:
- Surround yourself with the people you love the most and live in accordance with reciprocity
- Do work that matters to you
- Find a partner who will stand by your side through sunshine and rain
- Allow yourself to be part of something greater
Try it – leave me comments!