Happiness is intangible. So how does one know if you have it?
Is it just a feeling?
And if someone does not feel happy, how can they go about achieving that feeling?
We have all heard the saying: ” Money can’t buy you happiness”
Happiness has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing.
Modern man wanted to feel more powerful. He wanted to make his own happiness, to shape it with his own hands and to design his fate or at least outrun it. So, he made tools to feed, clothe and shelter himself. Somewhere along the way, modern man fell in love with the idea of creating a world that separated him from his world and mirrored only his desires. He created an idea of a good life in which each person was happy when his own desires were met.
So our current measures of happiness are connected to our current mindsets about the design of the good life.
Using our current mindset, the good life is defined as one where profits grow (ROI), gross domestic product grows (GDP) and incomes grow. Growth is not the same as prosperity. Economic growth is not proving to be a very good measure of either prosperity or happiness. Prosperity is less about growth and more about thriving.
So ”What in the world is happiness”?
Each individual is thought to have a fixed set point of happiness or life satisfaction determined by genetics and personality.
Social scientists after 40 years of research, attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values.
Events and values might be right but to say that we inherit happiness thought our genes is bull shit because the genes haven’t been identified yet.
There may well be a set point of happiness or life satisfaction. However life events temporarily deflect a person above or below this set point, so in time each individual will adjust to the new circumstances, and return to the given set point.
(Aristotle). “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
Others say that “Life circumstances have a negligible role to play in a theory of happiness.” If this is correct, then there is little that you or I can do to improve our well-being. We “live to work” while others “work to live.”
We are designed to explore, and to experience joy. We need each other and our life support system. We are fragile; we suffer if our air is polluted and our water filled with toxins.
Our new happiness brief should measure how our economy nourishes our bodies, feeds our spirits and encourages our love for each other.
But invisible forces still control us – including the invisible hand of the market, and we are not happy. These invisible costs that are becoming more visible.
We need a new mindset, and to define new measures of happiness that connect our happiness to the happiness of others and to our shared world where our economic growth helps all of life to grow, a world where economies prosper and is serving the people & planet not profit.
But how do we design an economic system that creates economic prosperity so as it increases the happiness of people and the aliveness of our planet?
How do we create a world that is triple bottom line by design? We cannot manufacture a life separate from life; but we can remove Inequalities.
Concerns about broad international or domestic issues, such as war, political or civil liberty, and social equality, are rarely mentioned when it comes to Happiness. Isolated events do control a big fraction of our happiness but they are short-lived.
Personally I’d be much happier if I lived in a world where there was less disparity of income, where the precious fragile environment of our planet was protected, where so many creatures were not threatened with extinction, where the numbers of our human species was stable and lived in balance with our natural world.
We need to enjoy what we have.
And what is that?
It is nothing without a sense of purpose.
You could choose to pursue faith, family, community and work but unfortunately without a sense of purpose they will contribute little to you overall happiness.
Money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live. But once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness. So relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not.
You can measure your earned success in any currency you choose. You can count it in dollars, sure — or in children taught to read, habitats protected or souls saved.
It is not enough to assume that our system blesses each of us with equal opportunities. If we had a fair system that allowed for child care, health care ,education and retirement (can you say Sweden?) then people would have the basics and could practice this idea of doing what fulfills them. It doesn’t entail “anything goes” liberalism, but self-government and self-control. And it certainly doesn’t imply that unfettered greed is laudable or even acceptable.
We need schools that serve children’s civil rights instead of adults’ job security. We need to encourage job creation for the most marginalized and declare war on barriers to entrepreneurship at all levels, from hedge funds to hedge trimming. And we need to revive our moral appreciation for the cultural elements of success.
However, in our inequality system taken over by the Rich, that is not an option. The view that money makes you happier finds ringing endorsement in economic theory. Free enterprise does not mean shredding the social safety net, but championing policies that truly help vulnerable people and build an economy that can sustain these commitments. It doesn’t mean reflexively cheering big business, but leveling the playing field so competition trumps cronyism.
Contrary to what economic theory assumes, more money does not make people happier. We and our Governments allocate an excessive amount of time to monetary goals. We must also clear up misconceptions surrounding just as to what Happiness is.
Valuing happiness is not necessarily linked to greater happiness. In fact, under certain conditions, the opposite is true. Under conditions of low (but not high) life stress, the more people valued happiness, the lower were their hedonic balance, psychological well-being, and life satisfaction, and the higher their depression symptoms.
There are, of course, other life circumstances that have enduring effects on happiness. Take friendships, for example. Most people could increase their happiness by devoting less time to making money, and more to non pecuniary goals such as family life and health.
Instead, it is the things that occupy most people’s everyday life, and are somewhat within their control, that are typically in the fore front of personal concerns – especially making a living, marriage and family, and health.
There is nothing one can do, at least at present, about one’s genes, and very little that most of us can do about our personalities. Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others.
This is a world in which there are so many opportunities to be happy, it would be impossible to take advantage of all of them.
A good life is a fully human life, a life that included surprise and wonder, a life that is fragile and finite – we have not forgotten – it is “wired in.”
Don’t be fooled by High Tech Companies that are beginning to design and deliver happiness to their customers, employees and to our shared world. They are designing their brand identity around the promise of triple bottom line by design. They are endeavoring to creating economic value not Happiness as they claim by serve society.
What we thought would make us happy yesterday doesn’t make us happy today. Before we know it, we have become dependent upon what we think we need to keep us happy, whether it makes us happy or not. We have become other-dependent.
Over the past three decades, technology has delivered to us a world in which we need not be out of contact for a fraction of a moment –Facebook users generated an average of 2.7 billion “likes” and comments every day.
Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.
Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?
“Most of the links declared within Twitter are meaningless from an interaction point of view.” I have to wonder: What other point of view is meaningful?
Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting and superficial behavior. The illusion of distance with the illusion of intimacy.
A connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated happier version of humanity.
Facebook, of course, puts the pursuit of happiness front and center in our digital life. Its capacity to redefine our very concepts of identity and personal fulfillment is much more worrisome than the data-mining and privacy practices that have aroused anxieties about the company. Facebook imprisons us in the business of self-presenting, and this, to my mind, is the site’s crucial and fatally unacceptable downside. The problem with digital intimacy is that it is ultimately incomplete. Celebration of the self, that breaks away from the constrictions of the family and the state, and, in its greatest expressions, from all limits entirely is a sure recipe for Unhappiness.
There are subtle differences between happiness and life satisfaction along with contrasting theories of well-being – one in psychology, one in economics. Advocates of free enterprise have been too slow to recognize this. We need to fight for the policies and culture that will reverse troubling mobility trends.
So if you were asked: ”How satisfied are you with your life as a whole – very, somewhat, so-so, not very, or not at all?” What would your answer be?
It is the decision to actually be happy that brings happiness.
To be able to change roads to the one that made you truly happy.
Most of us it would seem, would readily sacrifice family life for what they think will be greater rewards from their working life, not knowing that these rewards are likely to be illusory.
Public policies aimed at making people better off by improving their social and economic conditions are fruitless economics places particular stress on the importance of life circumstances to well-being, particularly one’s income and employment situation.
Success is to often defined by the dream of becoming rich or powerful and the belief that everyone is on a level playing field to get what they want.
When even the rich and famous are not happy – maybe we should worry?
Perhaps Happiness it is all down to Endorphins & Dopamine. Then again may be it is truly unattainable in this life but it does not stop us from asking.
What do people want out of life – what is needed for their lives to be completely happy? This Is the real caught two question.
I suppose giving to others and living life with a dose of humor is as good as any key to happiness.
Let me know what you think.