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The staples of happiness

People will always be happy when they see their children prosper when they feel loved, secure, and well-fed.

But, this formula for happiness is so obvious that most people dismiss it. They would rather look for a secret ingredient. The answer is that there is no secret.

@holdenioo309

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Human nature is more than biology

The level of happiness is part of our genetic makeup - we have a set level and cannot rise above or fall below it.

Some scientists envision the day that we can manipulate our happiness genes with precise nanoscale technologies. These mood bots will travel inside us to a part of the brain and manually turn on genes to up or down our happiness set point. But, scientists assure us that we are more than biology and that a mood bot will not guarantee happy and satisfying lives.

Happiness has always been difficult to quantify because it is subjective, depending on if you have a short- or a long-term outlook on life. Recently, researchers have started to distinguish between two types of happiness: 

  • Hedonic happiness that provides a mental high;
  • Eudaimonic happiness, a sense of well-being which involves a life well-lived.

The most compelling evidence on the importance of relationships comes from a long term study that started in 1938. Selected college sophomores who seemed to be destined for success, were followed.

In 1967 the files were merged with the Glueck Study that followed a group of poor, non-delinquent white kids from Boston's inner city.

The most important finding from these studies: The quality of our relationships is the only thing that matters in our lives.

The quality of people's relationships is more important than we imagine.

Material success and psychological feelings of well-being are linked to good relationships. So is physical health.

Close relationships and connections keep you happy and healthy.

Struggling to connect in a overly connected world

We live in an increasingly networked society online, but we struggle to connect with our relations around the dinner table. We sacrifice conversations close to us for a mere connection online.

The result is that we drive ourselves toward a lonely future.

Research has found that people who use different mediums, like talking on the phone, emailing each other and also seeing each other, tend to have stronger relationships with one another.

Even though technology might become more and more invasive, the reality is that the source of happiness will remain unaltered.

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Ways to give yourself a happiness boost:

  • Choosing activities that fit our personality and interests, feel natural, are enjoyable and aligned with our values.
  • Choosing meaningful and virtuous activities, instead of just going after pleasurable ones.
  • Practicing forgiveness and gratitude.
  • Trying to pursue a purpose.
  • Committing to new habits by making an effort.
  • Adding variety and diversity to our routine.

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IDEAS

Productive solitude

Solitude doesn't have to be a negative experience.

Productive solitude happens when we deliberately seek alone time. And this time should not be used for overthinking negative experiences, but for positive reflection and contemplation or for doing something we enjoy.

Subjective well-being

This is the primary way Positive Psychology researchers have defined and measured people's happiness and well-being.

It's defined as your evaluations of your own life and your moods and emotions (that's why it's labeled as "subjective").