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Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy

Tying happiness to outcomes

It is not good to tie your happiness to outcomes since that can affect your happiness.

Overcoming some obstacles might pose more obstacles, while other events that we thought would be bad for us might make us grow and learn.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy

Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/why-so-many-smart-people-arent-happy/479832/

theatlantic.com

5

Key Ideas

Things that make us happy

  • Having meaningful social relationships
  • Being very good at something you do
  • Having the freedom to make life decisions independently.

Three things that don't necessarily contribute to your happiness:

  • Being better educated
  • Being richer
  • Being more accomplished

Irrelevant criteria

We know what will make us happy, but we don't know how to measure it. We measure our success by using social comparisons, like a salary, or with awards.

Because people tend to use vague criteria, they are never satisfied when they reach it and always want more. This leads to an unsustainable source of happiness.

Do what you enjoy

If you do what you enjoy and are naturally good at, and if you focus on it long enough, you will probably advance toward mastery anyway, and fame and money will be a byproduct.

Scarcity vs abundance oriented

We view the world in one of two ways:

  • Scarcity-minded approach: My win will make someone else lose. The scarcity mindset plays an important role when we have to fight for our survival.
  • Abundance-oriented approach: There is room for everybody to grow. Doing something meaningful, instead of focussing on a goal, contributes to a happier life overall.

Tying happiness to outcomes

It is not good to tie your happiness to outcomes since that can affect your happiness.

Overcoming some obstacles might pose more obstacles, while other events that we thought would be bad for us might make us grow and learn.

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Frugality

Frugality means resisting the temptation to spend more than you earn.

Discipline

Self-made millionaires choose moderation over extremes. They often buy used cars, don't live in the most expensive houses and don't try to time the investment market.

Hard Work

A defining characteristic of many millionaires are their willingness to work hard and stick it out in high-paying careers until they are financially independent.

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Studying happiness
Studying happiness

Religion, philosophy, and the arts have long considered happiness a subject important to study. 

The sciences, however, have only recently caught up:...

Subjective well-being = Genes + Circumstances + Habits
  • Subjective well-being is preferred by social scientists instead of happiness because it's not so vague and subjective. 
  • Research shows there is a big genetic component in determining the baseline you always seem to return to after events sway your mood.
  • Circumstances could make up between 10- and 40 percent of your subjective well-being. But their effects never last very long.
  • The one variable that affects long-term well-being and is under our control: habits.
Habits = Faith + Family + Friends + Work
Constant happiness comes from human relationships, meaningful work, and the transcendental elements of life:
  • Faith doesn’t mean any faith in particular. Just find a structure through which you can contemplate life’s deeper questions.
  • When it comes to your family and friendships and how they should be, just cultivate and maintain loving, faithful relationships. There is no magic formula.
  • What makes work meaningful is not the kind of work it is, but the sense it gives you that you are earning your success and serving others.

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Benjamin Franklin

“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fo..."

Benjamin Franklin
The happiest countries
Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden are ranked among the top happiest places in the world. 

Their population enjoys a healthy work-life balance, high standards of living with less pressure, less stress, and more time for everything they enjoy and love doing.

"Lagom"

It's part of the Swedish culture. It means “Not too little. Not too much. Just right.

The concept encourages an overarching balance across our lives: everything in moderation.

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Adaptation and happiness

Adaptation is the enemy of happiness.

We buy things to make us happy. And they do, but only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.

Experiences vs. Objects

Objects fade and become part of the new normal. So you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling. 

Experiences really are part of ourselves. We are the sum total of our experiences.

Shared experiences

They connect us more than shared consumption.

Even if someone wasn’t with you when you had a particular experience, you’re much more likely to bond over both having hiked the Appalachian Trail or seeing the same show than you are over both owning Fitbits.

Turn Small Decisions Into Routines

Decision-making works like a muscle: as you use it over the course of the day, it gets too exhausted to function effectively.

One way to avoid this is to eliminate smaller decisions by t...

Make Big Decisions In The Morning

Save small decisions for after work (when decision fatigue kicks in) and to tackle complex decisions in the morning, when your mind is fresh

A similar strategy is to do some of the smaller things the night before to get a head start on the next day.

Pay Attention To Your Emotions

...and you'll able to look at decisions as objectively and rationally as possible.

Strong decision-makers know that a bad mood can make them lash out or stray from their moral compass just as easily as a good mood can make them overconfident and impulsive.

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The relationship with yourself

Your only stable and lifelong relationship is with yourself. 

Because of this, it is the most important one you are going to have and, one that you will need to nurture if you want to le...

Discover who you are

Self-discovery is essential for self-acceptance:

  • What gives you purpose: What are you passionate about? What is something that you could picture doing for the rest of your life?
  • Learn about your values and beliefs: Do you rely on honesty and integrity to live your life? What type of community do you want to build or belong to?
  • Track your day-to-day: What are some things that you like to do? What are some habits that you have cultivated, healthy or otherwise? What are your dreams?
Accept what you can't change

Consuming mental energy on wishing you can change things that are never going to change is a waste of your time and will inevitably lead to sadness.

There are some things that you will be able to change in your life and, there are some things that will simply be for the rest of your life.

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Count your blessings

Spend 5 to 10 minutes at the end of each day writing in detail about three things that went well that day, large or small, and also describing why you think they happened.

Mental subtraction

You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. 

Consider the many ways in which important, positive events in your life—such as a job opportunity or educational achievement—could have never taken place, and then reflecting on what your life would be like without them.

Savor

We have a tendency to adapt to pleasurable things—a phenomenon called “hedonic adaptation”—and appreciate them less and less over time. 

We can interrupt this process by trying the Give it Up practice, which requires temporarily giving up pleasurable activities and then coming back to them later, this time with greater anticipation and excitement.

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Defining "Success"

“Success” isn’t just having lots of money. 

Success is continuously improving who you are, how you live, how you serve, and how you relate.

Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.

Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.
Putting "first things" first

Start the day with your #1 priority.

Getting up early isn’t enough. You need to put first things first. When you put your top priorities first, then you ensure they make it into the bucket of your day. After your main priorities have been completed, the rest will fill the gaps.

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