Happiness is not the same as pleasure
While pleasure is correlated with happiness, pursuing pleasure does not cause happiness.
People who focus their energy on materialistic and superficial pleasures end up more anxious and less happy in the long run. Pleasure is necessary, but it's insufficient.
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Happiness, like other emotions, is not something you acquire. It is something you are.
This implies that happiness is not a goal that you can reach. It is a side effect of a particular set of ongoing life experiences.
Achieving a difficult long-term goal makes us happy. But once you reach the goal, there will be another thing to pursue to make you happy.
That is because our ideal self is always a few steps away from us. What matters is not that we achieve the plateaus of success, but that we're continually moving towards them.
Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game. Completing a marathon makes us happier than eating chocolate.
These activities involve pain, struggle, even anger, and despair. But once you have completed them, you look back and feel happy because these kinds of events allow us to become our ideal selves.
Failing to meet your own expectations is not the opposite of happiness. Your ability to fail and still appreciate the experience is key to happiness.
The joy is not in getting what you want, but the process of working towards it, then raising the bar, and doing it again. If you fail, learn from it.
We don't always need to be positive, even if that is constantly marketed to us. We will have trouble. Things go wrong. People upset us. Mistakes are made that make us negative. It's all part of life.
Negative emotions are necessary, but we need to learn to express them in a socially acceptable way that aligns with our values.
For many people, the pursuit of happiness is the meaning of life itself.
However, Friedrich Nietzsche saw the pursuit of happiness as a pointless waste of human life. He was instead dedicated to the idea of finding meaning in life where people are willing to undertake great suffering in the name of a goal they have set.
Listening to your gut or "just doing what feels right" may not be the best way to make a decision.
According to a series of studies where managers tried to detect an interviewee's emotions, they were able to assess the situation more accurately when they thought systematically than when they just relied on intuition.
Studies have found that just having negative feelings isn’t enough to lead to depressive symptoms. You also have to be unable to put a name to your feeling state, and then dwell on trying to identify it, to be at risk of depression.
It’s important, without ruminating, to try to identify negative emotions so you can move on, relying on methods proven to be successful against that particular emotion. Some people may just have a tendency to experience emotions intensely, but this factor is an independent contributor to feelings of depression.
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