Self-improvement and happiness - Deepstash

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Why Self-Help Might Actually Be Making You Less Happy

Self-improvement and happiness

  • Be interested in something beyond yourself. Go into the world instead of looking at yourself.
  • Try not to be so obsessed with happiness. Life is not just about being happy.
  • If you pursue valuable and meaningful activities, you will attain happiness as a side effect more than as something you are able to pursue directly.
  • Meaning is often something you discover rather than something you choose. Saying happiness is a choice is a lie because happiness depends on more factors than you can control.

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Chasing after the next goal

In our consumer culture, we end up buying more and doing more. To be satisfied is almost considered an offense because it means you're not chasing after the next thing.

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Missing out on life

Taking secularization into account, the idea that we don't live in order to obtain some kind of salvation in the afterlife leads to the belief that we have to achieve everything we desire in the here and now.

If we miss out on anything in this life, it is seen as some kind of existential failure. Carried to an extreme, it is tragic because it's rarely a recipe for a good life.

The joy of missing out

We gain from it the chance to engage in activities and experiences that are deeper and more meaningful. Because the mentality of fearing that we will miss out makes us always worried that something better might be waiting for us.

And moving through life, where everything becomes a means to the next thing, prevents us from understanding that certain things are inherently valuable and meaningful in and of themselves.

Happiness
Happiness

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 se...

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.

Lowering one’s expectations

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. 

Elements of well-being
Elements of well-being

Well-being can be broken into five elements:

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

If you improve ...

Wired for pessimism

Pessimism comes naturally to people because thinking about the bad stuff that could happen helps us to prepare for survival.

The problem is that pessimists think bad events are permanent and unchangeable. "I think my interview is going to be a disaster." We need to learn to recognize what we're saying to ourselves and then argue against it. "I've done many interviews in my life, and they generally turn out well."

The need for hope

Meditation - mindfulness, focusing on the moment - is an excellent anti-anxiety, anti-anger tool..But accepting suffering and finding contentment in that means you can't move into doing something good in the future.

One important idea is hope. Positive human future doesn't come about by accident - it needs hopeful people who plan for it and make it happen.