Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. -Confucius
After doing a ton of research for “The Science of Happiness” article, I had an epiphany that I wanted to share. Happiness is simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, it can actually be quite hard to achieve, but the basic principles behind happiness are surprisingly simple. It dawned on me a few days ago. Suddenly, everything that I’ve learned about life made sense. During my research, I came across a scientific definition of happiness. It looked a little fancy at first, but I believe it all boils down to this: we are happy when our life is made up of many good moments and few bad ones. This can only mean one thing:
To be happy, we should strive to have as many good moments, and as few bad ones as possible.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
I’m not sure why I needed to delve so deeply into scientific literature to come to this realization. In retrospect, I like to imagine that I knew it all along – but I didn’t. The reason I didn’t is because society taught me something completely different.
To be happy, I was told to get a good (aka. prestigious) career! Then, when it comes to money, there is way too much societal pressure to buy expensive stuff. As if driving a fancy car or living in a big house gives you an edge on happiness. And when it came to relationships and happiness, all this talk of love at first sight and soul mates will confuse just about anyone. While I have been detaching myself from such beliefs for a long time, it is only now that everything came together.
So I think I’ve finally figured out a “recipe” for how to be happy, based directly on how scientists define happiness. It really doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s we, as a society, who have made it complicated. It’s actually very simple.
From now on, I’m going to look at all parts of my life, and ask myself: does this give me more happy moments than bad? Or, as I’m going to call it, is this thing happy positive? If it doesn’t, is there truly any way to make it so that it does? This requires some introspection and for me to be honest with myself, but I believe I can do that. And if it’s not possible to, I’m going to drop it and find something else.
I’m going to break it down into some clear examples.
Simple career advice for happiness
Scientists agree that job satisfaction is important for our happiness. Given how they define happiness, it only makes sense. We spend so much of our time at work. A very large number of our moments, be they good or bad, happen at work. Hating your job makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to love your life. If we spend most of our day unhappy at work, there simply aren’t enough moments left in the day to make it happy positive.
Your job doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to make you a lot of money (more about that soon). Just pick something that you like, and do it. Find a job that’s happy positive!
Many of us have passions. We know what our dream job would be. If you have the guts, go for it! Pursue your passion! Find work that you love! It could make a world of a difference for your overall happiness.
But, if you don’t know what your passion is, or for whatever reason can’t/won’t pursue it, not all is lost. If you hate your job, simply switching to something that you at least like could make you a lot happier. Sometimes it’s about going for something less prestigious. Sometimes it’s about taking the pay cut (perhaps only temporarily). Don’t let a fear of change keep you stuck in a job that drains the life out of you! Embrace change!
So take a chance. Do it for yourself. Do it for happiness. Become happy positive!
Simple money advice for happiness
I learned that money can be used to improve our happiness, provided you use it to increase the number of happy moments in your life. Scientists recommend spending more money on experiences, and less on material things. If you spend your money buying experiences you enjoy, you are buying good moments, which directly make you happier.
We should also spend money on many small pleasures, instead of few big ones. The idea is to generate as many positive moments as possible!
Finally, consider how money can also be used to reduce the number of bad moments. Instead of spending to acquire things or good moments, try to reduce the number of bad moments, as well! You may like to cook, clean, garden, or fix things around the house. Or you maybe not. If you don’t, try to set some of your spending money aside to hire some help. Not only do you reduce your negative moments, but you free up time to do things that create positive moments! Double the bang for your buck!
Simple relationship advice for happiness
How happy positive (or negative) is your time with your partner? If you’re happy negative, then your partner is draining the happiness out of your life. It doesn’t matter why the good or bad moments happen, if this is a regular pattern, you need to fix it or cut it loose. While it is normal to go through rough patches, these should be few and far between. If you take a step back and look at your relationship as a whole, it should be happy positive. If it’s not, then it can’t possibly make you happy. And if you stop and think for a moment, the relationship probably isn’t making them happy either.
Nothing, and nobody, is worth your happiness.
On the other hand, if you have a happy positive relationship, then consider yourself lucky! You’ve got a keeper!
HAPPINESS IS SIMPLE
That’s it. Happiness is simple. Evaluating your life in this way, and trying to make changes won’t be easy, but it makes so much sense!
Your happiness matters. Your time on this earth matters. Your moments count. Take your life, and your happiness, seriously! Make the effort to create an overwhelmingly happy positive life, with as many good moments in it as you possibly can. The science tells us you will be a lot happier.