Yes today most people score well on the evaluating parameters that govern happiness, yet are unhappy.
A recent intimate 3AM conversation with a friend got me thinking about happiness in our lives and what truly governs it . She said “I have everything. I should be very happy. But I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel happy.”
A shocking confession from a lady who is amongst the top 5% highly paid professional citizens in her country. Good looking, intelligent, blessed with 2 beautiful kids, married to a good guy.
It indicates that there is a significant GAP between our list of parameters that determine the existence of happiness and its real state.
The article here is inline with and is adding on my personal views to Dr. Daniel Kahneman’s ( Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics), theory of “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” and how they perceive happiness differently.
I break down the happiness molecule into 3 components :
1. Experiential happiness
2. Happiness gained from consuming memories
3. Reflective Happiness
1. Experiential Happiness
We derive this happiness from the actual experiencing of the activity in the moment. Each psychological moment lasts about 3 seconds, and then it becomes a memory. This form of happiness is the shortest lived.
Money can influence this part of happiness, to an extent. The more money you have, supposedly better experiences you can buy.
2. Happiness from memories
Moments are very short lived, and hence majority of our happiness is extracted from memories or by remembering these moments. However it’s important to understand that, a happy experience may not compulsorily result in a happy memory. For e.g. You are watching a movie that is great for 1 hour 45 minutes but the last 15 minutes- the ending is rather abrupt and disturbing. Although the 1 hour 45 minutes of the 2 hours was great experience, your memory of the experience will not be positive.
Happiness from memories has an emotional dominance – emotions rule them.
3. Reflective Happiness
This is the happiness you derive from reflecting on the overall picture of your cumulative experiences. Like what did you learn or achieve from this experience ? In Reflective happiness – Purpose dominates.
This type of happiness has the longest lasting effect.
Now when someone says “I have everything, but I am not happy. I don’t know why ?”
Majority of the times, this points to lack of either reflective happiness and/or sometimes happiness from memories.
With this knowledge of the construct of happiness let us now see 14 tips to maximize happiness in life.
1. Be your authentic self. Spend your moments who accept you as you.
2. Travel the world. Create great experiences.
3. Stay away from people who drain you – emotionally.
4. Create memories with yourself. Spend time doing some activity that you enjoy with yourself.
Happiness from memories
Strive to keep the ending sweet. It is normal for friends, lovers, family to fight have disagreements. But never leave an experience with unresolved issues or bad note, make up, apologise, thank, find a solution- smile, hug before you leave the place.
6. Sometimes when an important experience does end bad, try to force yourself to view the experience and its ending separately. This however can be very tough for certain personality types.
7. Try to space out fun, instead of concentrating all such activities together. This gives you more happy memory points with a longer spread.
8. Take pictures of happy times and keep them easily accessible- preferably in separate albums. Visit these pictures at regular intervals. When you increase the times you revisit those memories you increase the total happiness you extract from that memory.
9. Pursue your passion. Do things that make your soul smile.
10. Keep investing in Self growth.
11. Help and love people without an agenda.
12. Work for a cause.
13. Always see the bigger picture and understand how what you do contributes to achieving it.
14. Know your measures of personal success and plan your current moments around achieving them. Periodically evaluate yourself agains these measures and pat yourself for your progress.
Happiness is an inside job. Yes it truly is, especially once you understand it’s construct you can work towards creating it within yourself.