Three ingredients of happiness

Three ingredients of happiness

Happiness and its feelings are associated with three tangible phenomena in our lives that we can actually understand and manage: enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning. – Arthur Brooks, Professor & Columnist

The first is satisfaction. True satisfaction comes from achieving something after a struggle. Cheating to get an A on an exam may get you the grade, but not the satisfaction. The challenge with satisfaction isn’t getting it, but keeping it. One achievement doesn’t guarantee lifelong contentment; one must always aim higher. Therefore, the path to genuine satisfaction lies not in having more, but in wanting less. Otherwise, you’ll be on a hedonistic treadmill, striving for more but never being happy.

Enjoyment is the second ingredient. It’s important to distinguish between pleasures and enjoyments. Pleasures are solitary activities – like watching movies or a cricket game – that don’t make you happy. You can turn enjoyment into happiness by combining it with social interaction and memories. Engaging in challenging activities with others makes lasting memories that contribute to happiness over time. Trying to find pleasure through solitary activities can lead to addiction and the endless pursuit of fleeting pleasures.

Lastly, there’s meaning. Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing and why it’s important. Understanding the purpose of your pursuits will help you achieve true happiness through satisfaction, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose. It’s hard to find meaning in life without asking lots of questions. There are many theories and schools of thought for discovering your essence, from atheism to theism.

In his seminal book “The seven habits of highly effective people,” Steven Covey suggests writing your obituary to find meaning. I wrote my obituary following that advice, and it really helped me find meaning.

These three ingredients must be present in abundance and balance: meaning, memory, and enjoyment. When these three elements are abundant and balanced, happiness naturally follows.


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