Happiness has become a goal. The goal for life used to be survival and perpetuating the species. Now it’s happiness.
An industry has grown up around this desire; an industry pushing us to buy and do and follow their formula to have happiness. As though happiness were a problem to be solved if we only know the right way.
Happiness and Money
Research tells us that money has a correlation with happiness up to about the $60,000 or $75,000 point (depending on whose research you read). After that, there is no increase in happiness with increasing money. The research doesn’t tell us if it’s the number that is significant or the lifestyle it can buy. Given that $60,000 will buy a wide variety of lifestyles based on where you are and your skill at handling money, consider it an average.
Basically what they are saying is that once people have what they consider to be the minimum income to give them the lives they want, anything above that will not make them happier.
When are We Happy?
When asked, people say they are most happy when they are having sex, and least happy when they are talking to their boss. What does this tell us about happiness? In one case we experience good feelings and in the other bad feelings. Does that mean that how we feel causes us to be happy or not?
We control how we feel in any situation. It would follow, then, that we can control how happy we are.
Happiness and Optimism
Happiness is linked to optimism. The more optimistic you are, the happier you are.
We have a happiness steady state that may be shifted due to circumstance (good and bad) but returns quickly to the original state.
Happiness is within our control. That means our happiness or lack of is our fault, if you want to put it that way. It also means that we are the only ones who can make us happy. Depending how you look at it, this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Happiness is intrinsically valuable. It is an end in itself. If you consider money, it is merely the means to get other things. Even food is the means to health and well-being. Happiness, on the other hand, is the end result.
The conclusion I draw from this is that happiness isn’t something to pursue or try to create; it is a result of how we live and how we feel about how we live. If we live ‘The Good Life’ however we define that, and focus on enjoying what’s in front of us we will reach our optimum happiness. Further, I think the pursuit of happiness can introduce a level of stress in our lives that can decrease our enjoyment of life.
If you want more happiness in your life, do what the song says: “Don’t worry. Be Happy.”