Avoiding extremes—both surfeit and deficiency—is a wisdom preached by Aristotle, Confucius, Aquinas, and many other thinkers and writers. The prescription applies to working too hard versus too little, parenting by decree versus neglect, and pursuing happiness too earnestly versus not at all.
Imagine returning to the home where you grew up, opening the door, and walking right back into your childhood or youth? What would you learn about yourself and your life story? How would you live your life differently today?
Much has been said and written about whether money makes people happy, and the conclusions offered can differ radically, depending on which psychologists, economists, or commentators we listen to. Indeed, the data are confusing and contradictory. I offer here the take-home message in a nutshell. (Excerpt from The Myths of Happiness.)
One of my favorite definitions of the emotion happy is that you are happy when you want to keep doing what you’re doing. Mihail Csikszentmihalyi has spent his career studying the experience of flow – a state characterized by being so absorbed in what you’re doing that you don’t notice the passage of time; you are completely unselfconscious.
I have four kids, so I can attest to the truism that children are the source of our greatest joy and our greatest sorrow. Kids give our lives purpose, infuse us with fun and pride, and enrich our identities. At the same time, they are also vectors for worry, anger, and disappointment; they deprive us of sleep; and they strain our finances and marriages.
The holidays are rife with Pollyannaish expectations. We look forward to them all year long, cutting out holiday recipes, writing to-do lists, researching gifts, and making travel plans. Science shows, however, that such high expectations are frequently both erroneous and toxic.
Studies reveal that although there is a significant relationship between income and well being, it isn’t as straightforward, or as strong, as we might think. Research shows that as long as our basic needs are met, it's how we spend our money—not how much we possess—that has the greater influence on our happiness.
Recent surveys show that more Americans than ever are dissatisfied with their jobs. Some are burned out or bored, while others feel that their dream job or professional success has eluded them...But will a new (dream) job really make us happier?
Nearly all of us buy into the myths of happiness—beliefs that certain adult achievements (marriage, wealth) will make us forever happy and that certain adult failures or adversities (illness, divorce) will make us forever unhappy. Overwhelming research evidence, however, reveals that there is no magic formula for happiness and no sure course toward misery.
The most compelling stories heard about Olympians are stories of redemption—of overcoming adversity to reach new heights, of suffering being redeemed. Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated, yet grew up to sprint in the 2012 Olympics. Bryshon Nellum endured agonizing years of recovery after being shot in the legs, yet carries the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremonies.
The reason I rarely take any pleasure in Facebook is that it "ordinizes" our friends, family members, acquaintances, and colleagues. It takes unique individuals who have intriguing hidden sides and qualities and turns them into ordinary, unremarkable, and sometimes even boring people.
The evidence is unequivocal that being married is correlated with happiness. The evidence is also unequivocal that the causal direction goes both ways. That is, having a strong marriage may make us happy, but those of us who are happy to begin with appear to be more likely to attract a marriage partner and to erect an enduring and fulfilling partnership.
Isn't it amazing how some days we wake up and the world seems beautiful—full of wonder, kindness, heroism, and brilliance? But other days, we wake to a conviction that the world is miserly and ugly, that the people around us are malevolent and small-minded, that the mole on our shoulder is cancerous, that our past is wasted, and our future is bleak.
in my mind, one of the biggest misconceptions about money is that it can't make us happy - or rather, that the joys it offers can be only faint and fleeting. As it happens, a growing social science of money is showing how we can compensate for some of its damaging effects by getting the most out of our spending. The conclusion is that if we want to buy happiness, we need to wring as many rewarding and stretching experiences from our purchases as possible.
Why does having kids reduce our happiness? When posed on his late-night eponymous show, Stephen Colbert deemed the answer obvious: "Because children are a pain in the ass."Undoubtedly they are, but I think the question is worth exploring further.
Do you remember what the 2008 presidential election felt like? Do you remember the moment you realized that an African-American candidate, peddling hope and change, had a bona fide shot at winning the White House? Notwithstanding your party affiliation - was that not electrifying?How quickly we forget.
I met my husband, Peter, rather randomly, at all-the-Absolut-you-could-drink benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art. Had we not met that night, we probably never would have ever chanced upon each other. Had one of us ventured several footsteps to the right or the left that evening, my husband, my children and my home might be subtracted from the life I lead today.
Always emphasizing how much of our happiness is within our control, Sonja Lyubomirsky addresses the "scientific how" of her happiness research, demystifying the many myths that unnecessarily complicate its pursuit.