“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love”
The pursuit of happiness… We spend a lot of time pursuing what we think will make us happy and what we know will make us happy. We surround ourselves with family and friends, participate in hobbies we enjoy, buy something we want, go to see a movie or a show, try to make more money, accomplish career goals, etc., etc.
There are three topics I find helpful in getting on the path to happiness, which everyone can apply in their own lives. Here they are, and then I will go into detail on each one of them:
1. Hedonic Adaptation
2. Intrinsic Goals
3. Upward Spirals
Hedonic adaptation is the tendency to return to a relatively unwavering level of happiness quite rapidly despite major positive or negative events or life circumstances. Psychologists have determined that there appears to be a hedonic (definition: relating to, or characterised by pleasure) level of happiness in all of us. While outside occurrences may push our overall happiness upward or downward, we usually inevitably return to our own set level of happiness. We get used to things in our lives and then the newness wears off. Basically hedonic adaptation is the notion that for the most part, no matter what happens to you, you tend to adapt to your surroundings and return to a baseline level of happiness.
Here’s a scenario regarding advertisers or entertainers: When advertising, marketing to your customers or entertaining your audience, you want to give them little reminders and hints, or ‘hedonic boosts’ that will create feelings of excitement. That way they can enjoy what you’re giving or presenting to them and keep the enjoyment going before hedonic adaptation does its thing, bringing them back down to that happiness baseline.
Or regarding work: The next time you’re feeling like your job is dull and disappointing, pitch a new project or idea before letting yourself fall below that hedonic adaptation baseline.
You can also get rid of expectations about what happiness should look like. But find a balance because moderating your expectations for everything in your life can lead to unhappiness. For example, you’re about to give a presentation and you want to have high expectations because that can be a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. But at the same time, you don’t want your expectations too high.
Ideas for Work Satisfaction
• React rationally rather than emotionally to stress
• Be passionate, but not obsessive
• Do work that you enjoy
• Work on goals in your own way, not on ways forced on you by others
• Set goals that are challenging, but achievable
There are so many ways to get your mind on the path to happiness not only at work, but also in all areas of your life. Build your relationships, increase spirituality and physical exercise, to name a few. These are all linked to increasing happiness.
Psychologists make a distinction between two important kinds of goals, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic goals encompass activities and projects that are rewarding and meaningful on a personal level and that fulfill people’s basic needs whereas extrinsic goals involve pursuing fame, fortune, and outward appearances. Overall research indicates that focusing on intrinsic goals produce more happiness than by focusing on extrinsic goals.
Intrinsic goals can also trigger ‘upward spirals’, which lead to good moods and pro-social behavior, gaining momentum and reinforcing both, as they grow stronger.
One way to boost your mood or happiness is allowing yourself to get caught up in an upward spiral; your thoughts, behavior, emotions, reactions to others, what life throws at you, etc. So climb aboard the upward spiral and this will help to pull you up. (There’s also a downward spiral, but we don’t want to take that ride. It will just bring us down, making it tough to get out of.)
When we have positive thoughts and feelings, this tends to enhance our happiness, right? So jumping on that upward spiral, we’ll feel more motived to be:
• Open to new challenges
• Not so defensive
• Interested in others
• Flattering and kind
• Resilient to negative situations
1. Give yourself or expose yourself to things that give you hedonic boosts, which keeps you above that happiness baseline
2. Concentrate on intrinsic goals, not extrinsic goals
3. Get yourself on an upward spiral, which leads to happier outcomes