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Saturday, November 1, 2008

What makes you happy?

In my book, The Core of Happiness, I've suggested that there are really two kinds of happiness.

One is content-based happiness. This is the stuff that society is obsessed with. This is literally the "stuff" in our lives or the "stuff" we hope to have in our lives. In our commercial world, we are inundated with news of all the new things that the marketers and merchants have to sell us. And, of course, the idea is that these things are going to make our life better...more happy, right?

The other type of happiness is process-based happiness. This comes with living life happily. We know we have achieved this ultimate level of happiness we we can actually sit back and enjoy the scenery on a detoured roadway. Much more on this in future blogs.

Despite the great emphasis on content-based happiness, I think that process-based happiness is actually responsible for 90% or more of people's enduring happiness.

Ever watch a three-year old child open a birthday or Christmas gift? They typically spend thirty seconds looking at the toy, then spend the next long while playing with the destroyed wrapping paper and the gift box. We adults are not too much different: we get bored easily. And, as a result, many get into the habit of chasing hedonic feelings by becoming serial shopaholics.

But being a shopaholic doesn't improve one's lot in life and it doesn't improve one's happiness. Study after study has shown this. And if that's not enough, plus it's rather expensive.

All this begs a question. What things did you seek that you thought were going to make you happy, but they ultimately did not? I'd love for you to share your stories.

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