happi·ness n.

Happiness is more than just a word to describe an emotional state – I believe it is life’s meaning. And, my life’s pursuit.

It affects all that we do and we should ask ourselves continuously what we can do to craft, inject and sustain more happiness into our lives.

2009 delivered a significant and unexpected change in my life. It made me realise that happiness involves ingredients that I can’t control, but with me as the chef I can control and create what I would like with whatever I have. With how little or how much I have in my ‘cupboard’ at any one time.

I like the following quote:

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~David Brinkley

Something I like to remember as much in business as in life – things are always going to happen that we don’t ever expect to, but it how our unwritten contingency plans back up that reveal our true strength of character. And, happiness affects character.

I also think it’s important to differentiate between states of happiness: short- and long-term. If I were to chart my short-term happiness, it would look like the first graph below. Peaks of gratification, and troughs where I have to realign and be dynamic with my expectations.

Short-term Happiness

But I’m proud when I look my long-term happiness and see the following general linear relationship. I’d hope the same for everyone else.

Long-term Happiness

If you haven’t watched the following TED Talk yet, it’s something for your weekend. Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness:

So, what is your version of happiness?

For me, I find my version every once in a while when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror… and smile back. A friend to myself. A literal visualisation of my happiness.

8 thoughts on “2010: the pursuit of (further) happiness

  1. We all want happiness, like we want money, good relationships/family etc.
    The problem is, once we got what we were looking for, it doesn’t satisfy us anymore.

    What we really want is fulfillment. The feelings like happines and love come automatically on the way to fulfillment. But we can’t conserve them forever. You can’t be happy and over the top all the time. Every human being needs balance and for every up, there is a down. It’s just that when we are fulfilled, then the downs are simply calmer times instead of depressions.

    Searching only happiness is as one sided as searching only riches or love or god. Nothing alone fulfills us. It’s the combination of all.

  2. Great points Erik and thanks for the comment.

    I think it depends on what an individual’s version of happiness is. And, I think you can be incredibly fulfilled in life but still unhappy.

    If I were stripped back of everything that is me and all that I have, and placed rawly in an environment without any comforts, and as a result… were still happy – I’d be proud of what I’d found.

    1. I agree! Being a web programmer and a deisgner, I find when I apply for jobs or projects I get the Oh! your a girl who likes to program?!? That’s awesome! And I usually end up working with mostly men. I just think that girls like me who grew up with an interest in technology are pretty rare. I think that technology should be presented to todays little girls as an exciting and creative industry. The technology sector could use more of a feminine touch.

  3. I think the point is: If you are fulfilled, unhappiness can only be temporary for some special reason. Because something sad happened for instance. But if you are not fulfilled, you can be unhappy for no special reason all the time.

  4. Hello me again. I’m becoming a Kate Kendall stalker and it scares me :)
    I’m reading ur blog from the fb link. (hehe you’d like that as a marketer.. a bit of research for free :)

    It’s funny how we give or need material objects for happiness and the first step(or definition) to happiness we conjure up may be taking them away. Happiness is well I don’t know what it is but I can say that was also something Buddha tried as he was searching for happiness. Or perhaps better put, a step. I think it may have been his first, from which he learned.
    I wonder what would make those dips in the graph move up. Like you said, you deal with those dips by reviewing and shifting your expectations. ‘What goes up must go down’ doesn’t apply here.
    oh and if you brought the squiggly line up a notch it’d still be the same only relative to other happiness so that would explain the ‘not satisfied theory’ Erik brought up.
    As for your question. My version of happiness. What makes me happy is making other people happy (if only briefly). Why do you think Buddha is so happy hehe.
    Well I think it is great so many people are asking really good questions. it is suffering that brings us to search for happiness. The more you suffer, your own pain or others, the more you search so it makes sense that our first idea is to cause more suffering or that suffering will bring us closer. Me? I’ve suffered enough. :) you can borrow some if you want? hehe
    note: If I’ve changed the rules it’s only to suit me.

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