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On happiness: a simple way to a bit more happiness.

10 May

Happiness is not a problem, we make it one.
We perceive it as one!

You’d think that if I felt miserable, I’d just go and do the opposite form whatever’s making me miserable. But it’s not so easy, is it? So many things tie us down and so many things we perceive as important take precedence over our own happiness.

For me, it’s work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a lazy person. Far from it. I enjoy working, and have been working since I was about 14 doing everything from massages to system administration. I love to work and later spend the money I made. But the way we work nowadays is what really tires me. Cubicles, white tiles and the sound of never stopping printing machines.

But let me not get into that. I want to see if I can come up with some guidelines on how to live better, for my own sake as much as yours.

Today, for many people, more money means more happiness. We can see that in this sophisticated graph I came up with:

Happiness Graph, money/happiness relation

But that’s not true!

Since we’re tackling money here, think about what you do with the “excess” money you have or to be technical, discretionary income. How do you spend it? Or, better yet, if I gave you $10 and told you to spend it as you wish, how would you spend it? On yourself, most likely. And that’s where one foundation of happiness lies. Do not spend on yourself.
Now, to avoid “you want me to walk in rags and be hungry!?” comments (if I get any that is), I don’t mean you should go on a pilgrimage and and let people take your worldly possessions. Banks will do that for you, at least the latter part.

No, I mean to say that the more you spend on others, the happier you will be. Remember that $10 I gave you. Don’t go on a shopping spree in the dollar store, but wait. Give a thought.
How about you get something for that girl in the store next to your place, or a flower for your mom, or a tip for the homeless guy who greets you every morning as you hurry off to work? There is actual research by Michael Norton that directly shows the correlation between giving and how happy we are:

Happiness Graph, giving/happiness relation

While that graph is not really precise ( no shit, right ), you get the point. If you give a part of you through a gift, the smile you get in return will make your day better. Or the week. You might just like it and turn it into a habit. A habit of giving small things to make people feel better, even a tiny bit.
You might find the tiny bits accumulate over time, maybe…maybe giving you back a good laugh, a hug or something entirely else. You never know, until you try.

Let’s try?

Cap ou pas cap?