Week 1: Module 1 and 2: Course intro and happiness measurement; the 1st sin, habit, and exercise
Week 1: Module 1: Course intro and happiness measurement & Module 2: The 1st sin, habit, and exercise
“Welcome to the course…Genesis of the course…Happiness is a balloon!…What you can expect and what will it take!…Measuring happiness…Introducing the Seven Deadly Happiness Sins…Overview of 1st deadly happiness sin: Devaluing happiness…Devaluing happiness in job-choice…Three negative misconceptions about happiness…Why we devalue happiness: Part II…Prioritize but don’t pursue Happiness…The 1st exercise: Defining and incorporating happiness…Summary…”
Overview of 1st deadly happiness sin: Devaluing happiness
Devaluing happiness in job-choice
Three negative misconceptions about happiness
Why we devalue happiness: Part II
Prioritize but don't pursue Happiness
The 1st exercise: Defining and incorporating happiness
Welcome to the course
I am a visiting professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, and I welcome you to a life of happiness and fulfillment.
Even though we all want to be happy, we didn’t have a good idea what it takes to be happy.
By taking this course, you’ll get to know the answers to questions such as, why aren’t the smart and successful as happy as they could or should be? What are the 7 deadly happiness sins? And what are the corresponding habits that enhance happiness levels? And finally, what are some of the major obstacles that make it difficult for us to overcome these sins and implement these habits? By taking this class, not only will you get to learn about the true and the fake determinants of happiness, you’ll also be able to come up with an action plan, a scientifically validated action plan for leading a life of happiness and fulfillment.
So I hope that you’ll join me and thousands of others from around the world, to take this class on the life of happiness and fulfillment
Genesis of the course
Thank you so much for your interest and a life of happiness and fulfillment, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you from the sunny campus of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Let me begin by introducing myself a little more formally than I did in the course intro video.
How come a business school professor is teaching a course on happiness, of all things? Isn’t business the opposite of happiness? There is a story behind this.
For the first seven years after I joined UT Austin, I was teaching a very standard business school course, Consumer Behavior.
I really loved teaching that course and I was very happy doing it.
I took a bunch of MBAs from McCombs to India as part of a course called Global Connections.
The objective of this course was to expose the American MBA students to a totally different country and culture.
By the time I brought the MBA students to India it had been about 15 years since I had graduated from my own MBA School, and about 20 years since I had graduated from my engineering school.
To me, it seemed that the ultimate purpose of education is to give students the tools and the skill sets required to lead a happy and fulfilling life, and of course to also help other people do the same.
If at the end of the day we aren’t giving our students the knowledge to lead happy, fulfilling, meaningful lives, what’s the purpose of that education? I felt that we weren’t doing such a good job of achieving this goal.
I asked them whether they’d be interested in taking a class that focused on one of life’s most important questions, what are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life? The students said that they’d be absolutely delighted to take such a class.
The main objective of the course was to be very simple, to give the students the opportunity to discuss this life’s important question.
So I was personally very interested in teaching a class on happiness, but what I wasn’t sure of is whether the business school would approve such a course.
Like I mentioned sometime back, people don’t normally associate MBA’s and business schools with the pursuit of happiness.
What’s really great about a business school too, is that we believe in a free market economy.
I went up to my dean and I asked him if I could be allowed to offer a course on happiness.
From the beginning, not only have I had a sufficient number of students interested in the class.
In the very first year I taught the course, I was offered the university-wide professor of the month award.
In the five years that I’ve taught this class, I have had over 1,000 students from all around the world.
In the course of teaching this happiness class, I have learned more about happiness than I could have ever hoped.
It is the things that I have learned from teaching the class that I would now like to share with you in this course.
By taking this course, I’m confident that you will devil up something that I call happy smarts.
Happy smarts is the ability to consistently make happiness enhancing decisions.
Happy smarts is, by the way, very different from academic smarts, which has to do with IQ and test-taking ability and critical thinking ability, those kinds of things.
If you want to learn more about happy smarts, and how it’s different from academic or career smarts I’d like to invite you to visit my website.
Thank you so much for taking the course and I look forward to getting to know you better in the coming six weeks.
Happiness is a balloon!
As a great man once said, happiness is like a balloon, the lighter you are, and the more uplifted you feel.
When you hold a balloon, not just you, but everyone around you knows how big the balloon is.
What this suggests is that it’s not that difficult to measure happiness.
This is a very important thing to note, since when the topic of happiness as a field of research comes up, I’m invariably asked by many people about the measurement of happiness.
Can happiness be reliably and objectively measured, they ask me.
This is a legitimate concern since; after all, unlike the amount of money you have in your bank, happiness is the subjective feeling.
It’s fair to ask whether happiness can be objectively measured.
The researcher who’s probably done the most amount of work on measuring happiness is Professor Ed Diner from the University of Virginia, who’s known all around the world as Dr Happiness for his pioneering work.
Asking people how happy they are is, of course, the easiest way to measure happiness, but the concern with this measure is whether it’s a reliable, objective one.
That is, he’s referring to the self reported measure of happiness.
Brain scans, for example, people’s left prefrontal activity correlates with their happiness reports.
We can look at what their family and friends say about their happiness.
You say well maybe their marriage was unhappy no, this is five, ten years before they ever got married when we took the happiness report and later we see that the people who are low on happiness way back then when they were 18 and 20 are fair amount more likely to get divorced or have any unhappy marriage.
Asking people how happy they are is the easiest way to measure happiness.
It turns out that this is a reliable measure of happiness as well.
If the bigger the balloon, the happier you are then the question is, what affects the size of the balloon? One thing that surely affects it is whether it has holes in it.
The air will slowly seep out of the balloon, as you might have discovered when a balloon got deflated overnight.
Of course, if the balloon has a really big hole in it, it’s going to deflate even faster.
In this course, I’m going to be talking about seven deadly happiness sins.
The more the number of sins you have or you commit, the faster your happiness is going to deflate.
The more frequently you commit a sin, the bigger the hole in the balloon is going to get and therefore, the faster your happiness will deflate.
These habits are like the pumps, the more the number of pumps you have which are pumping air to the balloon, the happier you will be.
The bigger the pump, which means the stronger your habit, the bigger the balloon.
There are two forces acting on the balloon at all times, the sins and the habits.
The way to increase your happiness is to get rid of the sins, the holes in the balloon, and acquire the habits, the pumps.
The more the number of sins you get rid of, which is the equivalent of patching the holes on the balloon, the happier you’ll be.
If you do a sufficiently good job of patching up all the holes and acquiring a sufficiently large number of pumps, your happiness balloon can be really quite big, and you can fly high.
Now, I’m aware that a balloon doesn’t need seven pumps to inflate it, and that it actually looks kind of funny, maybe more like an octopus than a balloon.
Our main objective in this course is to try and make your happiness balloon big.
How? By getting rid of the sins and acquiring these happiness habits.
In the next video, I will tell you more about what it is going to take to get you to get rid of the seven deadly happiness sins, and what it’s going to take to acquire the seven habits of the highly happy.
What you can expect and what will it take!
Talking of happiness, one thing that I’m sure you must be wondering about is what you can expect from this course.
Clearly, given that this course is on happiness, I’m sure that you are keen to learn the science of happiness.
I’m also sure that you would like to see an actual improvement in your happiness levels.
Although happiness is a very important goal for us, and although we all have our own theories about happiness, most of us never discuss the topic in a scientific fashion.
The second objective is to enhance your happiness levels.
The third objective is to give you a road map for continuing to lead a life of happiness and fulfillment.
Most of my students tell me that they felt happier while taking the course, but they weren’t sure they’d be able to continue to practice the various things that they learned in the course in the future.
I will get back to this objective in the final week of the course.
For now, getting back to the second objective, our objective of seeing an improvement in your happiness levels.
You might be wondering, what does it mean to be a happier person? I’ll get to the definition of happiness in a lecture that’s coming up soon.
Now that we have a working definition of happiness, let me get to how we can measure whether your happiness levels are improving.
As we saw in the last video, self reports of happiness are quite reliable and valid.
So we’re going use self reports to measure happiness.
I’m going to ask you for yourself reported happiness levels at three points in this course.
Then I’m going to measure your happiness mid-course, at the end of the third week.
Finally, I’m going to measure it at the end of six weeks when the course is over.
Hopefully you will see an improvement in your happiness levels, unless of course it turns out that you’re already maxed out in happiness.
If you’ve already maxed out in happiness, then you can take the course for pure fun.
Hopefully you can inject some of your happiness into some of the others taking this course.
In order for you to see an improvement in your happiness levels, I’m going to need two things from you.
In the classes that I’ve got, over 70% of students who attended all the sessions, and completed all the exercises, showed some improvement in happiness levels.
Among those who missed two or more sessions or exercises, only 25% showed an improvement in happiness levels.
I’m going to ask you to do something that I ask every one of my students enrolled in my happiness class at both Indian School of Business, and at the McCombs School of Business to do.
>> Bursting over my head. I’m just kidding about a big, fat balloon bursting over your head of course.
The point I’m trying to make and this is a point that any happiness researcher will make, is that without a sufficient level of effort, or diligence and open mindedness, you’re not going to see any beneficial effects.
My objective is to make this course the most fun, the most insightful, and the most meaningful course you have ever taken.
So now that I’ve told you what you can expect from the course, and what it will take to see an improvement in your happiness levels, let’s get to measure your current levels of happiness.
As I mentioned in the last video, if you are diligent and open minded you will most likely see an improvement in your happiness levels.
I’m going to use something called the subjective well-being scale, developed by the one and only Dr. Happiness.
Professor Ed Diner and his colleagues to measure your happiness levels.
The seven habits of the highly happy, and why they enhance happiness levels.
Introducing the Seven Deadly Happiness Sins
In the last video, we measured your happiness levels.
In this video, I want to first talk about something I call The Seven Deadly Happiness Sins.
I call them deadly sins, not only because they are very prevalent, but also because they make a serious dent in our happiness levels.
Or to use the balloon analogy, they pose a serious hole in our happiness balloons.
The first sin is devaluing happiness, that is, even though we all want to be happy, and we want to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives, we often sacrifice happiness for the sake of other things.
Now, you may find it surprising that people sacrifice happiness for other things, given how important happiness is to us.
As you will see, most of us sacrifice happiness not just once or twice, but multiple times a day, and then we wonder why we are unhappy.
Many of us believe that the secret to happiness is being superior to others.
As it turns out, chasing superiority is one of the biggest killers of happiness.
The third sin is being needy, or its opposite, being avoidant.
Being needy is not good for happiness, but neither is its opposite.
We’ll see why neither neediness nor avoidance is good for happiness in week three.
Many of us feel that the reason we’re not happy is because, my wife won’t tell me how her day went or my husband doesn’t know how to be nice to guests, or because my kids don’t obey my orders or because the weather isn’t as warm as I want it to be or my favorite team didn’t win the soccer game or baseball game, and so on.
This in turn, lowers our happiness levels as we’ll see in week four.
The fifth and the sixth sins will be covered in week five.
As we will see in week five, both types of distrust lower happiness levels.
The seventh and the final sin is unwillingness or inability to tap into something that one might call the source within.
To understand what I mean by this, it will be useful to know that all of us have a source of happiness right within us.
As we will see in week six, being mindful makes us happy.
Many of us are not familiar with the source of happiness.
Why? Because, as Dan Harris, the correspondent for ABC News and anchor for Nightline, notes in his book 10% Happier, it sounds too woo and mystical.
There’s a good reason why, it may very well be the single most powerful determinant of happiness.
This course is going to be structured around these sins.
I will also be talking about two other things, habits and exercises.
Specifically, after I talk about each thing, I will also talk about a corresponding habit.
I’ll talk about one or more exercises that will help reinforce the habit and get rid of the sin.
I’ll discuss a habit to overcome the sin.
How will you know if you’re progressing well towards getting rid of a sin and reinforcing a habit? By practicing the exercises.
Overview of 1st deadly happiness sin: Devaluing happiness
Of all these greetings from all around the world, can you tell me which one is my favorite? So you know why aloha is my favorite greeting? Because it stands for A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment.
As I mentioned in the last video, the reason we aren’t as happy and fulfilled as we could or should be is because of the seven deadly happiness sins that we commit.
In this video, I’m going to introduce to you the first of these seven deadly sins, which is devaluing happiness.
Devaluing happiness means not giving happiness much priority in our lives.
It means sacrificing happiness for the sake of other things.
Now, you might find it strange that people would be willing to sacrifice happiness for the sake of other things.
Findings from several surveys show that happiness is one of our most important goals.
One survey found that happiness was rated the highest among 12 possible goals, including goals like success, knowledge and material wealth.
We found that happiness was the second most important goal after fulfilling relationships.
The difference between happiness and fulfilling relationships was actually statistically non-significant.
Meaning that for all practical purposes, happiness emerged as the joint top goal along with fulfilling relationships
Given how important happiness is you would think that people would not sacrifice it for other goals, but as we are soon going to see, they routinely do.
I got my first hint that people sacrificed happiness for other groups to something that I call the genie question, which many of you answered in the recourse survey that we sent out to you.
What wishes would you make? If happiness is a very important goal, people should be asking the genie for happiness.
Very few people, only about 6% ask for happiness.
The items on the genie wish list hinted the kinds of things for which people routinely sacrificed happiness.
This suggests that people routinely sacrifice happiness for the sake of money and status.
We are now at Bajaj Hall, one of the many dining areas of the Indian School of Business and I’ve brought you here to show you how we often sacrifice happiness for the sake of value for money.
What would you do? Would you pick option A, which is load your plate with chickpeas and avoid the grilled chicken, because that’s what you enjoy more.
My cousin sacrificed enjoyment of his salad for the sake of value for money.
In other words, my cousin sacrificed happiness for the sake of value for money.
I say that he sacrificed happiness for value for money, because it turned out that he didn’t even finish eating the chicken, even though he had paid for it.
Then we asked one set of participants, what should a person who wishes to maximize happiness do? And ask them to choose one of the following two options.
Option A, add some grilled chicken to the salad, so that you get your money’s worth.
In other words, almost everybody agrees that that option B is the best way to maximize happiness.
So what’s the point of eating something that you don’t enjoy much? And yet, when we asked another set of participants to indicate which option they would pick of the two, if they were at a salad bar, we found that many of them attempted to prioritize value for money over happiness.
98% say that the happiness maximizing option is option B. And yet, only 78% picked this option.
This suggests that about 20% or 1 in 5 of us sacrificed happiness for value for money.
There are many other such situations in life in which people sacrifice happiness for the sake of other goods.
To tell you about another situation in which people sacrifice their happiness, let me take you to the swimming pool at ISB.
We are now at the swimming pool at the beautiful campus of the Indian School of Business and I brought you here to tell you how sometimes, we sacrifice happiness for the sake of being right.
In our studies, 86% picked option B as the happiness maximizing option.
Around 14% or 1 in 7 seem willing to sacrifice happiness for the sake of being right.
In this video, I describe two scenarios in which people sacrifice happiness.
So in the next video, I’m going to discuss how we sacrifice happiness in one of the most common and most important scenarios in our lives.
Devaluing happiness in job-choice
We are now inside one of the many rooms at the Indian School of Business where job interviews happen.
You could ask me, do people sacrifice happiness for the sake of other goals, in more important situations, like job choice.
I’m calling you because you did the lion’s share of the work in our job choice studies.
Could you please tell us what we found? Sure, so If you remember the reason why we did these job study settings was to see if people choose to sacrifice their happiness in even more bigger life choices, such as job choices.
What we did is, we came up with two job descriptions.
So we said that it was a job that you would enjoy more, easier hours, but the pay was also less.
So what we did is we asked students to indicate which job they would, would prefer.
We said imagine you’re close to graduating; you had these two job offers, which one would you prefer.
What we found was 57% of the students said that they would choose the intrinsically pleasing job over the extrinsically pleasing job.
Do what makes you happy, and so they might be self presenting and saying that they would choose the intrinsically rewarding job to kind of protect their reputation, either to other people, or even to themselves.
We said what you think the average student would choose between these two jobs.
Now, only 19.8, so close to 20% said they would choose an intrinsically satisfied job.
Great, so we used the projective technique huh? However, isn’t it true that there is some debate about the predictive technique? So didn’t we do another study that provided more direct evidence that people choose jobs that are more intrinsically than intrinsically satisfying especially when push comes to shove can you share that one with us? Sure, so yeah there is some debate about this Projective Technique so we run another study which is so much fun to talk about and we did it over a span of a year and a half.
What we did was we ran the study on MBA students, who were actually going to be going on the job market.
Before we contacted them we came up with a list of jobs in different industries, a pair of jobs for each industry.
So for accounting we came up with two jobs in the accounting industry one again that was more extrinsically satisfying and one that was more intrinsically satisfying.
We drew from actual job postings and created these jobs for actual companies.
Again, one would be listed as high on extrinsic rewards like money but sound more stressful, but in other jobs hire on intrinsic rewards, for example with a meaningful company and had better hours, and things like that.
So we had a list of many of these jobs for different industries.
Then we went to MBA students in their first year and we asked them to look at these jobs based on whatever industry they told us they were in, we gave them jobs for that industry, and we said, rank these jobs in order of appeal to you.
Again, some of them were extrinsic, some of them were intrinsic, and so we wanted to see the relative ranking of these jobs in their first year.
What we found is, when we compared these stage two to stage one job interviews.
What we found is that, over time, MBA students were expressing more preference for the extrinsically-rewarding jobs relative to the intrinsically rewarding jobs.
Yeah, so these findings show that the MBA students shift their preference towards astringent rewards when they are on the job market, but tell me, isn’t it possible to argue, that they aren’t necessarily sacrificing their happiness.
What if these students actually derived greater happiness from higher paying jobs?
It’s a great question but I don’t think that’s explaining our results, because if that was the case, then we would have seen that even in stage one that these MBA students would have exhibited a preference for the extrinsically satisfying jobs, and we don’t see that.
What we think might be going on is, people are using their ideals, what they think they should choose, happiness wise in stage one but as time goes on, kind of the pressure of the job interview season, seeing all of your other peers being on these job interviews.
Thinking about competition that maybe motivates people to say, you know what, I need to choose the more competitive job out of the two.
These results definitely seem to rule out the possibility that the students derive greater happiness from higher paying jobs but what about the possibility that they want to take these higher paying jobs only to get a certain level of financial security? For example, pay off their loans and once they achieve that level of financial security, they will choose the intrinsically motivating jobs.
So I hear this all the time that people will say for now, I’m going to take the good paying job because I want more financial security but in the long term, I’m going to switch to that better job, right.
As we’ve seen so far, people sacrifice happiness in a variety of scenarios, when making food choices, when interacting with the people in their lives, and even, when choosing something as important as a job in their lives.
Three negative misconceptions about happiness
Hi there and welcome back! This week, we are discussing the first deadly happiness sin which is de-valuing happiness.
In the last two videos, we saw how we de-value happiness by succumbing to the fundamental happiness paradox.
In this video, I want to turn to why we devalue happiness.
Why do we devalue happiness if happiness is such an important goal? It turns out that there are three main reasons.
The first reason is that we hold many negative beliefs about happiness.
Because of this, we don’t find happiness to be as attractive as we otherwise might.
In a very similar way, if you hold negative beliefs about happiness, you won’t find it as attractive and therefore you’re likely to sacrifice it for the sake of other goals.
One common negative belief about happiness is that it will lead to laziness.
If I’m happy, many people think to themselves, why should I work hard? In fact study after study reveals that happiness doesn’t make us lazy.
Here’s just a small sample of findings on the effect that happiness has on productivity and success.
Why does feeling happy make us more productive? One reason may be that we are more creative when we are happy.
Barbara Fredrickson, a professor from the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill, calls this the broadening effect of happiness.
Several studies have shown that we come up with more and better ideas, and are therefore, more likely to be creative, when we are feeling positive or happy.
Another common misconception about happiness is that happiness makes people selfish.
If I’m already happy, many of us think to ourselves, why should I really care about others? As it turns out we are much less self-centered and much more altruistic when we’re happier.
Ask yourself, when are you likely to be nice to your family and less likely to kick your dog? When you have just be shouted at by your boss or when you have just received a promotion? Of course, you’re more likely to be nice to everyone when you’re happy.
We sometimes forget this when we think about happiness.
Again, study after study confirms that this negative belief about happiness too is just plain wrong.
Happy people are more likely to judge others favorably and are more likely and willing to share their good fortune with others more equitably.
People feeling happy contribute more money to charity and they’re also more likely to donate blood.
When I talk to Dr. Happiness, Professor Ed Diner himself recently, I asked him about the various ways in which people feeling happy has beneficial effects.
Who once commented that to be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements of happiness, although if stupidity is lacking, then all is lost.
>> Flaubert was a funny man because he said three requirements of happiness.
If you look at people’s happiness at time one, say when they’re 20.
You’ll see that that initial happiness will predict that.
In the social areas I mentioned earlier, happy people get married more.
When we bring people in the lab and put them in a good mood, they’re more sociable, they’re more talkative.
We see a lot of different types of evidence, both experimental and longitudinal; to suggest that happy people are healthier, happy people are more sociable.
As you just heard from Professor Diner, happiness doesn’t make you lazy or selfish.
Let me turn now to a third negative belief about happiness that many of us harbor, that happiness is fleeting.
That is, we devalue happiness because we believe that it won’t last for long anyways, so why value it? But is happiness in fact, fleeting? The answer is it depends.
If you define happiness as sensory pleasure, happiness won’t last long.
Going back to why we devalue happiness, one reason is because we harbor negative beliefs about happiness.
In particular, many of us harbor three negative beliefs that happiness makes us selfish, happiness makes us lazy, and that happiness is fleeting.
In the next video I’m going to discuss two other reasons why we devalue happiness.
Why we devalue happiness: Part II
Talking of gifts, we should all consider happiness to be a gift because it has so many positive effects on us.
We showed that people are more objective, that is more capable of handling the truth, when they are happy versus when they are not.
As I started discussing in the last video, many of us devalue happiness.
One reason we devalue happiness is because of the negative beliefs we have about it.
We think that happiness will make us lazy, that it will make us selfish, or that happiness is fleeting.
Happiness actually makes us more successful, more altruistic, and it need not be fleeting.
I’ll have more to say about how happiness need not be fleeting in a video that’s coming up soon, but for now, let me turn to discussing two other reasons why we devalue happiness.
The second reason we devalue happiness is because we fail to define it in concrete terms.
According to this effect, we like something more when we understand it more easily.
The three men were flabbergasted, their jaws dropped and they asked Mullah in unison, why then were you searching for the ring out here? And Mullah, without batting an eyelid, says, oh, because we can more easily see here under the street lamp.
The story shows us, how we have a tendency to focus on things that we can see more clearly.
Which is similar to the idea that we give greater value and priority to things that are more clearly defined?
Here’s a more scientific exploration of the same idea.
Imagine that you’re looking for some cough syrup and you walk into a supermarket and you come across two brands, Brand A and Brand B. As you can see, Brand A is easier to read. Brand B on the other hand is more difficult to read. Which brand are you more likely to buy? Studies show that you’re more likely to choose brand A. Why? Because it is easier to read and process.
You are likely to devalue happiness if you aren’t clear about what it means to you.
In other words, a big reason we devalue happiness is because we don’t have a readily available concrete definition of happiness.
We’ll fix this problem, by the way, in the next video where I will ask you to come up with a concrete definition of happiness.
Let me turn my attention now to the third and final way by which we devalue happiness.
Judging by what’s on people’s genie wish list, it’s not just money that distracts us from happiness.
Other goals like status and fame do it too, and many times we don’t even realize that we are sacrificing happiness for the sake of these other goals.
I’ve been thinking about happiness and working on the topic for several years and yet, once in awhile even I get tripped up by the fundamental happiness paradox.
What was I to do? Select the good looking pair that was worth only $70, or select a worse looking pair that would give me more value for money? As I was breaking my head thinking about this, a voice in my head suddenly popped up.
It said Dr. Happy smart you’ve been working on the topic of happiness for a number of years and you of all people shouldn’t commit the fundamental happiness paradox.
So select that path that you think looks good since that’s the happiness maximizing choice, and that’s what I did.
We discussed how we devalue happiness for three main reasons.
First reason is that we harbor negative beliefs about happiness.
Second reason is that we fail to define happiness in concrete terms.
It follows that to overcome the first deadly happiness sin, we’ll need to figure out a strategy that takes care of all these three reasons why we devalue happiness.
Prioritize but don’t pursue Happiness
In the last few videos, I presented some findings on how we devalue happiness and why we do it.
Specifically, I showed you that we devalue happiness by succumbing to the fundamental happiness paradox.
I also discussed three reasons why we devalue happiness.
Namely, harboring negative beliefs about happiness, for example that happiness is fleeting, failing to define happiness in concrete terms, and medium maximization.
In other words, I want to talk to you about the first habit of the highly happy, the habit that can help us overcome the first deadly happiness sin.
The first habit of the highly happy is, prioritize but don’t pursue happiness.
What exactly does it mean to prioritize, but not pursue happiness? What it means is to consciously make the choice of giving happiness the higher priority over other goals in your life.
If you remind yourself of this before you make your decisions, it turns out that you won’t be as susceptible to the fundamental happiness paradox.
Now three of my colleagues, Kelly Goldsmith from Northwestern University, David Gal from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Lauren Cheatham, a PhD student at Stanford University, and I have conducted several studies in which we tested what happens when people remind themselves to make happiness enhancing decisions on a regular basis.
The email gently reminded them to make happiness enhancing decisions.
As you can see from the graph, what we found was that at the end of the week, those who received the daily email reminding them to make happiness enhancing decisions, were far happier than those who did not receive any emails.
These results suggest that reminding yourself to make happiness enhancing decisions can significantly boost your happiness levels.
Does this mean that the more we remind ourselves to make happiness enhancing decisions the happier we’ll be? Not really.
Although reminding yourself to make happiness enhancing decisions is a good thing, you shouldn’t actively monitor or chase happiness, because when you do it’s actually likely to lower your happiness levels.
Why? Because when you pursue happiness too intently, you’re likely to monitor how you are feeling with how happy you want to feel.
It’s best to remind yourself to make happiness enhancing decisions, but then not monitor happiness levels constantly.
That’s the idea of prioritizing but not pursuing happiness.
How exactly do you acquire this habit? One thing that’s obviously important is to know what happiness means to you.
Because unless you know what happiness means to you, you can’t really give it a higher priority.
So in other words, you first need to define happiness.
Now, as you probably know, happiness can mean different things to different people.
Here are five definitions of happiness that I want you to consider.
First, happiness can be defined as sensory pleasure.
Finally, happiness can be equated to something that I mentioned in a previous video, the feeling of abundance.
I wouldn’t equate happiness to either sensory pleasure or to hubristic pride.
This is because as you can imagine it’s difficult to sustain happiness if you equate it to sensory pleasure or to hubristic pride.
So I will equate happiness to one of the three other types feelings.
In the next video I’m going to ask you to come up with your own definition of happiness.
We discussed the first habit of the highly happy, which is prioritize, but don’t pursue happiness.
This means reminding yourself on a regular basis to make happiness enhancing decisions, but then not obsess about how happy you are.
We also discussed the importance of defining happiness.
Because to prioritize happiness, it’s important to know what happiness means to you.
Finally, we discuss the various ways in which happiness can be defined, and how it’s better to define happiness as authentic pride, or love, or abundance.
The 1st exercise: Defining and incorporating happiness
In this video, I’m going to give you instructions for the first happiness exercise, which is defining and incorporating happiness.
Defining happiness, this component involves figuring out what happiness means to you.
Incorporating happiness, this component involves identifying the set of things that make you happy in a way that you have chosen to define it.
In the last video, I shared with you some definitions of happiness.
Happiness as sensory pleasure, happiness as hubristic pride, happiness as authentic pride, happiness as love/connection, and happiness as abundance, the feeling that you have when you feel that you have everything that you need.
These are, of course, not the only ways to define happiness.
I picked these definitions of happiness from the work of Professor Barbara Fredrickson from the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill.
Joy, to me, is very closely aligned with the feeling that I call abundance because I feel that joy arises from the belief that you have the things that you need in order to be happy.
Finally, happiness can be equated to amusement or to laughter.
What also seems to be true is that laughter can enhance happiness levels.
Robert Provine, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation provides a good overview of the research on the influence that laughter has on our happiness levels.
In all, I’ve exposed you to eight different definitions of happiness.
Consider these definitions and ask yourself, which definition am I most drawn to? Which definition seems most appealing to me? Then, in the space below, type out your own definition of happiness.
Great, so you have your own definition of happiness.
Not too many people have a concrete idea of what happiness means to them, but now you do.
To help you with this, let me share with you my own definition of happiness.
Hopefully, this example has given you some ideas for identifying the three or four things that enable you to experience the feeling with which you equate happiness.
Not only do you now have your own definition of happiness, you also have a list of things that make you experience that feeling.
So let me extend a very warm welcome to you to a Life of Happiness and Fulfillment.
In this video, I want to give you the instructions for the first happiness exercise in this course, Defining and Incorporating Happiness.
Hopefully, you’ve already come up with your own definition of happiness and have also copied it.
The song is obviously about the things that make Maria happy, and as you already know, this exercise two is all about the things that make you happy.
Stage one, you figure out what happiness means to you and come up with your own definition of happiness.
This will take you to stage one of step two in this exercise, defining happiness.
If you have your copied your definition of happiness from before, you should paste it in the space provided for it.
My definition of happiness is the same as Professor Raj’s, which is being joyful, but not at the cost to rationality or compassion.
When you click on the Done, I have my definition of happiness button at the bottom of the screen; you will be taken to stage two in the exercise incorporating happiness.
In other words, identify three to four things that evoke the feeling that you call happiness.
If you defined happiness as joy, identify the activities or the things that make you feel joyful.
As you saw on the last screen, happiness to me is being joyful, but not at the cost to rationality or compassion.
Once you complete the step and click the done button, you will see your responses, that is, your definition of happiness, and the list of things that makes you happy on your screen.
You will be given the opportunity to receive a daily reminder to prioritize but not pursue happiness.
If you want to take advantage of this opportunity you can click on, YES, I’d like to receive a daily reminder to make happiness enhancing decisions.
See this Download PDF link here? You’ll simply have to click it to download a document that contains your definition of happiness and the things that need you to feel happy.
Click on that link that says Assignment one, Defining and Incorporating Happiness.
One for your definition of happiness, and another for the things that make you happy.
Just cut and paste your definition of happiness and the things that make you happy into these two boxes.
As you just saw, I just posted my first happiness exercise on Courser.
Seeing other students’ definitions of happiness and reading about what makes others happy always makes me happy, and I’m sure that it will have the same effect on you, too.
With that, let me wish you goodbye for now and see you next week when I will be giving you the instructions for the second happiness exercise.
As I mentioned in one of the early videos, this course will not have the desired effect on your happiness unless you’re diligent and you’ve completed all the videos and the exercises for this course and you’re also open-minded.
In an earlier video, I introduced to you the metaphor of the balloon where the size of the balloon represents how happy you are and the holes in the balloon represent the happiness sins, which deflate the balloon.
The first deadly happiness sin, which we discussed this week, is devaluing happiness.
How do we devalue happiness? Well, by succumbing to the Fundamental Happiness Paradox.
As we saw, we routinely sacrifice happiness for the sake of other goals.
Now why do we devalue happiness given that it’s so important to us? For three reasons.
The way to overcome the first deadly happiness sin is by acquiring and reinforcing the first habit, which is to prioritize but not pursue happiness.
As we saw from these studies that Kelly, David, Lauren, and I have run, while it’s important to remind ourselves to make happiness enhancing decisions, it is equally important not to chase happiness.
When we chase happiness, by comparing how we feel with how we’d ideally like to feel, we end up being less happy.
The question is how do you acquire and reinforce the first habit of prioritizing but not pursuing happiness? It is through the first exercise, which is defining and incorporating happiness.
As I mentioned, it is better not to equate happiness to sensory pleasure or pride.
For the same reason it is better to equate happiness to something more like abundance.
Since findings show, for example, this paper by Danbury and Ricard and others, that is this type of happiness that has the best potential to be sustained for long durations.
The second component of the exercise has to do with identifying the things, the people or objects or activities that help you experience happiness in the way that you’ve defined it.
Hopefully, as a result of this exercise, you have a good idea of what happiness means to you and what kinds of things leads you to feel happy in the way that you’ve defined it.
Now let me talk a little bit about how defining and incorporating happiness is likely to plug the happiness hole created by the first deadly happiness sin which is devaluing happiness.
We address this problem by coming up with a personally relevant and concrete definition of happiness, which is the first component of the exercise, of course, defining happiness.
As we saw earlier, we’re distracted by things that lead to happiness, which makes us forget all about happiness.
So reminding us on a regular basis to prioritize happiness, we are reminding ourselves to refocus on what we ultimately want in life which is not the mediums that lead to happiness, but happiness itself.
If you pay close attention to kids, you notice how impressively undistracted from happiness they are.
Because of the negative beliefs we harbor about happiness.
Hopefully by defining happiness as authentic pride or as love/connection or as abundance, you will realize that this is not true.
See you bright and early next week when I will be discussing the second deadly happiness sin, which is chasing superiority.