The Philosophy of Happiness

We’ve already reviewed a couple of months focused on happiness.

First, we looked at the science of happiness. Then we dove into the intersection of money and happiness.

Both of these journeys took us deep into the world of studies and statistics. But not all of happiness can be summed up in numbers.

While I tend to favor statistics and studies, sometimes it is worth venturing into more abstract territory. That is what we did in July when we explored happiness through the lens of philosophy. Continue reading “The Philosophy of Happiness”

How Work Makes Us Happier (Seriously!)

When we look at ways to be happier, we usually don’t look to work.

Instead, we tend to see work as a necessary source of unhappiness. We work because we need money.

One of the premises of the financial independence movement is that we’ll be happier once we don’t have to go to our jobs anymore.

If you’re discounting work as a source of happiness, however, you’re missing out on quite a bit.

Not only do we tend to be happier than we think at work, there is much more happiness to be mined in this arena. Continue reading “How Work Makes Us Happier (Seriously!)”

The Shortest Path to Happiness

Here at Optimize Your Life we are spending the month of April exploring the science behind happiness.

We’ve already explored how much of happiness is in our control and last week we learned how hedonic adaptation makes many of our happiness gains fleeting.

The conclusion of that article included a call to focus on the 40% of happiness that derives from our thoughts and actions rather than our stuff and situation.

But what if there was a way to focus on our thoughts and actions in a way that also fought back against hedonic adaptation? Continue reading “The Shortest Path to Happiness”

As Happy as an Old Person

As I’ve noted before, I’ve done a lot of reading on happiness. One consistent finding of studies across the spectrum is that older people are happier than the rest of us.

Despite the declining health that accompanies old age, study after study finds that happiness increases into our senior years.

The freedom of childhood is less happy. The health of young adulthood doesn’t compare. The financial stability of middle age doesn’t do it for us.

So what is it about seniors that makes them happy? And what can we learn from them?

Continue reading “As Happy as an Old Person”

Respond. Don’t React.

Usually when I think about articles to write, I start with the research.

My articles on happiness stem from research in positive psychology or from reading different philosophies of life.

When I write about money it is based in studies and statistics and calculation.

Today, I want to talk about something that I don’t have research on. Instead, this is something that I have used in my life for years and have found very helpful.

It’s a sort of mantra. A reminder to myself when things get stressful.

Respond. Don’t react. Continue reading “Respond. Don’t React.”

Death and Happiness

My grandfather passed away recently. It has been a tough few years for my family, but we have felt a lot of love and support from each other as well as from our community and network of friends.

My cousin gave an excellent eulogy at the funeral. One thing that he noted is that Papa has been insisting that every encounter with him could be the last for years. For at least the last decade, he has insisted that he is almost out of time. Continue reading “Death and Happiness”

Happiness Causes Success

Last week Cait Flanders wrote about how some people treated happiness as a general vibe that they exude and others pursued happiness as a destination. Thinking about this idea started me on a path that had me digging back through my notes on happiness research.

Our culture tends to treat happiness as a destination. Happiness is a goal for which you strive. And of course, the most surefire way to reach happiness is to be successful.

If we stop and think about this premise though, it falls apart. If success causes happiness, then we should be able to see the results. Continue reading “Happiness Causes Success”

The Things We Cannot Change

There is often a great power in quotes.

When someone can distill an idea or a philosophy into a short, memorable collection of words, it can become a kind of mantra for people. It can be a reminder of how they want to live their life and how to be their best selves.

One example of this is the Serenity Prayer. Continue reading “The Things We Cannot Change”

The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have

In looking into ways of dealing with disappointment we explored the Stoic practice of imagining the things that could go wrong in our lives. This is a great tool for helping us blunt the painful feeling of disappointment that accompanies loss.

However, this is not the only benefit to this practice.

Continue reading “The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have”

Should You Give Meditation a Try?

Hello, friends! If you are an American reader, then happy election day! Please make sure you go out and vote today. I know that this election season has been long, draining, and often demoralizing, but sitting out the election is giving up your chance to weigh in on who should make and enforce the laws. These choices matter! Especially at the state and local level. Google “my ballot” and enter your address for a run down of every office and referendum that you get to vote on. Do your research. Vote. It really does matter.

Now on to your regularly scheduled programming:

I am a person who generally makes decisions based upon logic and rational factors. As such, I avoided trying meditation for a long time. How could doing nothing for a stretch of time every day actually help me?

But then the studies started coming. Science turned its attention to this ancient practice and decidedly said, “Matt is an idiot.” Continue reading “Should You Give Meditation a Try?”