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”

Thinking About Death

When we learned about the science of happiness back in April, we ended the month discussing the meaning of life.

Now that we are discussing philosophy and happiness, we will get just as heavy. But at the other end of the spectrum.

We’re going to end our philosophy and happiness month by discussing the importance of death. Continue reading “Thinking About Death”

Avoiding Disappointment and Recovering From Loss

Last week our journey into happiness and philosophy took us into the question of why bad things happen to good people. We learned that these bad things are a chance for us to overcome adversity and become stronger.

Which is all well and good, but doesn’t necessarily help us deal with the sense of loss or disappointment that can often accompany the bad things that happen to us.

For advice on that front, we’ll return to the Stoic philosopher Seneca. Continue reading “Avoiding Disappointment and Recovering From Loss”

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

We are continuing our exploration of happiness and philosophy today with a topic that cannot be addressed with science and data.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

This is a question that is asked often and one that is sometimes used as a suggestion that life is not fair

Seneca, who was a Roman Stoic philosopher, playwright, and politician had a different interpretation. Continue reading “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”

Finding Serenity

We’re spending the month of July looking for keys to happiness in philosophy. Today, we’re going to explore one specific quote.

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 “Finding Serenity”

Feeling Less Negative

In our quest to explore a new topic for improving our lives every month this year, we’ve already touched on happiness twice.

First, we looked at the science of happiness. Building upon that foundation, we then looked at the intersection of money and happiness.

These dives into the world of happiness were based on analyses of statistics and studies. But not all of happiness can be summed up with numbers.

So this month we’re going to move into the more esoteric world of happiness and philosophy. Continue reading “Feeling Less Negative”

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”

How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions

Stoicism has gotten a bad rap.

These days, when people think “stoic,” they think “emotionless.” “Indifferent to pleasure and pain” is now literally a definition of the word “stoic.”

That’s not what the Stoics were going for.

For the Stoics, the goal is not to avoid all emotion. It is to minimize negative emotion. I can see where people get confused, though.

I am often accused (usually jokingly, but often enough to take the hint) of being emotionless.

I disagree with this assessment. I feel plenty of emotions. I just try not to dwell on negative emotions.

And I try not to act on them, either. Continue reading “How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions”

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”

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”