Where Is the Grass Greener? The Economics of Happiness

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 27, 2010 · 46 comments

in Money & Career

Men have a certain innate restlessness. We’re always looking for a new adventure, wanting to feel like we’re progressing in life, and wondering if the grass might be greener somewhere else.

Our ever-searching nature can be a good thing if it’s channeled into pursuits that really lead to greater happiness and satisfaction. But restlessness can also get us terribly off track if we expend our energy journeying down avenues that are really dead ends.

Our Happiness Range

Psychologists have an equation they use to “compute” happiness:

H=S+C+V

H=Happiness

S=Set point

Perhaps 50% of our happiness and satisfaction in life is genetic in origin. Some people are just born naturally jollier than others, and there’s nothing we can do about it. This is our happiness “set point.” But it’s more accurate to call it a “set range.” We can move our happiness ticker to the upper range of our happiness potential or the lower range. What causes the ticker to move? Read on.

C=Conditions

There are some things we can’t change (or do much to change) about ourselves-ethnicity, gender, health, attractiveness, etc. But these conditions don’t affect your happiness as much as you might think because of something called the adaption principle. Our minds are sensitive to changes in our lives, and these changes cause our happiness ticker to move up or down. But we quickly get used to those changes and the ticker settles right back into our normal range. This is why, as unbelievable as it sounds, both lottery winners and those who are paralyzed in an accident find their happiness levels right back to their pre-windfall/tragedy levels in less than a year.

V=Voluntary Conditions

Unlike other conditions, voluntary conditions are those things you choose-relationships, job, hobbies, location, etc. These things can have a greater impact on your happiness because they are less susceptible to the adaption principle.

So the key to finding the truly greener pastures is to concentrate on going after the right things-the things that really will make you happier-instead of expending your energy in pursuit of a happiness mirage.

This is where the economics of happiness comes in. Numerous studies have revealed what factors in life are correlated with greater happiness. Now granted, these things correlate to greater happiness; they don’t necessarily cause happiness. But I always say it’s at least worth checking out where the happy people congregate. Below we highlight eight areas of a man’s life that we often associate with increasing or decreasing our happiness and analyze if the grass really is greener in those pastures.

Money

“As the level of wealth has doubled or tripled in the last fifty years in many industrialized nations, the levels of happiness and satisfaction with life that people report have not changed, and depression has actually become more common.” -The Happiness Hypothesis

Perhaps no factor’s influence on happiness has been so examined and so much a part of the popular culture as money and wealth. There are those who say that money doesn’t buy happiness, and those that counter that the first group is simply not shopping at the right stores.

The answer to whether money can buy happiness is a crucial one, as it influences many of the decisions we are faced with in life. Should we pursue the major that leads to a more lucrative career or stick with studying what we’re passionate about? Should we take the promotion that offers more money but will allow us less time with our family?

Numerous studies have shown that money does buy happiness….to a point. To the extent that money allows you to provide for your basic needs plus a little wiggle room, it does make you happier, but once you move into the middle-class, its effect wanes. The most recent study of this issue was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and found that beyond a household income of $75,000, money “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness, or stress.” Day to day happiness did not increase after the 75k mark, although the feeling of being satisfied overall with one’s life did continue to rise with income. A massive global Gallup poll found similar results; wealth was correlated with life satisfaction but not the positive feelings a person experiences from day to day.

That life satisfaction but not day-to-day happiness increases with wealth can be chalked up to the fact that how much we make relative to other people is more important than the absolute amount of our income. We derive satisfaction from feeling like we’re higher up in society’s pecking order. But no matter what income level people are at-rich or poor-they always think making 20% would increase their happiness. Which is why even though the standard of living has been rising for many decades, people aren’t getting any happier.

So there’s a bit of truth to the idea that money buys happiness. But there’s also truth to the maxim that people who don’t think so aren’t “shopping” at the right places. Which brings us to:

Material Possessions

The amount of money you make is only part of the story; how you spend that money also makes a big difference.

Conspicuous consumption-buying the bigger house, the fancy car, and the designer duds- doesn’t correlate with greater happiness because of something called the “hedonic treadmill;” you very quickly adapt to your new things and need to buy more stuff to feel the rush again. A new car gives you a boost every time you drive it for the first few weeks; a year later it’s simply your everyday mode of transportation. And your happiness with material goods is very dependent on comparing your stuff with other people’s; you’re ecstatic about your new flat-screen television until your neighbor shows you his 3-D set-up.

But people who do more “prosocial spending,” using their money to buy things for others and to donate to charity instead of getting things for themselves do experience a lasting increase in their happiness. But our inner-caveman fights this conclusion; humans naturally want to display their status to other members of the tribe in conspicuous ways.

Another way to get more happiness bang for your buck is to use your money to buy experiences instead of things. Spending your money on vacations, meals, movies, and concerts increases your happiness more than spending it on material goods. Experiences strengthen one of the greatest contributors to real happiness-our social ties. Activities give us a chance to spend time with other people, create mutual memories we can look back on together later, and provide us with interesting stories to tell people who weren’t even there. And experiences are less subject to the effect of the hedonic treadmill; our memories actually get better with time. We forget about the negative things that happened on our trips and simply remember how great it was.

Commute

When people are asked about activities that make them happy, sex tops the list and commuting gets the very bottom spot. Nevertheless, people consistently believe that having a cheaper and bigger house or a higher paying job will compensate for having a longer commute. They are wrong. Two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not make up for the misery created by a long commute.

What accounts for this “commuter’s paradox?”Obviously, commuting is simply unpleasant; it lessens your time with your family, costs money, and stresses you out. And not only is it unpleasant for the commuter, it diminishes the happiness of his partner as well. But more importantly, while many voluntary conditions don’t affect our happiness in the long term because we acclimate to them, people never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it’s not. Or as Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it, “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.”

A man would have to make a full 40% more money in a job to compensate for a longer commute. And yet people will often still choose the bigger house over the smaller one and the chance to walk to work. Why? They make a “weighting mistake,” an error explained by author Jonah Leher and the psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis:

“Consider two housing options: a three bedroom apartment that is located in the middle of a city, with a ten minute commute time, or a five bedroom McMansion on the urban outskirts, with a forty-five minute commute. “People will think about this trade-off for a long time,” Dijksterhuis says. “And most them will eventually choose the large house. After all, a third bathroom or extra bedroom is very important for when grandma and grandpa come over for Christmas, whereas driving two hours each day is really not that bad.” What’s interesting, Dijksterhuis says, is that the more time people spend deliberating, the more important that extra space becomes. They’ll imagine all sorts of scenarios (a big birthday party, Thanksgiving dinner, another child) that will turn the suburban house into an absolute necessity. The pain of a lengthy commute, meanwhile, will seem less and less significant, at least when compared to the allure of an extra bathroom. But, as Dijksterhuis points out, that reasoning process is exactly backwards: “The additional bathroom is a completely superfluous asset for at least 362 or 363 days each year, whereas a long commute does become a burden after a while.”

On another note, when deciding where to live, be sure to factor in noise, another condition we never fully acclimate to. You may think living in your dream house will compensate for it being positioned right by an incredibly busy intersection, but there’s a good chance it won’t.

Job

Perhaps no factor causes a man as much restlessness as his job. A man unhappy with his occupation will spend a good deal of time wondering if he wouldn’t be happier in a different line of work altogether. Depending on what line of work he’s fantasizing about, he might be right.

Happiness does cluster in certain jobs, particularly those that involve serving other people; in a survey on occupational happiness and satisfaction, jobs like clergyman, firefighter, and special education teacher topped the list.

But other studies have shown that any job can give your happiness if it utilizes your signature strengths and does four things:

1. stretches a person without defeating him
2. provides clear goals
3. provides unambiguous feedback
4. provides a sense of control

And you don’t have to wait for your job to give you these things or necessarily switch to a new job; you can look for ways to incorporate these things into your existing position.

Location

Next to a job, a man’s locale creates the most wanderlust. Who hasn’t wondered on a bad day if they wouldn’t be much happier living in Austin or Portland instead of Toledo? But will packing up your bags and moving making you happier?

When Professor Richard Florida surveyed 27,000 people on the effect of place on their happiness, he found that location formed “the third leg in the triangle of our well-being, alongside our personal relationships and our work.” That location would be one of the top three factors influencing our happiness should not be surprising-after all, place in many ways affects many other areas of our lives: what jobs are available, what people we’ll form or keep relationships with, how stressed or relaxed we are, our health, what hobbies we can pursue and so on.

Age

You would be happier if you could get back to your college days, back to your 20s, right? Wrong. Happiness does peak at age 18 (man, I miss high school) but then it goes downhill until….age 50. It turns out that being middle-aged isn’t the living funeral you thought it was. In fact most people are happier at age 85 than age 18. And it’s not because children have flown the coop and you have more time to play golf; the happiness reported by the elderly and middle-aged was not premised on children, gender, marriage status, or job. For reasons researchers do not yet understand, your brain just starts feeling better as you get grayer. So you can stop searching the internet for a time machine and look forward to swapping your chucks for orthopedic shoes.

Relationships

“An ideology of extreme personal freedom can be dangerous because it encourages people to leave homes, jobs, cities, and marriage in search of personal and professional fulfillment, thereby breaking the relationships that were probably their best hope for such fulfillment.” The Happiness Hypothesis

Humans are social creatures; it’s bred into us by evolution. Without this need for social ties we wouldn’t have banded together to survive the hostile dangers of prehistoric life. Thus, to be exiled from the tribe was a punishment worse than death.

So it’s not surprising that the most consistent factor in happiness is the strength and extent of our social network. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, spending time with others greatly boosts our well-being. Our relationships give us a sense of belonging, identity, security, support, and fun. Study after study has found that having strong, positive relationships with family, spouse, children, and friends provides the biggest boon to our happiness.

There may be a few lone wolves that can live in the Alaskan wilderness for decades and be as happy as pie, but for most of us, we never get to used to isolation and loneliness.

Sex

So what about sex? Many a man has felt that if he were only having more sex with more women he’d be a lot happier. True? Well yes to the first and no to the second. Having more sex does indeed make you happier. How much happier? Even a modest jump-going from having sex less than once a month to at least once a week is equivalent to adding $50,000 to your income. After you’re getting some once a week, the effect of frequency of sex on your happiness diminishes.

But the number of sexual partners a year that maximizes one’s happiness? 100? 25? One. Apparently monogamy is pretty sexy.

Conclusion

So to summarize, things that correlate to happiness include:

  • at least $75,000 income
  • spending money on other people and charity
  • spending money on experiences over material goods
  • living close to your job
  • being older
  • having a satisfying job
  • strong social ties
  • regular, monogamous sex

So you may be wasting your time:

  • trying to be extremely wealthy
  • wishing your were back in your 20s
  • buying a bunch of junk
  • enduring a lengthy commute to your job so you can have a bigger house
  • being Boo Radley
  • involuntary celibacy

In the end though, happiness really comes down to attitude and taking pleasure in the small things in life. I’ve known men who worked crappy jobs in deadbeat towns and still led happy lives. They learned to enjoy even the smallest of life’s pleasures. A good book, delicious food, and the beauty and refreshment of the outdoors. Instead of focusing on what they didn’t have, these men focused on all the things they had going for them. They fostered an attitude of gratitude. And actually, there’s a study that proves the truth of this age-old bit of wisdom, too.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Etienne September 27, 2010 at 4:49 am

Wow, thank you for an excellent article! This is the one site where I feel myself slow down and R E A D.
Thank you!

2 nomak September 27, 2010 at 5:25 am

Superb post that made my day!
Thank you and please keep up the good work!

3 chainlou September 27, 2010 at 5:39 am

just only a shoe polish, sori but i didn’t read it..
grrrrrrrr……

4 Trev September 27, 2010 at 5:46 am

Great article – thanks!

I notice it doesn’t really focus on having kids and what impact they’ll have on happiness. For instance, the commuting point certainly makes sense for a childless couple, but once the babies start popping out (do babies pop?), suddenly that larger house with a bigger garden way outside the city centre may start making more sense. I guess it partly comes down to whether you’re focussing on individual happiness, or aggregate family happiness. Does one adult’s longer commute offset the increased happiness for his three children having a really fun house to play in in a safe area near a good school?

Or maybe the secret of happiness is just to not have kids. Hmm…

5 Etienne September 27, 2010 at 6:41 am

Trev, I was having lunch while reading your response. I nearly choked from laughter reading your last line.
:-D

6 bill September 27, 2010 at 7:19 am

I agree with the lack of notice on the impact of kids to the equation. Plus, people tend mistake income for financial security or wealth. If I earn more than $75k, that’s fine for earnings. But what my debt level? If I’m saddled with high student loan debt (my own situation) or high medical debt, the “income” level is not accurately indicative of my disposable income. Moreover, if one makes $75k, but is failing to put aside enough for retirement, emergencies, and kids’ college expenses, then being “happy” with $75k is delusional. If you make enough money to cover your own potential/anticipated lifetime expenses and those of your minor children, that’s the level of “happy” income.

7 David Krueger MD September 27, 2010 at 7:49 am

Excellent article that captures money and human psychology.
Thanks.
Dave

8 Linards September 27, 2010 at 8:55 am

Exellent article! Very useful insight. This can actually change the way I perceive my life.

9 Mike September 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

Another great article from my now-favorite website. This is one of those articles that makes me think it would be nice to somehow personalize a reader’s archives for future reference. For example, if you create an account on a house plans website, you can go back whether a week or a year later to plans that you’ve ‘saved’, without having to do another search from the beginning. Being able to personalize and create my own ‘book’ of articles would REALLY be a useful tool.

10 Daniel Cespedes September 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Excellent read for the morning! Thanks for posting.
The only unfortunate side of it is, I’m 19 and just heading IN to college… ha. I sure hope I won’t have to worry about happiness on a regular basis for the next few decades.

11 Dave September 27, 2010 at 10:48 am

I really like what you guys have been publishing. You really have a great site that is, as an earlier commenter said, worth slowing down and reading. Hoping you keep up what you’re doing.

12 Evan September 27, 2010 at 11:57 am

@bill

I’d like to think that your children are an additional source of happiness rather than another variable in the equation for your personal happiness. Kind of ties in with the “spending money on others” and “personal relationships”.
Does the cut to your $75,000 wage outweigh the joy brought your children’s first words, graduation, or marriage?

13 Luke September 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Happiness Tip for the Day: For as much of a commute as is necessary I HIGHLY recommend listening to books on tape. It is a much better use of time than the radio and much more enjoyable, listen to “Call of the Wild,” ‘Ender’s Game,” or even “The Diary of Anne Frank”- and picking these up at the local library is free!

14 Tom Gunn September 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Ok, I accept that having that huge house won’t make you happier. Makes sense.

But what about kids? Don’t they have needs that an apartment in the city just can’t meet? Like a yard to play in? A secure environment? Their own room for when they become teens and need some privacy?

My wife and I have been planning a dreamhouse for years. I’m seriously re-thinking the idea all together based on what I’ve read here, but my wife made some good points above about the advantages of a good home.

If anyone has any thoughts on that, that would be great.

Anyway, another home-run Bret. Good work.

15 Brett McKay September 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

The effect of having kids on happiness was left out because it’s such a mixed bag that’s it’s hard to draw conclusions.

Several studies have found that the happiness of couples decreases when they have kids. But many of those studies do not control for whether the child was planned and if the parents were excited about having the child. The studies also measure the happiness of the couple in their relationship, not the happiness of the individual partners. So each partner may be happier themselves, but less happy with their relationship with the spouse. And something like 15% of couples-those that practice good communication in their relationship-don’t see their happiness decrease. And the more fathers pitch in with the housework and the childbearing, the less likely it is for the couple’s happiness to go down. Finally, after 8 years marital happiness is pretty much the same for couples that have kids and do not have kids. As an interesting fact-couples that have a girl are more likely to divorce than couples that have a boy….

@Tom-
Throwing kids into the commute question is interesting. It could be one of those things where the parents sacrifice so the kids are happier. The counter to that of course would be that if both parents are less happy, that’s not good for the kids either….

16 Leo D September 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Another gem for AoM. Thanks, Brett.

I’d like to make a note that one can’t trust a person’s opinion on what would make that person happy, even your own opinion on what would make you happy. Without experiencing something, a person simply cannot know. Certainly there are some experiences that won’t make a person happy (your arm being crushed by a boulder), but that moment is temporary. Living with one arm as opposed to two doesn’t change the happiness you will feel. The problem arises when we put too much worth on one permanent situation over another.

Aside from chance bringing someone something that they were happily expecting, most of our happiness is synthesized. It’s almost like bullshitting oneself, but the difference is that synthesized happiness is based on true facts in reality. Convincing oneself that false facts are true is a one-way bus to Crazytown.

Adam Smith noted in 1759 in his book “the Theory of Moral Sentiments” that if your ambition to be in a “better place” begins to compromise your virtues, you’re overvaluing that “better place.”

I’ll end this with a quote (please remember the difference between bullshitting oneself and synthesizing happiness):
“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me.” – Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642)

17 Hunter September 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I have to say, as a father of two, that the longer the commute, the LESS happiness you bring for your children and spouse. In all honestly, the article did, sideways, mention this in the arena of the fact that longer commutes lessen your happiness and your partner’s. I feel longer commutes lessen your children’s happiness as well since children rely on having their missing parent at home too. If you work 8 hours a day and spend an hour round trip, then you lost 9 hours with them, even more the longer the commute. As a father that works 9.5 hours a day (commute included) I have to work at home just as hard to make sure I spend all the time I can with my kids. At the end of the day I’m exhausted. I’ve cut back my volunteer efforts and other obligations just so I can make sure I focus on my job and my family first.

All that being said, I can’t say I am unhappy with this. In fact I am very happy, but I believe that is because I have attained the biggest rule of happiness; I look forward to going to work in the morning, and at the end of the day, I look forward to coming home. I would say that if that is your cake, then everything else is frosting.

18 Tim September 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm

If I had that one dude’s car and house and dog, and if I had the other guy’s office digs (and secretary – yow!), I think I’d be really, really happy.

I didn’t read the article, but I’m going to assume that was the point…

19 Linards September 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm

@Tim
Actually, the main point was quite the opposite.

20 KnoxPhil September 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Re: The photo of the gentleman under the “Money” heading…

Kramer: Keep the big bills on the outside.
Jerry: That’s a Five!

21 Richard Williams September 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

A very helpful piece!

22 AMA3 September 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm

excellent!

23 lady brett September 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm

wow! happiness peaks at 18 for most folks (for the younger part of your life)? that is mind-boggling to me – things just keep getting better – not to mention that high school was just about the nadir of life so far for almost everyone i know. must be the weird kids i know.

anyhow, i was wondering if the studies with regard to monogamy’s positive effect on happiness were controlled for frequency of having sex? because, as mentioned above, more frequent sex (to a point) makes for more happiness – and in my experience monogamy lends itself to more frequent sex than being single (and not a chaste sort of single).

only idle curiosity, really, as my personal monogamous relationship makes me brilliantly happy!

24 Keith September 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I’d like to comment on the idea brought up by some commenters of the need for a large suburban house for the kids. I was a kid in a small town and a teen in the suburbs. The kid part was fine and fun, but being a teen in either place is a nightmare. There is nothing to do.

People seem to think that urban areas are all nasty and unsafe. That is true to some extent, but it is also true in these other places, just not as obvious. When I was a teen in the suburbs, I had to take a pretty long bus ride to get to anything worth doing. Drugs and sex were readily available locally. Small towns are even worse. In the town I was a kid in it seemed that all the teens were into sex and drugs and vandalism. There was nothing else to do.

My wife and kids and I live downtown in Toronto. It’s a bit colourful at times, but there is no shortage of parks, museums, movie theatres, coffee shops, concerts, etc. for my family and I to take part in.

In fact, when I briefly considered moving this summer to be closer to the whitewater canoeing I love, I was told in no uncertain terms by my kids that there was no way they were leaving all the activities of Toronto behind. I’m sure lots of folks have a different tke on things, but wanted to share the perspective of an urban-dwelling family.

Stupidly, my work is currently about 45 minutes outside of town, so I have a too ong (for me) commute again. It’s certainly got me thinking about my options.

25 Cory Imppola September 28, 2010 at 12:52 am

Excellent article; it does contain many truths we simply forget about in today’s world. In particular I reference the constant media bombardment that focusses on consumption and living in the moment without a thought to the true cost of what we are “buying”.

26 Jake September 28, 2010 at 1:07 am

As a Psychology major, I’ve gotta say, this article is great!!!

27 MD "Dorsal" Finn September 28, 2010 at 1:45 am

Excellent piece. I think Balance is important in all aspects of time. My definition of success is to have the freedom and the capacity to do as you please.

28 Jonathan Manor September 28, 2010 at 2:35 am

I stumbled, digg, facebook, tweeted, delicious, and outsourced this every way I could. This is one of the most phenomenal reads EVER! I enjoyed this post as much as I love the sound of candy drop out of pinata. 75,000 dollars! Wow! That seems a lot right now, but that is definitely obtainable. I use to be the guy who’d find ways to be intimate with every girl he met, and yeah I was really successful. However, I honestly do love having a girlfriend. I feel happier than I’ve ever been through those dating years.

Brett is this your only blog? I feel like I need more to read.

29 Jay September 28, 2010 at 8:31 am

Great article. I would really love to see the commute thing looked at in more depth. It plays such a huge role in our overall happiness; and is quickly becoming one of those conditions over which we have little control. In the current economy, with jobs disappearing left and right, many of us are forced to take any job we can get and simply deal with whatever commute is involved. The article also mentions job satisfacton as an important factor in happiness. While it did say that infusing some positive notes in the current job is certainly desirable; it is sometimes necessary to change jobs in order to increase happiness. It is simply not always possible to avoid a long commute. Unless of course we’re supposed ot pack up and move the family every time we have to change jobs. Ah, but then wee’d be impacting the “location” part of the happiness equation. What’s a fellow to do.
Brett, maybe we can have a contest (with an appropriate give away – hint, hint) on commutes. Whose is the longest? How about the most dangerous? Who has dealt with the negative effects of commuting in the most original and/or most effective way? Thanks for all you do. This website is fantastic!

30 Joseph September 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

Agreed: nice piece. I was wondering about the $75K figure, though. Bill raised some good points: I mentioned the figure to my wife, and she thought that was a low ball figure, what with all our bills (incl. mortgage). Maybe, maybe not. Some bills can be be controlled. However, she also thought that ideal income would depend on where you live, too, which I think is a good point. In the northeast U.S., living on that could be a challenge to happiness. Any comments?

31 brx September 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

I have always enjoyed my commutes. I like to drive and I live in an area where traffic isn’t to bad. I have also never enjoyed my jobs, so maybe commuting was a sort of procrastination for me.

32 Jeff September 28, 2010 at 7:57 pm

WRT: Kids and a house in the burbs

I’ve got three kids (8,6,3) and a long-ish commute (40 mins each way). I’ve got to say that the kids don’t use the big back yard (1/6 acre) nearly as much as I thought they would. Until about 3 they’re too young to be off on their own without supervision, even in the yard, and after they start school, they want a bigger space to play sports with a bunch of other kids or to ride bikes around. Mine would often rather be go to a friends house to play or play inside. Granted, the weather here is drizzly for most of the year, so even I don’t want to go out in the rain much in the winter.

Our quiet neighborhood street is too steep for them to ride bicycles on, the yard is a little too small for soccer or baseball, so they end up going to the park a few blocks away for all of that stuff.

It seems to me that the very young and tween kids would rather have dad home more every night to play with than a huge yard anyway. I don’t think having kids changes the commute vs house equation much at all. It adds weight to both sides, more space for kids vs less time with them. Kids themselves tend to be pretty happy whatever their situation. Teens seem to tend to be unhappy whatever their situation.

33 Allyssa September 29, 2010 at 2:44 am

Love it!

34 Derrick September 29, 2010 at 5:44 am

Brett thanks for another great post. AoM is one of my favorite blogs in my reader.

Just thought I would pipe in to share one of my favorite books on the subject of happiness: Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager. I have provided an Amazon link below: you can get one used for $3.

http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Serious-Problem-Nature-Repair/dp/0060987359/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285753264&sr=8-1

35 Ken September 29, 2010 at 6:48 am

Wow awesome article!!

36 phillip September 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Great post. After coming through a year and a half of extreme financial pressure and heartache, my greatest aspirations in life at this point are to have peace of mind and to have the basics provided for my family. We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m convinced that, for a man, there is nothing worse than to not be able to meet the basic needs of his family. Never want to be there again.

37 Matthew King October 1, 2010 at 2:28 am

Wow… this is a terrific looking, and well thought out article. Did you get paid for this one?

38 Derek Sullivan October 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Great article. Man, let me tell ya, I’m only 18, and this whole website is such a great resource for me already.

39 Mark October 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

Great article, Brett…I’m often in need of a perspective adjustment, and reading this sure cured me for a while.

40 Shan October 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I think one very important thing left out is our faith. Previous to feb 23.1999 I was on the fast track to yuppiedom. Big income, bigger house, beautiful wife, every boy toy imaginable. But no true happiness. Through my own doing I lost most of it except my wife. On Feb 25 1999 I accepted Christ and my world changed. 10+ years later I have less money and less house than then but through my relationship with God, He has taught me so much about were joy resides not necessarily happiness.
He has taught me one major lesson that has helped me in the happiness area and that is contentment. Just being content is awesome.
We live in a world of advertisements telling us what we must have. I am learning not to be persuaded by the messages and just to listen to my heart. “I don’t really NEED that!” there’s so much power in just saying no!
I look back and can’t imagine living without God directing my steps and the inner peace and joy it brings.

41 Ed October 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Great article, this reminds me of another article on happiness. Its a humorous and informative: http://www.cracked.com/article_17061_5-things-you-think-will-make-you-happy-but-wont.html

This things that would make you happier at work seem extremely similar to something called deliberate practice.

“it consists of the following four elements: 1) It’s designed specifically to improve performance, 2) It is repeated a lot, 3) Feedback on results is continuously available, 4) It’s highly demanding mentally”

42 Tayana Jacques October 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

This was the perfect rememdy to my bad morning. You know, those mornings you wonder what the hell makes you smile any more? Well, this does.

It also made me feel like a little whiney kid for feeling this way when I have like 80% of that happiness list.

So thanks, I’m already feeling better!

43 Bryan Schatz October 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I really enjoyed this post Brett. Th bit about commuting particularly resonated with me…SO glad I don’t have to do that anymore!

44 Chris October 21, 2010 at 12:38 am

Another excellent post from my new favourite website. One of the few websites which you stumble across and actually slow down and read properly. Excellent insight, and an article which resonates well with its readers. Keep up the good work.

45 Vito October 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Thanks so much for this one, the time couldn’t have been better for me!!!

Keep up the good work, the site has really helped keep my perspective on things in check.

Best,
Vito

46 Geoff March 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

I needed this today. Thanks for the great work guys!

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