Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happiness is a Journey

According to Tal Ben-Shahar, happiness expert, there are four ways in which we attempt to find happiness. They relate to the present and future benefits of our behaviors. We all have characteristics of all four types. Consider how you fit into these types:

The Rat-Racer, or, present detriment with future benefit. You are always in search of the next success and trying to reach your next goal. You’ll have fun once you get there. But of course, when you arrive, there’s yet another goal. You’re totally future oriented and the present only matters as it serve your future goal. While workaholics are the typical examples of this mentality, there are many others. For example, If I just stick to this diet and lose 5 more pounds, I’ll be happy.

The Hedonist, or, present benefit with future detriment. The opposite of the rat-racer, all that’s important is the present. You attempt to satisfy all your desires no matter what the consequences. You’re always ready for the next best thing. No surprise, you’re not terribly happy or interested in anything. Challenge and meaning are essential for happiness.

The Nihilist, or, present detriment and future detriment. To you, life has no meaning. There is no happiness, just continued unhappiness. You’re never more disappointed because you no longer have any expectations. You believe you have no control over anything.

The Happy, or, present benefit and future benefit. You’re happy now and hope to be happy in the future because of your present actions. Sometimes, you do things you don’t completely enjoy, because it’s going to be good for the future. More often you manage to have a pretty good time. You have frequent flow experiences.

Ben-Shahar recommends considering the times in your life you fit each of these types. You might also ask yourself some questions to get on track. In which type would you like to spend most of your time? How can you enjoy the journey more? What’s your road to happiness?

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable.” Tal Ben-Shahar

No comments: