You are genuinely happy if you don’t know why.~ Joseph Mayer
You are genuinely happy if you don’t know why.~ Joseph Mayer
The older you get the more you realize that kindness is synonymous with happiness.~ Lionel Barrymore
I’ve often mentioned journaling. A few years after I began journaling seriously, I started taking time to read my older journal entries. Initially, I was setting aside some dedicated time early each month to simply spend time with my old journal entries. I was just randomly hopping around looking up things, and reliving old adventures (at least, those I’d taken the time to write about.) I soon ended up with bookmarks at various number-of-years-ago.
Eventually I wanted to reign in the time I was spending reading. (The author of my journals is the most fascinating person I know of, so I can really get lost navel gazing into my journals.) I process-ified the entire thing (which I’ll skip explaining because it’s not important) and now, every day, I read my journal entries from 1-, 3-, 6-, and 9-years-ago. It only takes a few minutes and it is endlessly illuminating.
Oh the adventures I’ve had! The thrills… the spills… the ups and downs!
[…] most of the fun is in the experience and not in the reminiscing. We don’t actually spend most of our days enjoying memories. How many minutes yesterday did you spend thinking about that trip you took last year?~ Ben Hoffman from, https://putanumonit.com/2016/05/11/shopping-for-happiness/
This article by Hoffman is typical. You’ll probably love it or hate it. The part I’ve quoted is way down in the middle part and not a major point. But it leapt off the page for me. I’ve long known that journaling has at least corresponded with my improvements, in the sense that it has raised the depth of the downward dips—this is a very important achievement. Alone, it’s reason enough that I intend to never cease journaling. Hoffman’s mentioning reminiscing as being a valuable activity related to happiness, has made clear another reason to never cease.
Happiness. I’m inclined to think it is something that arises spontaneously; When I create space within—meaning when I don’t fill my thoughts and actions up with stress and chaos—then sometimes I discover that happiness fills that space. But I can also tell you that it doesn’t always fill that space.
Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire. On the Dec. 19 podcast “Conversations with Tyler,” hosted by economist Tyler Cowen, Kahneman explains that working toward one goal may undermine our ability to experience the other.~ Ephrat Livni from, https://qz.com/1503207/a-nobel-prize-winning-psychologist-defines-happiness-versus-satisfaction/
Perhaps I don’t understand the difference between the experience of happiness and satisfaction. I can only note that the idea of, “I am satisfied” or “I am not satisfied”, is a necessary part of feeling satisfaction. Have I ever been and felt satisfied? Yes, I’ve definitely experience that. But how is that different from happiness?
There is no way to happiness— Happiness is the way.~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Particularly radical was Franklin’s idea about who could pursue happiness in this way. In Europe at the time, mainly aristocratic men with means would have been able to pursue lifelong learning in a formal sense. Franklin rejected this. He believed that “this pursuit was not the province of the upper classes,” Burns told me, “but rather for everyone, from the wealthy to the masses.” Burns hastened to add that this idea was nowhere near expansive enough in Franklin’s time—Franklin himself had slaves in his household, and equal rights for women were still far off—but this philosophy set the unique American aspiration in motion.~ Arthur C. Brooks from, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/05/ben-franklin-happiness-self-improvement-advice/629767/
There’s certainly a lot one can say about Franklin ranging from great to terrible. He feels close enough in time that he should be at least partly relatable and understandable, like a quirky uncle who has some sketchy ideas but is generally a good egg. But he isn’t; He isn’t that close in time and the reality of his life is all over the map. It’s difficult, but important, to try to give proper credit for radical, positive ideas despite other blemishes, mistakes, or egregious errors. Brooks does a tidy job of focusing on Franklin’s advancement of the batshit–crazy notion that everyone could do the absolutely selfish thing of pursuing their own happiness, and that would actually make the communal society better. Alas, it’s humanity’s loss that such radical ideas didn’t surface sooner.
The way to fame goes through the palaces, the way to happiness goes through the markets, the way to virtue goes through the deserts.~ Chinese proverb
Pleasure, luxury—these things you call happiness, but I think that to wish nothing is the happiness of god, and when you wish to have only small things, then you make yourself closer to this divine and high happiness.~ Socrates
True happiness springs from moderation.~ Goethe
Wealth is not happiness nor is swimming pools and villas. Nor is great work alone reward, or fame. Foreign places visited themselves give nothing. It is only you who bring to the places your heart, or in your great work feeling, or in your large house place. If you do this there is happiness.~ Richard Feynman
The man of contentment seeks nothing that he doesn’t have and understands that whatever he has isn’t his to own~ Wu Hsin
Happiness isn’t something that is deserved or earned from something outside yourself. Happiness is created within yourself. And it’s created by the simple and constant choice to accept what is. To look at the pain in the face and not blink. To confront one’s fears and struggles and embrace them rather than fight them.~ Mark Manson from, https://markmanson.net/values/life-philosophy
Manson has written a number of articles that feel like the fist from the adage: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” (~ Mike Tyson)
As a manager, this state of flow is less common, if not non-existent. You aren’t diving deep on a task during an uninterrupted block of time, as required in flow – you’re the one helping others dive deep on a task. You’re also not receiving immediate feedback about your progress in the same way you would as an individual contributor, which is another critical element of flow. As a manager, you might not find out until months later if a decision you made or a conversation you had positively or adversely affected your team.~ Claire Lew from, https://knowyourteam.com/blog/2019/03/20/do-i-truly-want-to-become-a-manager/
I think there’s a continuous pull to increase the total amount of work-output that we accomplish. Year by year, we improve our skills, learn new areas of interest, and even change careers entirely. We’re optimizing. The hard question is: Optimizing for what? Why?
I know I’ve been lured by the trap of thinking that if I just had help, then I’d be able to optimize. If I had more help, I’d be able to make more money, make more time, make more happiness for my myself, or make more happiness for the world. It’s taken me a long time to realize that, managing work and doing work are two different things.
I understand some people are drawn to—derive inherent pleasure from—managing others well and leading productive teams. But to date, I am not one of those people. This has left me in the unstable position of being pulled in opposing directions by two ideas: I would like to do fulfilling work. But to do more fulfilling work than I am currently, I need help from others. The key for me is to work with others in a spirit of collaboration; To not slip into my default mode of optimization, (specification, control, and micro-management.)
We come out of the box tuned for self-preservation and conformity. Not self-expression, not self-actualization, not happiness. But that’s what we want. Our genes want rock-solid, redundant systems for survival, nothing more. We want to have fun and feel good about our lives. Not the same thing!~ David Cain from, http://www.raptitude.com/2012/02/defy-mother-nature/
I feel certain that I understand how to enjoy life. No mystery to me there.
The problem is balancing responsibilities. I’ve chosen this, I’ve taken on that, …sure, I swerve off the road—regularly—with things like stress-eating, rage, depression. But again, no mystery to me why that happens. I can tell from the center-line of the road when I’m heading for the ditch.
If I had a pithy solution to write here, I wouldn’t need to blog to sort out my thoughts, now would I?