Are you tired of hearing that happiness only comes from within? That no matter what is going on out there, you can be happy? From Buddha to the ancient Greeks, they all advocated the idea that your happiness only depends on the way you think. But that is only half true. In the book, the happiness hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt examines the fundamental question of how happiness can be achieved. He says that happiness comes from having the right relationship between one’s personality and surroundings. In this summary, I’ll share with you three key lessons that can change your beliefs about happiness.
Key Lesson #1: Happiness comes from between
Have you ever heard the saying, "Happiness comes from within," from Buddha or other gurus? It sounds good, but it's bullshit if you take it literally. They want you to believe that your happiness only depends on your thoughts and not on what is going on out there. But how can this be even remotely true? We humans are social creatures. Are you telling me that being around people who love and support you or being in a deep and meaningful relationship won't have a huge effect on your happiness? Of course, it will. We humans are wired to share experiences with others, and if we have someone in our lives to share those experiences, our happiness exponentially increases. However, what those gurus say about happiness not being something you can achieve directly, I think that is true. For happiness, you have to get the conditions right and then wait. Of course, some of these conditions are within you, such as avoiding negative thinking and overanalyzing. But many other conditions are outside of you, such as the environment you're in, including social and work settings. Just like plants need sunlight, water, and good soil to grow, humans need love, work, and a connection to something larger to thrive. It's essential to work on your relationships with others, your work, and your connection to something bigger than yourself. If you can get these relationships right, you'll find a sense of purpose and meaning in your life, which can lead to happiness. So, for happiness, work on not just yourself but also your relationship with others.
Key Lesson #2: What doesn’t kill you can make you happier
Have you ever heard the saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"? Well, it turns out that this can also make you happier. Sometimes when people go through really tough experiences, they may become sad and unhappy. But research shows that in many cases, people who face adversity can actually benefit from it. For example, I have a couple of friends who lost their jobs or loved ones. Although they felt really bad at first, now they are more confident than ever because they know they survived something they thought they couldn't. During tough times, people often come together and form closer relationships, which as we talked about in the last lesson, can contribute a lot to our happiness. Another benefit of going through tough times is that it usually makes us more realistic about life. When we face difficulties, we get a chance to reflect on who we are and make changes. For instance, when I lost my father a few years ago, it was really hard for me and I was sad for a while. But it made me think about how I was living my life. I realized that I didn't have a clear direction and was just hoping for things to make me happy. I decided to take control of my life and made many changes. Now, I am much happier than before, even though I went through a tough time.
Key Lesson #3: Humans have a basic need for the divine
No matter how happy you might be, I bet there are times when you think something is missing from your life. I am gonna suggest that thing might be a connection to something beyond yourself, or what I like to call divine. It turns out that even if you're not a religious person, you can still benefit from some of the religious experiences. If you look at all the religions, you will see all of them have one thing in common. People in all religions come together to take part in a shared experience, it can be singing, praying, or chanting. One of the things I love to do is to go to churches or temples and take part in these shared experiences. It always amazes me how deeply those experiences touch my heart. They create a feeling of awe in me. These experiences make me to feel connected to something greater than myself. Even though I might not know anybody there or not share their religion, I always feel connected to people around me when I am praying and chanting with them. And a lot of research confirms that experiencing such things that inspire awe, can help us become happier and better people. These experiences connect us to something greater than ourselves and can bring us closer to others, especially in group activities like prayer or chanting. We have a basic human need for the divine, and without it, we may feel like we're lacking something important.
So, in summary, by studying happiness, we can design a more fulfilling life. Just make sure don’t fall into the trap of believing that happiness comes from only your thoughts. It turns out that your surroundings, especially your relationship with others play a huge role in happiness. Also, going through hard times can potentially make you happier. And by taking part in the collective experiences of praying or chanting we can satisfy our natural need for the divine and make ourselves happier.