U-shaped happiness

Avoiding The U-Shaped Happiness Curve

U-shaped happinessI recently read this article this article, shaking my head the entire time.  The findings were scientific and I don’t doubt the results of the careful analysis. But…

I reject the premise that it’s normal for your happiness to dip in the prime of your life

The article says that the dip in happiness happens because it’s difficult to raise a family, manage debt, and thrive in the career at the same time.  Then, when we are near the end of our lives we somehow find happiness again.

How to avoid falling victim to the U-shaped happiness curve

  1. Be happy with what you have
    The article says this is why we are able to become happy again at an old age.  This was the main message in my Meaning of Life post.  Why do we not figure this out until the end of our lives?   Chances are, your life is infinitely better than the lives of billions of people on this planet.  Think of them when you think life isn’t fair.
  2. Eliminate jealousy
    About one-third of the article talks about how we let jealousy spiral out of control and allow it to control our lives.  It is what pushes us to have the bigger house, faster car, and more stuff.  Why don’t we ask ourselves what is important and what we really need?  Instead, give as much as possible.  Aspire to minimize things and maximize experiences.  Volunteer, help others or the environment, and never expect anything in return.  Karma will smile upon you and happiness will be your reward.
  3. Question the status quo
    As I wrote about in my Question the Status Quo post, we need not live like everyone else.  It’s extremely healthy to step back every so often and do a reality check.  If things aren’t right, fix them!  By simply questioning something, chances are you are already on the right path even if it takes a while to get to the destination.  Remember what we’re told as kids: “If he/she jumped off a bridge, would jump too?”  Just because everyone else is doing something or behaving in a particular way, it doesn’t mean you need to.  The road less traveled is often more pleasant and healthy.  Better yet, create your own unique road, follow it, and don’t compare yourself to others.
  4. Fill your life with love, purpose, and health
    Yes, this trifecta is my recipe for a balanced life.  Happiness is achieving a balance among all three of these pillars.  Can you really have too much love though?  Can you be too healthy?  Probably not.  I could see having too much purpose being unhealthy in some circumstances.  Having too much responsibility, for example, can cause more stress than it’s worth in some cases.  But in general, if you work on finding balance among these love, purpose, and health, you should have no trouble turning that smile above into a stable, flat line!
  5. Smile more
    Yes, just laugh and smile more.   It’ll release the good chemicals in your body and you’ll feel happier.  Smile for no reason.  Even better: make other people smile.  If the people around you are happy, it’s much easier for you to be happy!  Help them help you!

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts and ideas below!

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