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Cory Jarrell @cdjarrell
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1/ Book highlights from "The Happiness Hypothesis" by @JonHaidt…
Happiness come from within and without. Within: cannot be found by making the world conform to your desires. Without: Buddhism and Stoicism teach to break attachments to external things and cultivate attitude of acceptance
H=S+C+V. H(appiness) = S(etpoint) + C(onditions) + V(oluntary activities). This is the basic formula.
Everyone has a happiness setpoint—your brain’s default level of happiness—which was determined largely by your genes. Some people have a positive outlook no matter what, others have chemical imbalances that make sustained happiness hard
Conditions include facts about your life that you can’t change (race, age, disability, etc) as well as things that you can (wealth, marital status, where you live, etc). Biggest part is love, second biggest is having and pursuing the right goals
Voluntary activities are the things that you choose to do, such as meditation, exercise, learning a new skill, or taking a vacation. Martin Seligman proposes that V is largely a matter of arranging your day and your environment to increase both pleasures and gratifications
Pleasures are sensory and emotional delights that may be derived from food, sex, backrubs, etc -- they must be spaced out to maintain their potency. Gratifications are activities that engage you fully, draw on your strengths, and allow you to find a state of flow
(This is how new I am to threading, I stopped the numbering after 1. Will pick up in next tweet)
9/ Voluntary activities could also include volunteering: long-term studies found when a person increased volunteer work, all measures of happiness and well-being increased (on average) afterwards, for as long as the volunteer work was a part of the person’s life
10/ Seligman also suggests that the key to finding your own gratifications is to know your own strengths. One of the big accomplishments of positive psychology has been the development of a catalog of strengths
11/ On building character: ought to be a lifelong struggle to develop one's moral potential. As Paul said in his Letter to the Romans (5:3-4): “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
12/ On living virtuously: 6 broad virtues found in nearly all cultures. Wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. These expand to 24 character strengths in Seligman's research
13/ On reflecting inward: we are fairly accurate in our perceptions of others but it’s our self-perceptions that are distorted because we look at ourselves in a rose-colored mirror. AKA “naive realism”: Each of us thinks we see the world directly, as it really is
14/ It is easy to spot a cheater when our eyes are looking outward, but hard when looking inward. Japanese proverb: Though you see the seven defects of others, we do not see our own ten defects. Nigerian proverb: A he-goat doesn’t realize that he smells.
15/ On knowledge: both explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is all the facts you know and can consciously report, is taught directly in schools. Tacit knowledge is procedural and is acquired without direct help from others, and it is related to goals that a person values
16/ Wisdom, says Sternberg, is the tacit knowledge that lets a person balance two sets of things. First, to balance their own needs and the needs of others, to see things from all sides. Second, to balance three responses to situations: adapting, shaping, and selecting
17/ This second balance is similar to the “serenity prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
18/ Simple point about adapting and happiness: live close to where you work, as people adapt to many things but traffic isn't one of them (since it's so variable and chaotic). Less commute = less stress = happier.
19/ Simple point on selecting a career: When you have occupational self-direction, work is often satisfying. Make the work challenging but have freedom to approach it how you want. When doing good matches up with doing well, a career is healthy
20/ Simple point on selecting love: find a balance of passionate love (love you fall into) and companionate love (love that grows over time). Strong marriages have strong companionate love with added passion between people firmly committed to each other
21/ On striving for goals: goals fall in 4 categories. Work/achievement, relationships/intimacy, religion/spirituality, and generativity (legacy and contribution). Focus on the latter three categories for long-term happiness
22/ Happy people have "vertical coherence" among goals where the short-term goals advance the pursuit of long-term goals. It's the journey that counts, not the destination. “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing" (Shakespeare)
23/ On treating others well: golden rule (treat others how you wanted to be treated). "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; this, in a few words, is the entire Torah; all the rest is but an elaboration of this one, central point." (Rabbi Hillel)
24/ On reciprocity: the most important tool for getting along with people. Mimicry is a kind of social glue, a way of saying “We are one.” Humans are social creatures and reciprocity, like love, reconnects us with others.
25/ On controlling your reactions: Events in the world affect us only through our interpretations of them, so if we can control our interpretations, we can control our world. Echoed by Boethius, Buddha, Aurelius: Nothing is miserable unless you think it so
26/ On limiting your choices: Barry Schwartz calls it "paradox of choice" in that we value choice but too many choices undercuts our happiness. Don't try to be a "maximizer" and find best possible, as "satisficers" are happier with their decisions
END/ The book also dives into various topics such as evil, evolution, language, how the brain works, and many more. "The Happiness Hypothesis" is a fantastic book and I recommend reading it to understand a lot more
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