The One Word Key To Happiness
Eric Barker stashed this in Diabolical Plans For World Domination
We all want to be happy. That’s obvious. But how much would people pay for a moment of happiness?
Researchers did a survey — and the answer was about $80.
Other than pure love and dodging discomfort, people were willing to pay the most for happiness.
- $ 44.30 for calm tranquility,
- $ 62.80 for excitement,
- $ 79.06 for happiness,
- $ 83.27 to avoid fear,
- $ 92.80 to avoid sadness,
- $ 99.81 to avoid embarrassment,
- $ 106.26 to avoid regret,
- $ 113.55 for love.
(Suddenly heroin is looking pretty cheap, and Starbucks is an absolute steal.)
At $80 a shot, well, I’m about to save you a lot of money.
What’s it take to become happy very quickly without dramatically changing your life (or spending $80)? The key to happiness really comes down to one word:
We all have regrets and worries. We all have bad things we could think about. But they don’t bother us when we pay them no mind.
The Buddha once said:
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
And research is agreeing with him. People always think more money or a better this or that — a thing or event — is going to make them happier.
But when we look at the data, very happy people don’t experience more happy events than less happy people.
So it’s not really what happens. It’s what you pay attention to and the perspective you take on things. “Look on the bright side” is a cliche, but it’s also scientifically valid.
Paul Dolan teaches at the London School of Economics and was a visiting scholar at Princeton where he worked with Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.
He explains the importance of attention in his book, Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think:
Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together… The scarcity of attentional resources means that you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions about what to pay attention to and in what ways. If you are not as happy as you could be, then you must be misallocating your attention… So changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.
Are you actually paying attention?
“Savoring” is a powerful method for boosting happiness. It’s also ridiculously simple:
Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second and appreciate that moment. Pay attention to it.
Savoring is all about attention. Focus on the bad, you’ll feel bad. Focus on the good and… guess what happens?
The key component to effective savoring is focused attention. By taking the time and spending the effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being.
“Stopping to smell the roses”? It’s true. People who take time to appreciate beauty around them really are happier.
Those who said they regularly took notice of something beautiful were 12 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives.
This isn’t speculation. Studies show slowing down and appreciating good things boosts happiness and reduces depression.
In one set of studies, depressed participants were invited to take a few minutes once a day to relish something that they usually hurry through (e.g., eating a meal, taking a shower, finishing the workday, or walking to the subway). When it was over, they were instructed to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently as well as how that felt compared with the times when they rushed through it. In another study, healthy students and community members were instructed to savor two pleasurable experiences per day, by reflecting on each for two or three minutes and trying to make the pleasure last as long and as intensely as possible. In all these studies those participants prompted to practice savoring regularly showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.
Do one thing at a time. Pay attention. Enjoy it. You’ll feel less busy and you’ll be happier.
(For more on how to savor those precious good moments in life, click here.)