The Most Inspiring Way to Be Happier by Michael Norton, TIME
Eric Barker stashed this in Diabolical Plans For World Domination
One word: Elevation.
Here’s what we learned about elevation — the best way to be happier:
- Watch inspiring movies: Seeing stories of others doing good makes you happier and makes you want to be good.
- Write about the good moments: Thinking’s nice but writing is better.
- Spend time with good people: Hang out with the good kids, like mom told you.
- Do good to be good: Be the one who elevates others and karma can be a very real thing.
“Elevation” may be a new idea to social science but the concept has been around a long time. Over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following:
When any… act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary when we see or read of any atrocious deed, we are disgusted with its deformity and conceive an abhorrence of vice. Now every emotion of this kind is an exercise of our virtuous dispositions; and dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise.
As we all know, there are different kind of unhappiness (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) But now we’ve learned there are different kinds of happiness as well.
Jonathan Haidt recounts the words of someone talking about how even our tears can differ. Some come when we are sad, but much like the difference between happiness and elevation, tears can also mean joy.
It’s the kind of tear that flows in response to expressions of courage, or compassion, or kindness by others… That was a tear of celebration, a tear of receptiveness to what is good in the world, a tear that says it’s okay, relax, let down your guard, there are good people in the world, there is good in people, love is real, it’s in our nature. That kind of tear is also like being pricked, only now the love pours in.
Simple pleasures are nice but seeing others do good and doing good ourselves can produce a more powerful type of happiness that inspires, motivates, and makes the world a better place.
Happiness doesn’t need to be selfish. And neither do you.