Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Happiness Project

"Ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be" - John Stuart Mill

I had a fair bit of assumptions on the subject of happiness and the above statement used to echo my thoughts on this subject. I also strongly carried the superstitious belief that you jinx your happiness by invoking cosmic displeasure if you keep anticipating or talking about it. Reading "The happiness project" by Gretchen Rubin inspired me to start my very own happiness project and also made me check my assumptions.

There are a couple of ideas in this book that strongly resonated with me and I felt like I could apply the same in my life. 

On the subject of money and happiness, Gretchen asserts that money could buy happiness depending on the type of person you are. There are 2 types of shoppers in the world :
Satisficers (yes, satisfice is a word, I checked) are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.
Maximizers want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photograph that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.
Most people are a mix of both approaches.In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they’re often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice. I was thrilled to identify my shopping style to be that of a satisficer and I hope that significantly contributes to my bucket of happiness.
Another idea that resonated deeply with me was to boost my happiness through writing. Gretchen claims that the idea to write a novel in a month filled her with lust for thrill of exertion like running marathons or climbing mountains. The book "No Plot? No Problem! " by Chris Barty claims you can start writing without any preparation , you don't edit yourself and by writing 1667 words a day, you write a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. I like the idea- even knowing that this will take a lot of time and energy , that I could be happy doing it. Making a self published book with the end result - even if the novel isn't great - a hardcover complete with even a dust jacket and my name as the author, will cost under 30$, but will give me immense happiness.
I particularly liked the tips to make marriage work better and especially the ones aimed at reducing nagging your hubby. I personally hate being a nag - it causes me a great deal of guilt when I indulge in this kind of behavior. But the need to get the job done makes me an unwilling nag. Gretchen 's tip says: "Think about how money might be able to buy some happiness. Eliminating conflict in a relationship is a high happiness priority, so this is a place to spend money if it can help." My hubby and I had been squabbling for months on whose turn it was do the dishes. I just decided to buy a dishwasher and our home is more peaceful now.
Some of the quotes that inspire me in my quest for happiness:
“The things that go wrong often make the best memories.” 
“Enthusiasm is more important than innate ability, it turns out,because the single more important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”
"It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously -- and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition."
"Did I have a heart to be contented? Well, no, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please...It's easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied.” 

1 comment:

Random Musings said...

Well your shopping style might have been that of a 'satisficer' but personally knowing you and that too for a long time I feel in every aspect you are a Maximiser.
Weighing all options and choosing between them and then also stressing if it was the correct one just defines you :)