Monday, October 15, 2007

Happiness is...Relevance?

I went to a family event this weekend and found myself in a philosophical discussion about happiness. It started when someone asked me why I decided to go into helping overachievers and I said that at the bottom of it all, I wanted to help people be happier with their lives.

The conversation quickly turned to the question of “What makes people happy?” It's something very important for me to consider when I look to create broader products and services ("solutions" if you're in the business world) to help overachievers be happier. So here's what we came up with during the conversation, but I'd love to hear what you have to say...

I started off by breaking down happiness into 2 categories: Short-Term (day-to-day happiness) and Long-Term (future potential happiness).
  • Short-Term Happiness is being content with the moments that make up your day and having a positive outlook on what's going on around you. If you can surrounded yourself with positive interactions, experiences, and thoughts you'll be much happier.
  • I think there's a different type of happiness that I call Long-Term Happiness, where you have peace of mind from knowing where you're going in life, being confident in your ability to choose your future and make decisions that will continue to keep you happy throughout your life.
Thinking about it a bit more holistically, I refined the idea to be about "choice", where happiness comes from being able to choose our day-to-day environment while also feeling we can continue to choose the "big picture" things in your future.

The conversation then steered to the idea of "relevance" as the key to happiness. We're happier when we feel important, appreciated, and have a sense of purpose in our daily environment and life (co-workers, friends, family, office and home settings, work/home tasks). We're also happier when we feel that we're "relevant" to the bigger picture of life, family, community, society, mankind, etc. We know how we can fit in, contribute, and understand the relationship between what we do everyday and our general existence.

I like the idea of relevance because it covers the idea of Short-Term and Long-Term Happiness.

  • What do you think?
  • If you had to distill happiness into a few words, what would it be?

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