Goals That Will Make You Happier

I would like to be happier, but my goals have only vaguely reflected this desire, mainly instead revolving around stuff that I think would be cool, rather than would actually make me happier.

So recently I read a bunch of different books about the science of happiness. Contrary to popular belief, happiness isn’t like a butterfly, where if you chase it, it just runs away. Happiness is instead like literally everything else in life, when you pursue you it, you increase your likelihood of getting it IF you actually know how it works, and most people (literally almost everyone) doesn’t understand it, because it’s not intuitive, at all. Think of all the things you think would make you happier. You’d be wrong about at least half of them. Don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s everyone.

You can set intelligent goals that will make you happier, but not if you rely on intuition over scientific research. We simply suck as guessing how different things will impact our level of happiness, mainly because our instincts have to do with survival, not happiness. Humans (and all life-forms) evolved to survive, not be happy, and once our needs are already met, our biology doesn’t tell us to slow down.

So rather than continue my haphazard attempts at crafting a lifestyle and habits that I think might make me happier but I wasn’t really sure about, I decided I should actually dig into the science.

So I read “Lost Connections”, “The Happiness Trap”, “Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile”, “Hardwiring Happiness” and “Authentic Happiness”, which were all jam-packed with useful, actionable, scientifically proven methods of improving your average mood.

Some key paradigm shifts I had whilst reading all this were:

You can’t control your thoughts.

Don’t believe me? Try to not think about vanilla ice-cream. Try to not think about how it tastes. Try not to think about how it smells. Try not to think about eating it right now? Did you succeed? No. This is the same for everything, so trying to “control” your thoughts to make them pleasant rather than unpleasant doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. What about all those books that preach this as a way of making you happier? They are toilet paper. All of them. But you can turn down the power that your thoughts have over you by observing them more often in a detached way. “The Happiness Trap” has great exercises for how to do this.

Community is key.

Do you know what happened to your ancestors who were not accepted members of their community? They died. Studies in these books about other primates as well as studies on humans reveals a powerful connection between those who were outcasts or lacked social ties and those who were miserable, stressed and had a lower life expectancy. Having internet friends doesn’t do dick for your feeling of being accepted in your community. Not knowing who your neighbours are and not feeling like you’re a part of something, in evolutionary terms, is a precarious situation to be in. This was a big reminder for me to actually engage in community service, community activities and join a community organisation.

Ugly, anti-social cities suck.

Greener areas, which encourage social ties between neighbours and are safe and not noisy are significantly better to your happiness to the alternative. And the alternative has been the places I’ve been living, for years and years.

The new goals I created for myself, after reading this book:

Reconnect With Meaningful Values

Become Excellent At Mindfulness Meditation
Become Excellent At Love & Kindness Meditation
Become relatively unmaterialistic

Financial Security

Live in a safe, green area with a home that is quiet
Have work I have control over and derive meaning from
Be financially secure

Connect With Other People

Build Rich Social Connections based on shared purpose
Be Someone Who Does Community Service & Activities Often

Happy Personality

Become more extraverted
Become less neurotic

Regularly reflect on thoughts

Be Good At Gratitude Journalling Regularly
Be excellent at doing CBT on self
Be excellent at doing ACT on self
Be excellent at doing BA on self

Fill my day with Hobbies

Be someone who exercises regularly in nature

Develop a complex self-image

Some of these goals I’ve already largely achieved and are just reminders to keep on track, others are totally new for me.
I have developed an extensive plan on how I’m going to pursue each of these goals, which will take a very long time, and I can’t wait to get started.

The best book of the bunch was “The How Of Happiness”, if you’re interested in actually living a happy life, I strongly recommend you check it out here

The best app for monitoring your progress with happiness is called, astonishingly: “Track Your Happiness”, you can get it here

Here’s to a happier you 🙂

 

2 thoughts on “Goals That Will Make You Happier

  1. Tracy Browning

    I strongly believe that building strong connections with others that include family, friends and community is very worthwhile though sometimes difficult to achieve. I am glad your research also shows this strongly links to your personal happiness and I am proud that you allow us to share this journey with you.

    Having lived in the country most of my life I can’t image not being surrounded by nature. My city friends think I am missing out by being based in the country but actually I think we have the best of both worlds.

    No doubt now that you are city based you will find a way of reconnecting with something that is fundamental to your upbringing to give you a sense of peace and fulfillment.

    Like

    Reply

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