happiness

Podcast

Richard Gould: Learning From Ancient Human Cultures

Were they happier than we are?
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 12:17 PM

Richard Gould is a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Brown University (where I was his student) and one of the foremost experts on hunter-gatherer societies. In the 1960s, he and his wife spent years living with the aborigines in Australia's Western Desert, observing first-hand their way of life. Through study of these people and many others around the world, his work focused on understanding how human culture and behavior adapts to environmental stress, risk and uncertainty.

We've invited him to this week's podcast to discuss what insights ancient cultures may be able to offer in terms of "natural human behavior" that may fit well within our specie's blueprint. » Read more

Blog

Ward Hooper

Finding Your Way to Your Authentic Career

Transition to the fulfilling work you were meant to do
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 10:22 PM

Unfulfilled by your job? Wish the work you do on a daily basis were more aligned with the person you are (your interests and values)?

You're not alone.

In fact, the majority of workers would chose a different career path if given the chance. » Read more

Insider

Frustrated & Bored, Yet Happy

At least being stuck in limbo offers time to prepare
Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:10 PM

I am happy, bored, and frustrated all at the same time. 

My frustration is one I share with everyone who believes that fundamentals (a.k.a. 'reality') matter.  This frustration is fueled by the endlessly-propped financial markets in which good news and bad news are both good and worse news seems to be even better.  No matter what the latest headline might say, it seems to ignite a new round of buying of stocks, bonds, and anything else that the central banks deem worthy of dressing up.  » Read more

Daily Digest

Image by West Point Public Affairs, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 3/29 - Cyprus Banks Reopen, U.S. Army Fights Brain Drain

Friday, March 29, 2013, 12:46 PM
  • It’s head for “the mattresses” time for savers worldwide
  • Cyprus banks reopen amid tight security and tough curbs
  • Cyprus - The Answer Is Uniastrum
  • Hundreds Of Armed Vigilantes Seize Mexican Town, Arrest Local Police
  • After court rules Hollande he can’t put 75% tax on salaries, French President vows to hit companies directly
  • Les misérables: Despite welfare state and wine, unhappiness reigns in France
  • Hollowed out: US Army fights brain drain
  • Highest paid banker on Wall Street suing renovators of neighbouring building for ruining view from his 360-degree glass penthouse 
  • Should airlines start charging passengers by the pound?
  • More Scientific Evidence Linking Fracking and Earthquakes
  • Money for aquaculture, but not wild salmon, critics note
Insider

Finding Authentic Happiness

The steps that build a solid foundation
Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 7:22 AM

Executive Summary

  • Why buying into the Status Quo undermines personal empowerment
  • Echew debt and consumerism. Instead, focus on cultivating resilience and social capital
  • The importance of differentiating hedonia vs eudaimonia
  • The key roles of Expectation, Narrative, and Challenge
  • The foundations of happiness

If you have not yet read Part I: The Pursuit of Happiness, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we challenged the assumption that the successful pursuit of happiness is based on material prosperity and what we might call the psychology of the atomized individual.

If material prosperity is necessary but insufficient, and our social and financial order is sociopathological, what does an authentic pursuit of happiness entail?

For answers, we can survey recent research into human happiness, and consider “powering down” participation in a deranging social and financial order.

Pondering Power

The primacy of power in human society is omnipresent. Humans scramble for power in all its forms to improve social status and the odds of mating, living a long life, and acquiring comforts.  What is remarkable about the current American social order is the powerlessness of the vast majority of people who have “bought into” the Status Quo. 

When the public vehemently disapproves of a policy, such as bailing out the “too big to fail” banks, they are routinely ignored, and for good reason: They keep re-electing incumbents.  Most have little control over their employment status, workflow, or income, and most devote the majority of their productive effort servicing private debt and paying taxes that service public debt.

The one “power” they are encouraged to flex is the momentary empowerment offered by purchasing something; i.e., consuming.  The corporate marketing machine glorifies acquisition as not just empowering but as the renewal of identity and the staking of a claim to higher social status – everything that is otherwise out of the control of the average person.

The dominant social control myth of our consumerist Status Quo is that wealth is power because you can buy more things with it.  But the power of consumption is one-dimensional and therefore illusory.  The only meaningful power is not what you can buy – a good, service, or experience – but what you control – your health, choice of work, income, surroundings, level of risk, and your circle of colleagues and friends.

The “wealthy” who own an abundance of things but who are trapped in debt are not powerful.  Their choices in life are limited by the need to service the debt, and their pursuit of happiness is equally constrained.

The kind of wealth that enriches the pursuit of happiness is control over the meaningful aspects of life. It is no coincidence that studies of workplace stress have found that those jobs in which the worker has almost no control over their work or surroundings generate far more stress than jobs that allow the worker some autonomy and control.

Financial and material wealth beyond the basics of creature comfort is only meaningful if it “buys” autonomy and choice.

We all want power over our own lives.  Once we free ourselves from social control myths, we find that becoming powerful and “wealthy” in terms of control does not require a financial fortune. It does, however, require sustained effort and a coherent long-term plan... » Read more

Blog

The Pursuit of Happiness

Putting prosperity in context
Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 7:21 AM

What is the point of prosperity?

Though few people ever voice this question openly, the general assumption is that prosperity and wealth increase happiness.  The pursuit of happiness (famously grouped with “life” and “liberty” in the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right) has become the pursuit of prosperity and wealth.

That physical comfort and security grease the skids of happiness is self-evident; living a hand-to-mouth existence inside a cardboard box is not as conducive to human happiness as having a comfortable home and secure income.

But it is equally self-evident that a secure dwelling and income do not guarantee happiness; rather, they provide the physical foundation for the much more elusive qualities of happiness.  We can make the same distinction between the civil liberties that underpin the pursuit of happiness and the actual pursuit of happiness. » Read more