When it comes to happiness, we're settling for less without knowing we’re settling.
It’s like we're still playing with wooden rackets, watching black-and-white TVs and listening to 8-track tapes.
Titanium rackets, QLED TVs and Apple Music are out there, but it’s like we haven’t noticed.
There are 3 categories in an authoritative yearly survey of happiness in America: 1 – “Not too happy” 2 – “Pretty happy” 3 – “Very happy” In 2018, the average was 2.18.
In some surveys, a small percentage of people don’t tell the truth because they don’t want to admit something. It’s common with very controversial political candidates.
I hope there’s a significant exaggeration factor in that 2.18. In other words, I wish it were lower. That might sound cruel. It's the opposite.
I want the standard for what we call “happy” in our culture to be much higher. It’s far below the human capacity for happiness. There’s a different type of happiness – a top tier that most people don’t know exists, but is readily attainable and sustainable.
I say this in all humility because I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. My background is described at the bottom of this post. That’s the potatoes. I’ll give you the meat first.
In our culture, most us were raised on a myth:
Happiness can be earned only through action or achievement (e.g. succeeding in your career, spending your life with the right person, having a family, being a good person).
But you also have to learn happiness as a skill.
You have to recognize that it's already within you.
Then you have to bring it to the forefront of your life.
Fortunately, there's a simple, fast and incredibly effective way to do the last three.
The general approach has been working for thousands of years. It's almost unknown in our culture. But it's growing fast for a reason.
First, let's look at our standards. Here are some questions to consider.
RATING HAPPINESS AROUND YOU
· From immediate family to strangers, how much conflict, drama and resentment do you see? Are most interactions pleasant, neutral or unpleasant?
· If you walk by ten people, how many of them look happy?
· What’s the average state of marriages?
· What’s the typical tone of parents’ voices talking to their kids at shopping centers?
· How much complaining and cynicism do you hear vs. encouragement and optimism at your job?
· What’s the tone of debate on social media or the news?
Does this to add up to a 2.18 – a little better than “pretty happy” in the survey?
ASSESSING YOUR OWN LEVEL OF HAPPINESS
· How often do you feel that you're doing something you're purely enjoying vs. as a means to an end?
· How dependent is your happiness on outcomes and events, or your life circumstances (e.g. employment, state of marriage or relationship, finances, health and family)?
· How many hours a day do you feel stressed, worried or both?
· When you achieve or experience something you've been looking forward to, how long does fulfillment last?
· How happy would you feel sitting down with nothing to do for an hour, without meditating or praying or doing anything else?
· Do you agree or disagree with: “Life is hard” or “Life is a struggle”?
· Most importantly, how often do you feel happy minute-to-minute vs. looking back on a week, a month or a year?
If you wish two or more of your answers were more positive, you're definitely in Tier 1 at the highest! (Tier one is the lower level.)
Here is how I define the two tiers:
THE TWO TIERS OF HAPPINESS
(Tier 1 vs. Tier 2)
Fleeting vs. Lasting
Event-driven vs. Your underlying state.
Inner peace with a high threshold for being disrupted vs. Unshakable even amid life’s toughest challenges
Seeking fulfillment based on the outcome of an event or milestone vs. Experiencing fulfillment while pursuing events or milestones
You work well under pressure vs. You don't feel pressure
Relationships well above average vs. Feeling you don't need anything from anyone to fulfill you. You feel "complete," but you love other people's company.
If the Tier 2 description sounds unrealistic:
1) That’s a big part of the problem. We settle for less without knowing we're setting.
2) It’s not unrealistic– Tier 2 happiness is a way of life for millions of people worldwide, thanks to a little-known but proven approach that’s been working literally for ages. It has been adapted in recent generations.
Looking the Other Way is the cornerstone of my 8-week 1:1 MeaningOfLife.com Combining Success and Happiness Program. It's rooted in two ancient traditions. With my background as a communications executive, 30-year student of wellness, three years as a wellness executive and widely read wellness blogger, and three years at MeaningOfLife.com, I’ve simplified and adapted the approach for mainstream 21st century business and society, with a visual emphasis.
We all have a limitless, innate source of happiness within us. It couldn't be easier to find, but we all overlook it. I did for 50 years.
As I said, happiness requires more than just achievement. You got that! It requires discovering that source of happiness and the skill to sustain it.
If you understand and pay enough attention in the right way to the source of happiness, you will be in the top-tier of happiness.
If that sounds too simple, that's what I thought, too. But that's not the problem. The problem is that other ones are too damn complicated.
I'm as sure as I can be that this coaching program is the simplest, fastest approach to lasting happiness and effortless success you'll ever find.
Way back when, I had talk therapy appointments for hundreds of dollars where I seemed to be interrupting the therapist's nap and I did 99% of the talking. So I give my clients a money-back guarantee. If you're interested in learning more, shoot me as a message!
Each of us has roughly 400 defective genes. I have one that can trigger many symptoms and illnesses. It went undiscovered until I turned 50. It can wreak havoc on mood and attention.
Its symptoms are easily and directly treatable – if you know about it.
Of course, I didn’t in 1988. A year after graduating from Harvard, I experienced extreme depression and anxiety, along with ADHD, that had been worsening since age 12. I thought very seriously about ending my life. I even made a plan.
But imagining my mother getting the worst call a mom can get – and the last call a police officer wants to make -- held me back.
Fortunately, the symptoms are treatable in a combination of indirect ways. But they’re different for everyone, so it’s trial-and-error.
Medication stabilized me and helped me function, but that's not happiness.
I didn't let the "gene thing" slow me down. I went on to have a fascinating career, get married, have two amazing kids (perfect in their own unruly ways:-), great friends and family, and now I even do stand-up comedy.
But happiness? That was a long-term project.
Along the way, I tried spirituality, meditation, talk therapy, visualization, yoga, breathing exercises, hypnosis, you name it. I even found a storage room to secretly meditate in when I worked at Goldman Sachs!
Some of the approaches were very helpful. I felt better and better and eventually concluded that my emotional well-being was about the same as my peers'.
But I never lost my fascination with happiness – and curiosity about how good it could get. This is life, right? I wanted to reach the outer limits.
Life felt like a dream after the defective gene was found and treated with a prescription supplement. I had learned so much about happiness that I knew could help others.
I left Corporate America in 2017, founded MeaningOfLife.com and starting teaching the MeaningOfLife.com Tame Your Mind, Love Your Life Workshop. It brought together the greatest hits of everything I’d ever learned about happiness and emotional well-being.
But I radically changed the curriculum and created a coaching program after learning the general approach to what I consider the silver bullet for lasting happiness and effortless success.