Are You Happy?

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Are You Happy?

Aug 11, 2021

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. But how important is YOUR happiness?

It’s up to you.

You decide how much happiness means to you.

Just like you decide what makes you happy.

And if you judge yourself to be happy or not.

You can choose to be happy if you learn how.

In future episodes, I’ll be featuring questions from listeners- other life owners like you. If you have a question, topic or situation you’d like for us to explore, email me at with ‘podcast question’ in the subject line.

What You’ll Learn From This Episode: Are You Happy?

  • Who decides how much happiness means to you and what makes you happy?
  • Can you learn how to be happy?
  • There are different kinds of happiness and it’s okay to want them all. There are some common threads among them.
  • Upcoming episodes: toxic positivity; happiness messages in music

Featured On The Show | Are You Happy?

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Are You Happy?

No matter what is wrong with the world in general, and your life in particular, you can choose to be happy if you learn how.

And that is something current research shows us- happiness is a skill that can be developed. It’s like building your muscles when you work out, you can build your happiness ability.

~Intro Music~

Hey, I’m glad you’re here!
This is episode 8 and I want to know- are you happy?

What do you think when you hear that question? Do you roll your eyes and think “Oh good grief, there are more important things in the world to wonder about than if I’m happy.”
Do you cringe because you’re not sure you want to know the answer to the question?
Have you even given any thought lately to whether or not you’re happy?

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about it.
Somebody somewhere decided August is officially Happiness Month and because I happen to like happiness a lot- I’m jumping on the train. I’ll be talking about happiness over the next several episodes.

Happiness is a HUGE topic. Philosophers spend their lives contemplating it. Billions and billions with a B, billions of dollars are spent towards the pursuit of happiness. Most people spend their lives chasing it. So I’m promising you an exhaustive coverage of the topic. But I’m going to share some studies and some stories and ask you to think about it for yourself.

Today I’m focusing on the general concept of happiness. Next episode, we’ll talk toxic positivity. Ooh, think I need some ominous music for that- da-da-dummm. Then I have an episode planned where we’ll look at different messages in music about happiness because I like music and happiness. It’ll be fun. It brings me happiness.

Let’s start with this.

Is happiness important?

Do you think of happiness like cotton candy- it’s this insubstantial fluff, a delightful poof of sugar that melts in your mouth then it’s gone- or do you think of happiness like steak and potatoes that has substance and sticks to your ribs?

The founders of our country certainly thought happiness is important. It’s written in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That doesn’t seem to me that they were thinking of cotton candy happiness there.
The PURSUIT of happiness- not the guarantee.
They saw it as an inalienable right to go after the things that make you happy.
Maybe you obtain it, maybe you don’t.
And they didn’t define what happiness was.
I like that.

The importance of happiness is up to you.
You decide how much it means to you.
Just like you decide what makes you happy.
And if you judge yourself to be happy or not.
Yeah, there’s a LOT of ‘you decides’ here

because happiness is up to you.

Now there are all different kinds of happy.
Exuberant over-the-top kind of joy. There’s contentment in everyday moments.
Maybe you’re happy because you have something or you’re happy because you’re experiencing something.

Marcus Aurelius, he was a Stoic philosopher from centuries back, he said,
“No matter what is wrong with the world in general, and your life in particular, you can choose to be happy if you learn how.”

And that is something current research shows us- happiness is a skill that can be developed. It’s like building your muscles when you work out, you can build your happiness ability.

Now, there’s a guy I want to talk about. He’s a psychologist and there’s two different things I want to share about hime. His name is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [pronounced Mee-hai-ee chik-sent-mee-hai-ee].

He was a psychologist, he was a Hungarian psychologist.

He discovered people find genuine satisfaction when they’re in a state of Flow, when they’re completely absorbed in their activity. Think of someone painting and they’re like so focused on their art. Or a basketball player shooting foul shots in his practice over and over, totally in the rhythm of dribble, dribble, shoot, swish, dribble, dribble, shoot, swish. Or maybe someone at work who is paying absolute attention to what they’re doing and shutting out all the distractions around them.
Being in flow is a wonderful type of happiness.

But I want to share another kind of small happiness I’ve experienced associated with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
I had seen his name written but had never been able to pronounce it. And I’m probably still not quite getting it exactly right but I’m trying. Now, I’d never heard it said until I heard my friend Aree Bly give her TedX talk on alignment and flow. I’ll link to her TedX talk in my transcript because she does a fabulous job. Oh, she’s so excellent in how she talks about alignment and how you realign and can reset yourself and get back in flow. But one of the things that really impressed me was when I heard his name just roll off her tongue- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

And I thought, “I can’t even begin to say it. Oh no!” But some of the things that I value in life are knowledge and rising up to a challenge, even a small one. So I decided I wanted to learn how to say his name. I googled it. I heard Google say it. I studied the breakdown of the pronunciation. And I practiced saying it. Oh gosh, I have said his name over and over today. I still have to look at it and study it very carefully. And it’s brought me happiness because I’ve taken action that aligns with my values.

That’s an important component of happiness that I see-
when our actions align with what we value.

Sometimes it’s not always obvious.

I was having coffee with my friend Michael the other day. It was so cool because we’ve known each other for a couple of years now but we’ve only met on Zoom until Friday when we got to have coffee in person. So it was so much fun!

But we were talking about happiness and what makes us happy and he said “I want to tell you this crazy thing that makes me happy.” He’s got this app on his phone where he can collect virtual tokens that he can use to play games on the app and, more importantly, he can save up and redeem these tokens for real life experiences in Las Vegas. Like 2 for 1 buffets or going to a show like Cirque de Soliel or free hotel nights. He can collect tokens on the app every couple of hours and he DOES it. And he’s done it faithfully for 2 years. He said, “This is crazy, right? I’m disciplined about this crazy app but I’m not disciplined about doing pushups.”
So we’re laughing about it and I said, “Dude, it makes perfect sense to me.”
I get it.

Here’s what I know about Michael and his wife Katie.
They value travel and experience more than anything else, except each other.
They even took a trip around the world a few years ago. It was like right after they got married and they took pictures of them in their wedding finery. Katie’s hauling her wedding dress all around the world. But they’ve got these shots of them saying “I do” over and over again in all these incredibly cool places. They value the travel experience. And with this app, Michael has an easy, painless way to accumulate travel perks.
He doesn’t love the app. He doesn’t even gamble or play the games on the app. He just pulls it up every couple of hours, collects the tokens and gets closer to the experiences that he knows are going to add to his happiness.
So his little app clicking, his actions, they’re lining up, they’re aligning with his values.

Now there’s a social psychologist named Dr. Liz Dunn who co-authored a book “Happy Money” and the first chapter is called Buy Experiences. She’s advocating the superiority of experiences over things to get more happiness.

Now she had a grad student named Aaron Weidman who disagreed with her on this chapter. She knows this because he came to her and he told her, “Hey, I think experiences are overrated.” They discussed it [and here’s what I love- they discussed their disagreement and they kept on talking and decided to investigate further] So they decided they’d study it because Aaron thought previous studies looked at how people felt about their previous purchases of experiences or material things but they hadn’t captured people right in the moment of enjoyment of their purchases.

Here’s what the study was like. They started on Christmas Day. Aaron texted people 3-5 times a day for 2 weeks asking them about their happiness with either a material gift or an experiential gift that they’d gotten.

And one of the things they found was that these people were reporting more frequent happiness from material gifts. This is the part that previous studies had missed. They hadn’t captured the little boost of momentary happiness from material things. It was a smaller boost but frequent.
They checked back in with the people in the study 6 weeks after Christmas and what they found was that people were significantly more satisfied with their experiential gift than people were with material gifts. Experiences gave bigger peaks, more intense bursts of happiness.

Now here’s my takeaway: different things bring different types of happy. I want to have them all, don’t you?
It’s like going out to eat and only having dessert. I want meat and veggies and a fresh yeast roll AND dessert. I want all different kinds.

Now here’s another thing that contributes to happiness.

Being mindful.

There’s a lot of studies about this. One of them that I found, back in 2010, they just confirmed what other studies have shown us.

Our minds wander about 46.9% of the time and we’re unhappier when they wander. But wandering is like the default network of our brain. So they’re saying it’sbetter to iron and think about ironing than to iron and think about a trip to Tahiti. Think about what you’re doing. That being mindful accentuates your happiness.

Now I get this. But I also know, and I bet you do too, how many times have you let your mind wander and you had a breakthrough in what you were trying to figure out? Now this usually happens to me in the shower or when I’m out walking my dogs. In either case I have nothing to write on and so I am frantically trying to remember what is it, don’t forget the good idea. Sometimes I forget it and sometimes I remember it.

But I’m coming back to the buffet of happiness. I’m out to eat with my buffet of happiness. There’s all kinds of food, there’s all kinds of happiness. And I want different things at different times. So, yes, I do want to be mindful AND I want to let my mind wander. Both can bring me happiness.

Now another thing that’s important in happiness is

Knowing that you matter.

Do you know the #1 reason that people leave a job? I kind of set you up for this one.
They leave because they don’t feel valued.
Being valued, feeling like you matter, is a kind of happiness, a satisfied contentment, that what you’re doing matters. And not having it? People will leave their jobs. William James, one of the founders of psychology said, ‘Our deepest craving is to be appreciated.’

You know, I’ve worked in the corporate world. I’ve worked as a consultant, I’ve worked actually in the corporate world, I‘ve worked in manufacturing environments. Here’s where employers so often get it wrong. They say, “I’m paying them.” You should know that I continue to give you a paycheck so of course I appreciate what you’re doing. That’s a whole different thing.

It’s really easy to let somebody know that you appreciate them, that their work is valued.

There’s recent research, out of, I think it’s out of Berkley, where they’re doing, and they’re not the only ones doing it but it’s the most recent one that comes to mind where in the neuroscience area.
Giving a compliment, it doesn’t just light up the reward centers of the brain of the person who gets the compliment. It lights up the brains of the people who GIVE the compliment. Giving compliments, letting somebody know they’re valued, speaking kind words- it’s good for the giver AND the receiver.

I like a nice short summary so here it is.

You decide what makes you happy and IF you’re happy.
You’re likely to be happier if you keep these 3 things in mind:
align your actions with your values
Be mindful
Believe that you matter.

If you have a song with a message about happiness that you like, I’d love to hear it! We can include it in our message in music episode. Thank you for listening! If I’ve helped you think more about owning your life,I’d be honored if you’d share my podcast with a friend.

Now let’s go live, love, make some money and change the world!

By |2021-08-18T23:18:48-04:00August 10th, 2021|Podcasts|0 Comments