How do you find what makes you happy?

Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 08:15 am
When you get thanks, do you like that?
Thanks can be said or not said in many different ways.
Polite people always say thanks even if they wish they could kick you in your....
Sometimes I call a friend and she never says thank you for calling, but " you made my day, you always make me laugh"......or something like that. Others say something in that style.
I get angry when I mail a package with a gift and people don´t bother to let me know if it arrived. It is not so much a question of a thank you, but me not having to call up and ask if it arrived.
When I take care of someone´s pets for a week of course they say thank you, but that is not the most important it usually comes "thanks - can I invite you out for breakfast/dinner/movies, theatre.
There the thanks is less important than what comes afterwards.

In Scandinavia we always - at least we should - call and say thank you for a nice evening/dinner or what ever.
I have done that in Germany too, where it is not tradition and got the answer:"Hoffentlich hat es Ihnen gut bekommen?" which translated sounds somelike like "Hopefully you felt well afterwards?"
I did not know how to react first. Was the food spoiled somehow, was the wine bad, why should I not feel well afterwards?
I usually said"Fine thank you - I did not drink too much and had no hangover the next day" Which made the Germans all confused,
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 08:51 am
- Do things that garner thanks.
I do things because I like to - even if I don´t get thanks.

I have been thinking about this one for a while. When I first read your post my immediate response was "you're right, I wonder what my motives are when I do for others". But upon reflection, I am not taking my elderly friend to the Dr. because I want to get thanks. I actually get some amazing information from her. I learn, I laugh - it is so totally selfish that I take her to the doctor. I want her company. Now, of course I appreciate a thank you - but if I break it down that is not the reason for my doing for her. My reason is she needs a ride and I love to be with her.

Now - I wonder how much I would enjoy taking a cranky old goat to the dr. every few weeks? I am not sure about that. Wink

But even when I do things, like make a meal for a sick friend, or someone who just had a baby - my intent is truly to help...because I know what it feels like not to be able to get up and cook for my family. I really don't think twice about a thank you. I usually get one. But even if I didn't I would still do it...but you are right when you say that you can see the gratefulness from a friend when you do something for them...which makes you happy. So maybe it is true...it does sound a little contrived when put like "Do things that garner thanks." But it doesn't really change the fact that it does make you happy - in my thought processes anyway.
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 09:01 am
it is so totally selfish that I take her to the doctor

that was an overstatement...but I think you know what I mean...
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 09:09 am
That's right, helping others makes one happy for having done something completely free of ulterior motives. The "thank you" might not come from the
same person per se, but it will come from others who help you in many ways
you would not have expected. So the old saying "what goes around, comes around" is certainly true.

Happiness is different for every person, the key is to find what makes you
feel good and content.

maporsche, I think you're an a cross road in your life (mid 30 I guess), you're
getting married very soon, probably will have children down the road and
then your priorities and your life will change. Once you have kids, you will
find that one night without any interruptions of baby crying will make you
happy. You will find out that much simpler things will give you pleasure.

Then there are some people who are extremely happy not having kids,
it truly is an individual feeling of what drives you and what gives you pleasure in life.

I also would stay away from such books who are way to generic to follow.
I am sure there are good pointers here and there, but basically should be
an insight to a different life perspective only.
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 10:10 am
sozobe wrote:
I'm finding 'em all the time...



I don't think I'd be able to link to all of them.
I can probably find the TV study if you'd like.

YES. Thank u; I accept.
I have opened a Happiness File,
wherein I have copied all of the fruits of your research
(that I know about) in this regard.
We share an area of common interest.

The value of beauty is that it creates happiness;
Happiness makes life worthwhile.

Meanwhile, hadn't gotten to the Tuesday "Science Times" (NYT) until now, just opened it et voila:

What Are Friends For? A Longer Life

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

U have my gratitude.
I have copied it into my Happiness File.

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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 03:10 pm
maporsche wrote:
. . . The closest I've come is that I enjoy trying out new things and going on new adventures, but I'm not sure if that's going to be enough to keep me motivated to succeed.

I'm worried about getting stuck in a rut, and feeling that I've achieved enough, and losing my drive. . . .

To succeed at what?
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 03:58 pm
I'm "happy" when I'm involved, a vague term that I'd say means I fulfill my curiosity in some way, or I am getting some satisfaction in a process that might not be heavy intellectual involvement - say, pulling weeds - but is a kind of grooming behavior re the detritis of life. Usually happy in creative behavior, whether it is making soup, or, more interesting, working out a design.

I am probably most sparked when a design comes together.

I'm pretty much happy when I'm thinking, however much disgruntlement the thinking may cause in my views.

I'm usually happy having real conversations with people, whether or not we agree.

I'm often happy seeing things/places around me, and happy with music. Alternately, I can get highly annoyed..

I am peaceful when people I love connect with me too. I'm often happy enough with just the liking or the loving.

Sometimes I'm plain old happy for others.
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 04:02 pm
Map, no advice from me, really... you are starting to pay attention to all this, which I think will be a help in tuning in to yourself.
I'm pretty resistant to help books, cds, et al. I'm very strong on figuring out myself, right or wrong. But I understand getting help from sources - I'm just explaining myself.
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 04:05 pm
maporsche wrote:
I'm worried about getting stuck in a rut, and feeling that I've achieved enough, and losing my drive.

what is your drive for?
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 04:37 pm
What makes us happy is different things to different people.

From time to time I like going to funerals or Celebrations of Life of people I don't know. I went to one once of a 64 yr old woman who died of cancer. What an eye-opener. This woman was loved by so many people, I felt grateful just to be there and learn about her.

Or maybe you're talking about deeper, more personal-to-you, longer-lasting experiences?

I don't know - I just do what I want to do and that makes me happy. Like working part-time instead of full-time. Cooking in the bush or doing an art camp for kids. I like different things all the time, like cuisines, music, theatre, etc., and love it all.

I have no idea what would make you happy, but as someone suggested, starting with a list of things might help.
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Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 07:01 pm
THAT's the question George.

I'm doing really well at work, and have been progressively getting promoted pretty much every year or year and a half. Where my problem is now, is that I don't know what all this 'success' is getting me besides more money. I don't that that's enough for me.
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 08:31 pm
On a slight tangent, I'm currently discovering that the "program" you're describing is a pretty close match with philosophy of Epicurus (ca. 300 b.C.) It's quite amazing that psychologists and behavioral economists are rediscovering 2300 year old insights these days -- and winning Nobel Prizes for it.
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 02:53 am
Better than NOT re-discovering them?

Every bastard should have to study philosophy.
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 05:21 am
Are you interested in a special country?
Or do you know where your ancestors came from?
How about learning a new language connected with those two questions
Read about the country, read authors from that country and then plan a trip there.
Don´t plan a trip to check off the places everybody think they have to see, but base it on things that you found by studying which would interest you.
If you like mystery novels I can suggest following.
If you are interested in Venice you can read Donna Leone and follow in the steps of Brunetti - there is a whole book just about where he goes. He is a detective.
I you are interested in mystery there is Henning Mankell and follow his steps in southern Sweden and you will have fun reading the books and see a beautiful part of Sweden.
If you would prefer Martin Luther eastern Germany is full of steps to follow.
Every country has one thing which you could concentrate on like that and even if you never get there you have had lots of fun planning the trip and learned a lot doing it.
There are wine trips, cooking courses in France, Tibet, Nepal anything which you might enjoy and plan carefully.
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Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 11:43 am
maporsche wrote:
. . . I don't know what all this 'success' is getting me besides more money. I don't that that's enough for me.

Probably isn't enough. And if you find yourself married with kids, you may
find that it is actually getting the way.
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Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 05:51 pm
How do you find what makes you happy? Exempt all the conditions that don't make you happy. It's a simple process of elimination.
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Reply Fri 24 Apr, 2009 05:31 am
Plus I love the studies -- I always like it when intuitive "I thought so"s are proven through scientific studies. (Philosophy isn't quite a hard science.)

Most all of these I read about after I'd already figured them out -- to address the "thank-you" thing, for example, I didn't read about it and THEN go out and start doing good deeds. It's something I've always done, and when I read about studies showing how important it is to happiness, I said "A-ha! Thought so."

David, I've found these studies all over the place -- the New York Times Science Times section (Tuesdays) and the New Yorker (occasionally, no pattern) are probably the main sources, but I just read a lot and these studies always catch my eye when I come across them.

Here's the TV ad one:

“If you adapt so quickly to pleasurable activities, and the pleasure decreases, how do you sustain a level of happiness or ever move up on the scale?”

One way people do this, research suggests, is to favor novel experiences over material goodies. The smell of a new car may go to a person’s head for months. But the memory of a mind-bending trek through the Australian outback " or the Amsterdam museums " seems to provide longer-lasting psychological sustenance, some researchers argue. In some studies, couples report greater satisfaction in their relationship after trying new things together.

The new consumer research analyzed similar dynamics at a moment-to-moment level. In one experiment, Dr. Nelson, along with Tom Meyvis and Jeff Galak of New York University, had 87 undergraduates watch an episode of the sitcom “Taxi.” Half watched it as it was originally broadcast, with commercials for the Jewelry Factory Store and the law office of Michael Brownstein, among other ads. The other half watched the show straight through, without commercials.

After the show was over, the students rated how much they enjoyed it, using an 11-point scale and comparing it with the sitcom “Happy Days,” which they were all familiar with.. Those who saw “Taxi” without commercials preferred “Happy Days”, but those who saw the original show, Jewelry Factory Store and all, preferred “Taxi” by a significant margin.


This one is actually more of a "really? cool" than a "a-ha!" -- which is the other part I find fascinating about happiness studies -- how bad humans are at making themselves happy, in general, because their predictions of what would make them happy are so frequently off-base (as in the McMansion example).
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Reply Fri 24 Apr, 2009 11:00 pm
I read a simple thing by Sonny Rollins (old sax player). He said - 'The goal is never to be too happy or too sad'. I try to remember that.

Happiness is fleeting. Maybe it gets confused with 'contentment' which is longer lasting. Just my 3 pennies worth.

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Diest TKO
Reply Sat 25 Apr, 2009 05:48 pm
Hey Map,

I've always thought that what makes me happy isn't going to be a discovery as much as what I make/create. I understand your feelings about being stuck in a rut.

I struggle everyday to try and understand where I fit in the world. I guess it's my own little quarter-life crisis. I guess my problem is that I always thought that someday I'd find myself somewhere and people would be like "we've been waiting for you."

I've come since to understand that those times when I fit best were not me discovering a niche, but building one.

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Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 05:12 pm
Really liked, and agreed with, this talk on www.ted.com:

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