This is worth reading just because it’s interesting: an article on what actually makes people happy, which often has little to do with what people think will make them happy.
To boil the article down to 3 points (we read, so you don’t have to!):
- Small but frequent comforts (say, a pair of shoes that really fits) can do more to make you happy than intensely joyful but infrequent events (say, winning the lottery). When it comes to happiness, frequency trumps intensity.
- People know when we’re happy, but we’re only so-so at predicting what will bring us lasting contentment. We assume that big events—winning the lottery, losing a leg—will permanently alter our sense of wellbeing. But apparently we humans are pretty good at getting used to things, and the joy or disappointment of what might seem like “life changing” events can fade pretty quickly.
- Finally, when it comes to happiness, comparisons to peers really do matter. Living in a modest home in a neighborhood of mansions can make you feel lousy, since you’re reminded of your relative deprivation every time you leave home. As one happiness researcher puts it, “the brain is a difference detector; almost everything that it senses, it senses as a comparison.”
My takeaway: I should quit playing the lottery, and use the money I save to buy some new shoes. Oh, yeah—and I should never leave the confines of my own house.