Do this to live 8 years longer — and feel happier
Instead of fat savings accounts for Oscars, Pulitzers, and Nobel Prizes, Brooks believes what we really need is a “happiness 401(k),” a plan to find and cultivate permanent, lasting happiness, the kind that comes from understanding what truly brings lasting meaning to your life , not just temporary states of contentment, satiety, pride, pleasure, or delight.
There is nothing wrong with setting goals or having ambitions, as long as you understand that achieving those goals will not lead to lasting happiness. Many of us make the mistake of thinking that if we just do X, we will be happy. When I finally buy a house, I will be satisfied. When I finally get the position, I can relax. When I finally make a million dollars, life will be good.
There is a name for this tendency of people to run from one pleasure or goal to the next: the hedonic treadmill. The problem with the hedonic treadmill is its fundamental principle: you always return to your starting level of happiness. You can become the highest paid influencer in the world and it will be great for a while, but then you will go back to being as happy or unhappy as you were before. Except now you’ve had a little dopamine hit and can’t wait to get back on the treadmill and find a new high.
This happens with money, fame, success, admiration – all idols. They give us a lot of happiness, but it never lasts. And we always want more. Nothing kills your joy faster than chronic dissatisfaction.