Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TED Review: What is Happiness?

Kenny sent me (in fact is for Mei Ru) a link to TED: Ideas worth spreading. Basically it talks about interesting ideas which are quite enlightening.

The second video (the 1st one is about less people are dying due to war nowadays) I watched is about “What positive psychology can help you become” by Martin Seligman. His talk is a bit deep and not very clear, but I did manage to catch a few points and draw my conclusion.

Basically, there are 3 type of Happy Life.

Pleasant Life
We make ourselves happy by making ourselves happy, such as buying the PS3 I always wanted, go for an expensive dinner, go for a vacation, pamper ourselves with SPA, get a pet, etc. Or we can do something which we enjoy such as music, painting, dancing, sports, etc, all in the name to make ourselves happy.

Good Life
We use our best strength to make our life better. I am an introvert, so I won’t do Sales and Marketing (that would make me miserable), so I work in the back office and be a good programmer, something which I am good at and I got satisfied doing that. If I am pretty and handsome, perhaps I should try modeling or something which can make good use of my strength and advantage. I would get the attention and satisfaction of achievement, thus make myself happy. It’s an engagement of something, an engagement of being a good wife or husband, a good reporter or a good leader.

Meaningful Life
Still using our strength and advantage, but not for ourselves but something greater than ourselves: for charity, for world peace, for god, etc. If you are a superstar, you could be the spokesperson for charity organization. If you are a good teacher, you could teach poor children for free. If you are good at singing, you could entertain people who need you.

So what is Happiness, or rather Life Satisfaction?

Life Satisfaction = Pleasure + Engagement + Meaningful

It seems like Life Satisfaction had nothing to do with Pleasure at all, so buying a PS3 won’t really make me more satisfied. Meaningful play the biggest role, as it gives the biggest satisfaction knowing that we help others, the communities or the world. Engagement is important as well, knowing that we are good at something and people around less actually appreciate it.

“If you want happiness, do you want misery? If you don’t have misery, how do you know that you are happy?” What is the relation of Misery with Happiness? If you take away all the misery, would you automatically be happy?

Misery (Negative) - Normal (Neutral) - Happiness (Positive)

Would you agree that by taking away misery will only make you feel less miserable (nearer to neutral), but not actually happy? You would still need Engagement and Meaningful purpose to achieve happiness.

I think I always know for the fact that if I keep thinking about myself only (about my work, my happiness), I am not really “good”; basically I am still being “selfish”, or ignorant thinking is okay for everyone to think for themselves. I should think for others, starting with people around me and expand further: in the process giving me the Engagement and Meaning in life eventually.

If I truly believe in this theory (or fact), then I should be thinking about how to make others life less miserable, or how to make them happy. But do I truly believe in it and will try to follow it? Perhaps I am still at the Good Life stage.

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