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Three Biggest Happiness Rules

Three Biggest Happiness Rules

The Atlantic includes an article: "Three Biggest Happiness Rules—A good life isn’t just about getting the details right. Here are some truths that transcend circumstance and time" by Arthur C. Brooks.

Some large truths from the science of happiness that can transcend circumstance and time, guiding us across all of our life’s events, from the trivial to the momentous.  These are, you might say, the three maxims of happiness.

Maxim 1: Mother Nature doesn’t care if you are happy.

 the greatest error people make about happiness is assuming it will come naturally if we follow our instincts—that is, If it feels good, do it. There’s a simplistic sort of logic here: Humans desire lots of worldly rewards, like money, power, pleasure, and admiration. We also want to be happy. Thus, if we get that worldly stuff, we will be happy. But this is nature’s cruelest hoax, perpetrated to make sure that we pass on our genes with no consideration of whether we enjoy doing so.

Your brain’s reward system keeps you chasing earthly delights that will enhance your reproductive fitness in comparison with others.  These fall broadly into the categories of money, power, pleasure, and honor, which the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas called substitutes for God.  Whether you buy Aquinas’s assessment or not, you can’t really argue with him that these rewards overpromise and underdeliver happiness.  They simply don’t satisfy.

Happiness is your responsibility, not Mother Nature’s. That means you need to curtail your worldly appetites, and instead pursue what truly brings enduring happiness: a faith or life philosophy, family relationships, real friendship, and meaningful work.

Maxim 2: Lasting happiness comes from habits, not hacks.

We live in a culture of “hacking,” or finding shortcuts to achieve otherwise time-consuming goals or invade well-protected systems.  

The internet is full of “happiness hacks” that will supposedly boost your well-being in surprising ways, with little effort. And indeed, you can use small, easy actions to change your emotional state quickly, such as turning off the notifications on your phone, which I highly recommend. 

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