Happiness Is ... Maybe Not What You Think It Is

As I told you a few days ago, I feel like I've been going a little overboard with the financial stuff lately and want to get back to the nonfinancial aspects of "helping you get the best out of the rest of your life." Serendipitously, two great books have dropped into my lap. You already know about the first one, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life.

Here's the second, with a most interesting title, Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert. According to the reviews, this is a book with an intriguing premise, namely that since our memories mainly record the peaks and valleys of the events in our lives, too often we pursue happiness by trying to recreate the peaks and by avoiding the valleys, thus ignoring the common experiences, which is where we live 99% of the time. This can be fatal to our ultimate happiness and fulfillment in our lives, as it is Professor Gilbert's premise that:

"... it's the frequency - not the intensity - of positive events
in your life that really lead to happiness."
This makes sense to me. I have often noted to Melanie, the "Platinum wife," the converse of this theory. That is, I can usually muster up enough resolve to overcome larger setbacks and challenges in my life, but a series of even stupidly minor events in my day to day life can just bring me down.

If this theory really is true, it has huge implications on our decision making as we decide what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Let's say the happiest times in your life all revolved around ski vacations to Aspen. So you uproot yourself and move to Colorado, where you can ski every day if you like. And the family and friends you left behind will surely come and visit you all the time, right? And they do visit, but not as often as you'd like. And what do you know, you discover after a few months that you really CAN get tired of skiing. Not only that, but you miss the little every day family events that you took for granted. Now your relationship with your grandkids is more "holiday formal" and less every day.

Recently, I read an article on the growing number of seniors who are LEAVING Florida and returning to their "home states," or wherever their families are concentrated, for this very reason. I have often said that I'd rather be part of my grandchildren's every day lives than have a "holiday only" type of relationship. If I have to put up with a little bad weather to accomplish this, so be it.

(I want to emphasize at this point that I am writing this for those who have a some geographical choice. The good news is that many of us, no longer bound by our Life 1.0 jobs, DO now have a choice in where we live. For those with more limited choices, I DO NOT in any way intend to minimize the difficulties of having family members scattered across the country, or the extent to which these difficulties can be creatively overcome.)

So there you have it. Stay tuned, because I haven't even read this book yet. But I wanted to get YOU thinking about the relevance of this theory in YOUR life, because I certainly am. :-) Bob

P.S. While you're at it, you might want to visit www.authentichappiness.org, which I have written about before. While you're there, take some of the happiness tests, especially ones that focus on your SOURCE of happiness.


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