Happiness Workshop I: What Happiness Is and What' Happiness Isn't


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Thomas Jefferson was right about a whole lot of things. But the his notion of the "pursuit of happiness" might just be bringing us down the wrong path. What is this elusive happiness that we are so busing pursuing? This presentation explores that happiness is and what happiness isn\'t. Hint: It isn\'t a thing to be pursued.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Technology

Happiness Workshop I: What Happiness Is and What' Happiness Isn't

  1. 1. The Happiness Project Workshop I: What Happiness IS and IS’NT
  2. 2. How People Have Reacted to the Idea of the Happiness Workshops <ul><li>Teeming with sarcasm, </li></ul><ul><li>Mike was asked: </li></ul><ul><li>What makes YOU think you’re </li></ul><ul><li>qualified to lead a workshop on happiness? </li></ul>
  3. 3. She had a point… Dispositionally Happy (Alicia) Not Dispositionally Happy (Mike)
  4. 4. But … <ul><li>Happiness is not about smiling all the time. </li></ul>It isn’t just a feeling . It has more to do with developing a Sense of Satisfaction with One’s Life .
  5. 5. <ul><li>Satisfaction with our lives is attainable even if we are not “happy by nature”. </li></ul><ul><li>(But it takes discipline…) </li></ul>
  6. 6. More Reactions… <ul><li>We suggested that happiness involves the question of how to live a meaningful life … </li></ul>
  7. 7. When Julie Anderson heard this, she said: <ul><li>At the workshop, maybe you should just </li></ul><ul><li>serve food and couple everyone up ! </li></ul>
  8. 8. While that might be interesting… <ul><li>The pursuit of base pleasures leaves life rather empty and vacant. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>So What and Where is this Elusive Happiness? </li></ul>
  10. 10. I. The Pursuit of Happiness or The Happiness of Pursuit?
  11. 11. The Pursuit of Happiness <ul><li>“ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” </li></ul><ul><li>The Declaration of Independence </li></ul><ul><li>-- Thomas Jefferson </li></ul>
  12. 12. What are we Pursuing when We Pursue Happiness? <ul><li>It is not simply pursuing “ pleasure ”. </li></ul><ul><li>If pleasure were our main desire, why not simply “ eat and couple up ”? </li></ul><ul><li>Well, let’s try this little exercise…. </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Which is More Important to You? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(You can only have one) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feeling good all the time. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great food and drink. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bodily satisfactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>B </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working a hard life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to care for your children </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. You would choose “B” which shows: There are things in life much more important than pleasure.
  15. 15. If not Pleasure, then what are we after? <ul><li>Stuff? </li></ul>Do “external events” make us happy? Money? Status?
  16. 16. Happiness over Wanted Outcomes <ul><li>We say an event “makes” us feel happy. </li></ul>Great! I wanted that job! You got the job!
  17. 17. But the Joy of Goal Attainment is… <ul><li>short lived… </li></ul><ul><li>gone after novelty wears off </li></ul><ul><li>And Attaining our Goals is… </li></ul><ul><li>Often disappointing </li></ul><ul><li>After I attain my goal, well, then what? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Goal I’ll be happy when I get a good job. a new car… when I get married. when we have a baby. when the kids move out. When I retire.... When I’m dead.
  19. 19. II. So, if not pleasure , stuff , fame , getting what we want (etc.), what is happiness all about? Let’s try another exercise <ul><li>Think of a time when you felt most happy in your life. </li></ul><ul><li>What in your life has produced the longest lasting happiness ? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the difference between the two? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Happiness is both a Process and a Judgment <ul><li>As a process , happiness something that occurs over time. </li></ul><ul><li>As a judgment , happiness involves appreciating our lives in the moment. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Happiness is both a Process and a Judgment <ul><li>Self-Cultivation : The process of working toward becoming a good person . </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation : Appreciating what is good in who you are and what you have right now . </li></ul>
  22. 22. The Happiness Process Everyday Life Cultivating my “best self” 1
  23. 23. The Happiness Process Everyday Life Cultivating my best self 1 2 Reflecting on My Actions
  24. 24. The Happiness Process Everyday Life Cultivating my best self 1 2 (2a) What is good about… this moment? … my actions…my life, etc. (2b) How can I continue to improve? Reflecting & Appreciation
  25. 25. The Happiness Process Everyday Life Cultivating my best self Reflecting & Appreciation
  26. 26. Happiness is about Cultivating and Appreciating The Good Life <ul><li>We are not primarily motivated to seek pleasure or to feel happy in our tummies (even though that is part of the whole…) </li></ul><ul><li>We seek to live a good life. </li></ul><ul><li>We seek to be good people. </li></ul><ul><li>We evaluate our lives accordingly: </li></ul><ul><li>Is my life going the right way? </li></ul><ul><li>What is good in my life? </li></ul>
  27. 27. So, How do I Live a Good Life? <ul><li>No one can tell you, in specific , how to live a good life. However, as a process of discovery, a good life is: </li></ul><ul><li>An examined life in which one constantly attempts to define and re-work the values that inform our actions. </li></ul><ul><li>Living a good life is not a goal that, once attained, makes you happy. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a life-long process which results in a happiness is a continuous and evolving product. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Self-Cultivation <ul><li>Process of continuously reflecting upon, elaborating and putting into practice the values and meanings that guide our actions in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Perfection </li></ul><ul><li>Development of Character </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivation </li></ul>
  29. 29. A Path to Self-Cultivation: The Experience-Reflection Cycle Level of Reflection Level of Experience
  30. 30. The Experience-Reflection Cycle Level of Reflection Roy, you are a real jerk! Now that wasn’t so compassionate. I acted out of anger. He drives me crazy! There he goes bragging again (eye roll). He brags because he always feels threatened. Hmm.. what if I always felt threatened? I get it – he brags because he’s insecure. He has to extort others to recognize his work. Next time I’ll try… There goes Mr. Ego again…uh, maybe just the opposite – Mr. Insecure. Okay, I’ll try something new: “I used some of Roy’s and Jane’s ideas in my project. “ Level of Action & Experience
  31. 31. The Experience-Reflection Cycle Level of Reflection Level of Everyday Experience Control over Action Feedback From Action New Values, Goals & Beliefs New Forms of Self-Understanding and Control over Action
  32. 32. This is Self-Cultivation! <ul><li>In self-cultivation, we consciously attempt to </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on the basis of our actions </li></ul><ul><li>Be self-critical , but also self-affirming. </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciate the good in your actions and self; accept what cannot be changed. </li></ul><ul><li>Revise our values and beliefs (if needed) </li></ul><ul><li>Put our re-examined values into practice </li></ul><ul><li>And continue to the process. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Although Self-Cultivation is a Life-Long Process, Its Effects are Immediate ! <ul><li>With each iteration, we make a “ little step ”. </li></ul><ul><li>With each step, we feel the joy of fulfillment and doing good </li></ul><ul><li>We are able to accept our faults through knowing that our faults do not define us; we are defined by forward movements . </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, we develop in the direction of our values. </li></ul><ul><li>We experience the joy of the process and outcome of doing good. </li></ul><ul><li>We feel “happy” in the sense of feeling good about the moment and course of our lives . </li></ul>
  34. 34. III. So, Maybe we should change The Pursuit of Happiness to The Happiness of Pursuit! No way! I couldn’t have been wrong!
  35. 35. IV. Exercise and Discussion: What Makes for a Meaningful Life? <ul><li>What makes our lives meaningful? Really – not platitudes and bromides – but in specific. </li></ul><ul><li>What makes for a good and meaningful life? What sort of person do I want to be? </li></ul><ul><li>How can I put those goals into practice today . What baby steps can I work toward and see improvement in today? </li></ul>
  36. 36. Homework : <ul><li>Define ONE Area of your Life that You want to Cultivate . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it a very small area. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set a Very Modest Goal in that Area </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(something you can implement easily) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cultivate that Simple Goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take baby steps toward that goal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect on your progress, but count only your successes . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor how you feel about your successes. </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Structure of Remaining Workshops <ul><li>What workshops would you like to see? </li></ul><ul><li>Let us know and we will try to provide… . </li></ul>
  38. 38. Structure of Remaining Workshops <ul><li>Mindset: How our beliefs about ourselves contribute directly to our development and sense of well-being. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivating a Happy Self through Relationships: . … </li></ul><ul><li>Components of a Happy Life : Health (self-care), Love (and relationships), Work (creativity) </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Care: Cultivating Mindfulness, Self-Appreciation and Self-Acceptance </li></ul>
  39. 39. Structure of Remaining Workshops <ul><li>Happiness and Work . Cultivating meaningful work and creative activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Love and Relationships : Cultivating the language of love and compassion. </li></ul><ul><li>I am Part of a Larger Whole . Renouncing “ego” and entering into the web of relations. </li></ul><ul><li>Other possibilities : Managing conflict in relationships; the language of forgiveness; Cultivating character and happiness… </li></ul>