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Distinguishing Wanting from Liking

By Emotions, Moods and Reactions, Happiness

What we want, and what we end up liking when we get it are two different things. They each involve different parts of our brain, and different states of mind.

Understanding this difference and bringing more consciousness to what you think you want can save you a huge amount of time, effort, and money.

This last bit is important, the amount of money we spend on things that we want, but then end up not liking, can be huge. It can make the difference between financial ease or financial stress; a sense of abundance or a sense of desperation. It can make it possible – or impossible – to save and invest.

I’ve had clients who, though they make plenty of money to live very well, end up feeling desperate and on edge financially – because they spend more than they make, buying things they want.

This doesn’t need to happen. It’s a simple enough math problem, easy to solve on paper – just don’t spend more than you make, right? But desire is a powerful motivator, and our emotions can mislead us hard with this one.

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The Virtue of Happiness

By Happiness

(This is from my book, “The Virtue of Happiness”)

Happiness is not a smiley face, and a happy life is not a perfect Facebook profile of blissful moments and beaming selfies building on a continual upward trajectory.

We are biological, not mechanical; our minds are not computers – though some functions of our brains are similar. Our lives are full of rhythms, cycles of expansion and contraction, ebb and flow. Just as a tree will withdraw into itself beginning in the Fall and during the winter, dropping its leaves and growing its roots, then expands out with new buds, blossoms, and fruit in the Spring and summer, our bodies pulse with heartbeats, breaths, and cycles of sleep and wakefulness. We don’t remain in a continual state; and we cannot expect continual, uninterrupted happiness or success.

Our consciousness is organized around stories; including our own personal stories of tragedy and triumph, comedy and creativity, love and loss. We have some say in the nature of the stories with which we identify – to what degree we see ourselves as authors of our stories; to what degree the characters can learn and grow; what possibilities there may be for interesting plot twists – and this is one of the ways we can steer ourselves toward a better life, a better sense of ourselves: We can think of our lives within the context of a better story. Read More

Gratitude: The Antidote to the Hedonic Treadmill

By Happiness

One of the – sometimes – unspoken expectations when we buy something is that it will, to some degree, make us happy.

We buy a new appliance, or a nice piece of furniture for our home, and it satisfies an idea we had that led us to buy it in the first place. Part of that idea is that the new oven, or couch, will make us happy.

We shop for a new piece of clothing, and we expect that we’ll enjoy wearing it.

Even a trip to the grocery store is often accompanied with an expectation that the food we buy will make for a yummy meal that we’ll savor.

We can buy gizmos like smart phones or Apple watches, and we expect they’ll improve, to some extent, the quality of our lives.

And each of these purchases usually does bring us some degree of satisfaction or pleasure… for a little while. Read More