The Truth About Lived Happiness (Hint: it may not come from where you think it does)

May 07, 2020


In her book, The Optimism Bias, psychologist Tali Sharot writes about the disconnect between the things we think will bring us happiness and the things that actually contribute to our experience of lived happiness moment to moment.

It turns out that the big life goals we expect will lead to our happiness, things like career, marriage, and children, do not necessarily bring us very much actual lived happiness. Turns out, raising children doesn’t correlate highly to moment-to-moment satisfaction. (Wink, wink to all the parents reading this.)

Sure, our life goals are worthwhile, our dharma is important, but what her research showed is that lived experiences of happiness come largely from simple things such as expressing kindness to another person, doing an activity you enjoy, giving and receiving love. And, of course, the way we spend our moments become the way we spend our days. And our days eventually add up to, well, our lives.

This feels like good news to me. Because it means that even during these disrupted and irregular times enjoyment is available. As unsettling as our everyday reality might be, there are likely moments where, if we can simply be present to experience them, we can live happiness. And I’m guessing we all might appreciate ways to feel happy right now. 

Today, I invite you to consider the simple, pleasant moments that bring you happiness. The smallest possible things that bring you joy. Things like:

Feeling a warm breeze on your skin
Eating a yummy meal, or preparing one for others
Wishing a friend a happy birthday

Let’s count them up and see what happens, I think we might all be surprised at just how many occasions there are for experiencing happiness in just one day regardless of how our children, our career, or our spouse is doing.​


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