Why We’re Wrong About Happiness


Would you rather win the lottery or become
a paraplegic? Now it seems very obvious that the day after, you’d much rather have won
the lottery. But they’ve done studies of both of these groups–the lottery winners and people
who have become paraplegics. And what they find is after one year, they both rate their
lives as the same amount of HAPPY. Now, this is called the “impact bias.” The
fact that we think, obviously, the lottery winners can be much happier, is due to our
tendency to overrate both the intensity and the duration of the happiness that we’ll experience
when we get what we want. Now this wouldn’t be a big problem if we’re just a _ of lottery
winners, but it’s all of us, right? I’m sure you’ve had the experience. Maybe
you went out for a job or got a promotion that you were desperate for. And when you
finally got it, you spent a few weeks really happy with it, and then, it was just every
day drudgery, right? It stunk. Or there was a product that you needed, it
was the iPhone, a car, a new watch. And for the first couple of weeks, yes, every single
time you touched it, you felt good. But then, after a while, it just started to blend in
with the rest of the things in your life. This is very common. The things that we pursue
take a lot of time and energy, but the happiness that we get out of them is miniscule. Now
this is a trap that I want to help you avoid. I spent, literally, years studying happiness,
the people who have it, the people who don’t, and then applying those lessons to my own
life, to see which actually work from experience. And what I can tell you from my own experience
is that there’s this thing called The Happiness Ladder. And there’s five rungs to it. If you
focus on the bottom rungs of this ladder, you’re almost guaranteed to not find happiness
no matter how successful you are at getting the things you pursue. When you focus on the upper rungs of the ladder,
you’re almost guaranteed to find happiness that lasts. So, what I want to do is, hopefully,
in this video, help you skip ahead to those higher levels, so that you don’t get stuck
with the things that are basically guaranteed to make you live a miserable life. So the first thing is this, the bottom of
the rung, that we all tend to start with when we’re younger is “stuff.” When I was little,
I wanted the right Power Ranger. Then when I got the right Power Ranger, I wanted the new
video game, and after the video games, it was the car, and on and on and on. And the truth is, stuff is nice. These things
made me happy. But none of them, no matter how many video games or Power Rangers I had,
led to any sort of lasting happiness. And that’s true of all stuff. Stuff is nice, it’s
necessary, but it cannot create lasting happiness. And the problem with stuff is that it’s very,
very easily corrupted. There’s so much advertising, we oftentimes will buy stuff to brand ourselves.
And this is where we’re almost guaranteed unhappiness. This is like negative one on this ladder.
If you’re buying things like expensive brand in clothes, jewelry, cars, electronics, whatever,
for the sole purpose of being perceived in a certain way by your peers, then you are
in trouble. Because, then, your happiness is dependent on the opinion of other people,
and that is always a precarious position to be in that will lead to unhappiness. So, as quickly as we can, most of us realized
that we need to get out of stuff if we want to be happy. We need to move to the next level.
And the next level for many of us is “experience,” right? So, all of a sudden, rather than spending
our time to accumulate things, we want to just, we want to see the world, and I see
experience gone wrong most often in people who are first time backpackers. They want
to travel but they don’t want to do anything deeply. They want to go for 30 days and see
25 different cities, right? They want to see every monument, take every picture, eat a
local dish once, and then, get back on the airplane as soon as they can, so that they
can tell their friends all about it. The experience, again, just becomes a proxy
for the thing. It’s about branding yourself. This is when experience goes wrong. Experiences
can be amazing, just like stuff. I love escape rooms. I don’t take pictures of all of them. I do
them for me and to spend time with my friends. If you had to do it, do an escape room, they’re
amazing. But, if you are focused on the experience simply for the Instagram photo, that’s a problem. Not long ago, I went on a hike with a friend
of mine, and it was a 45-minute hike, and all the way up, she complained. It was the
heat, it was everything was wrong with this hike; we didn’t have enough water, the time
of day. We finally get to the top and then for three minutes, she was all smiles when
the camera came out. She took a yoga pose, it’s this pose, it’s that pose, different
combinations of people; probably 60 different pictures and then posted a couple of them,
and felt good about those pictures. If that reminds you of your self or anyone
you know, you’re spending your life for the photo that you get or the story that you get,
cut it out. You are guaranteed to be unhappy, because you are going to spend 45 minutes
feeling miserable, and then, three happy, and then, finally living vicariously through
the likes that you get on social media. That cannot lead to happiness. After experience, we tend to move up to the
next level, and I see a lot of people here. This is where I spend a lot of time myself.
It’s great–GROWTH. So, I first, the first time I went abroad was when I was in college,
and I did exactly what I said. I went to Spain and took all of my student loan money and
I travelled like crazy. In three months, I saw six different countries,
went to a ton of different cities, got tons of pictures, saw wonders of the world. It
was really cool. When I got back, I couldn’t speak Spanish. I didn’t really know anything
about the culture, and I had not made a single Spanish friend. So after that, I said, “You know what? I’m
gonna do something differently.” This time I’m going to Costa Rica. It’s a way less exciting
Standing Program in a small town. It’s not even on the beach and I’m going to enroll directly
into the local university. Now, I don’t have as many pictures. I didn’t
see any wonders of the world. I didn’t leave the country in the 10 months that I was there.
But while I did that, I learned Spanish, I learned to dance salsa, and I made local friends.
And I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. And even more than that, the person that I
became, the fact that I can now enjoy going out salsa dancing, years later, I can communicate
with someone in Spanish. That impacts my life often. Growth is the first rung that I think
leads to lasting, on-going happiness. But it’s not the end all, be all, because I got
kind of obsessed with this for a time. Self-improvement can be addictive. If you’re
on this channel, maybe you’ve gone through all of our videos here, like “I got to get
better. I got to get better.” I know that feeling, but I’ve had days where they were
perfect on a self-improvement standpoint. I spent no time doing TV, no time on the bad
things, and like 10, 12 hours solid practicing music, language skills, building my business,
going to the gym, all good things for me. But I still felt a little bit empty at the
end of the day. And what I realized is that every single day that I have needs to have
some form of connection or contribution. Here’s the fourth rung, and I think that this
is where people really, really want. The whole thing with the branding and the status, a
lot of that is really just a stepping stone for what we truly desire, which is to connect
with other people. But we don’t think we’re enough, so we think if we have these clothes,
then we’ll be enough. If we have interesting stories, then we’ll be enough. Or in my case,
if I am a cool enough, well-rounded enough person, with all of these how be’s and activities
that I’m good at, I will be enough to connect. And what I’m here to tell you is that you
can shortcut that. You can connect. You can contribute today. Your time, your attention,
your praise, your focus, that can be enough for some people, right? To make friendships,
that is plenty. Now continue to grow. Continue to accumulate some things, to have those experiences.
Those are all important. What we oftentimes forget is that it’s all
really to share with other people. This thing that I’m telling you. This happiness ladder
comes from something that I wrote in 2013, and it sat sitting on my computer hard drive
for all this time. It’s only now that I get to share it, and yes, it was nice to learn
from my self, and it was nice to apply it to my own life, but I’m sure that the comments
below, the fact that I get to share this with you is gonna bring me so much more lasting
joy now that I get to share it. So find a way to contribute, to connect, and
realize that everything that you do in the intermedium, oftentimes is for that as well.
I get that there are solitary people, but the truth is we do need some form of giving
back to our community. Even if it’s to the environment, and not to humans, if it’s to
animals, we need to connect in some way. So focus there. But like I said, there’s five rungs, and all
the first four are focused outwardly. The way you orient yourself, where do you place
your action? The fifth one is about mindset. And the mindset shift is to APPRECIATION,
because the truth is, oftentimes, everything that we’re trying to get were focused on what
we don’t have, and if you can shift your mindset simply from not focusing on what I lack or
what I have, and shift it from, not focusing on the bottom of that ladder–with the stuff–but
to the connection and the growth, that is the shift that will lead to the most lasting
happiness. We have access to this at all times of our
life. Even in the annoying moments, we’re standing in line and it’s 20 minutes to get
out of the food store, you can focus on the fact that you’re 20 minutes late. What you
don’t have is your time. Or you can focus on the fact that you have food surrounding
you from all parts of the world and you live, literally, better than kings did 100 years
ago, because they couldn’t get grapes, right? They’re on the other side of the planet. So, depending on what you compare yourself
to, if you’re alive today, if you’re watching YouTube, if you’re on the internet, you literally
live better than kings did not very long ago. You are in the 0.1% of lucky people who have
ever lived. So no matter what’s going on in your life,
I know that there will be things that knock you down, things that suck, reasons to be
unhappy. But there’s always a reason to bounce back if you shift your focus to what you have
compared to what you don’t. So, I hope you find that helpful. I hope that
you can focus on what you appreciate. If you take one thing from this right now, write
down or say in your head, one thing that is common to your life that is little, that maybe
you don’t notice all the time, that you appreciate right now. And I think that will make you
have a much better day, and if you can keep it up, that habit will give you a much happier
life. So I hope that you’ve enjoyed this video.
If you’ve liked it, go ahead and subscribe to the channel. This one actually doesn’t
come, this thing on happiness, doesn’t come from suggestions in the Comments. This one
is something that I said I had sitting on my hard drive for years and years and years,
and want to share with you guys, but if you have any comments as well, please let me know.
Those are the things that, honestly, form most of the videos that I make; those on the
Game of Thrones, those of the– I also saw recently, I should say it, but I’m thinking
of doing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Carrey Charisma Breakdowns based on what I’ve seen. So, any comments, suggestions, write them
in there, please subscribe to the channel for more stuff like this, Charisma Breakdowns,
and as always, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next video.

Daniel Yohans

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