Happiness and Increasing Happiness

July 5th, 2024 (about 11 hours ago) • 8 minutes

definition

  • happiness involved other similar things like joy, gratitude and meaning
  • general conditions of happiness based on literature: get good sleep, have meaningful social connections, pursue meaning, don’t focus on the pursuit of money
  • it's a brain state and state of mind and body

facts

  • sleep and on lights

    • critical value of getting regular bright light, ideally sunlight in your eyes within the first hour of waking.
      • for 5 to 20 minutes
      • flip side -> to avoid bright artificial light exposure between 10pm and 4am. Dim screens as much as possible.
      • bright light between 10pm and 4am increase dopaminergic -> enhance depression -> lower mood and affect
    • most people are using rather dim artificial lighting indoors during the day and then very bright artificial lighting indoors in the evening and at night, you want to do the reverse.
    • (mine) probably good idea to use gray scale mode definitely in the evening
    • don't try to get sunlight through windows, it doesn't work. You need to be outside.
  • low dopamine (e.g drug withdrawal effects) == low mood == less happy

    • serotonin is exhibit calmness so low levels is bad
  • harvard happiness project

    • total amount of income that an individual makes or has does not seem to directly relate to their level of happiness
    • once people get past a certain level of income relative to their cost of living, the amount of happiness does not scale with that income
    • while money truly cannot buy happiness, it absolutely can buffer stress
      • health care, education, housing, food, transportation, and other basic needs
  • peer group has a tremendous influence on whether or not we gauge the amount of money that we have as bringing us happiness or not

    • you want to be able to access the kinds of social interactions that you deem are correct for you at that stage of life
    • social isolation severely impact happiness
  • people normally disassociate work with happiness

    • but that's because that work is not meaningful to them
    • people do unpaid voluntary work for a reason
  • u shape bend

    u shape bend

    • (mine) we have the most energy and least responsibilities in the 20s so do everything you want
  • children == joy?

    • studies show people opting to not have children are happier
    • but that's mostly because they have more sleep and more time to exercise
    • this by no means is a reason to not have children - I still find young babies delightful and fun
  • people tend to report feeling lower levels of happiness, believe it or not, on their birthday - mostly in the mid 20s

    • reason: typically we go through our year not comparing ourselves to our peers terribly much, but birthday marks a checkpoint
    • benchmark or a window into the things that they have not accomplished, the things that, despite being age blank, they still haven't accomplished
    • most of the time, people are bad in reflecting on where we are in our life arc.
  • people who suffer from alcoholism or what's sometimes called alcohol use disorder, that is strongly anticorrelated with happiness

    • smoking and alcohol in excess is detrimental already to health
    • more effect on the spouse than the person themselves
  • natural happiness

    • happiness that we expect to have if we, for instance, complete a degree, hopefully a degree in a topic meaningful and interesting to us
    • finding a mate
    • making a certain income
    • these are taught and implied by society
  • synthesized happiness

    • what we make from things we didn't get or got
    • grounded very thoroughly in the neurobiology of dopamine rewards
    • our anticipation of something positive oftentimes leads to greater increases in the sorts of neurochemicals that support a state of happiness and well being than the actual acquisition of the thing that we are trying to obtain
    • The Molecule of More
  • environment matters

    • more so on how you interpret it
    • try and adjust your home environment adjust your work environment so that it is cheerful to you
    • a plant? a dog? a painting?
    • music is complicated because it's in a shared space
    • Huberman uses 40 Hz binaural beat or listening to Glenn Gould while he work or listening to whale song, because it doesn't have any structure that he can follow
  • happiness inventories

    • self created or self directed happiness
    • focusing on things that one is grateful for things that they particularly enjoy
    • somewhat of a gratitude type practice but includes some other features as well that are more focused on the things that bring you meaning and actually engaging in the things that bring you meaning

Levers To Pull For Increased Happiness

  • gratitude

    • receiving gratitude is a more powerful stimulus for the release of neurochemicals and activation of brain areas associated with so called prosocial behaviors and feelings of well being, including happiness
      • it's not just about receiving, it's receiving from somebody that, you know, genuinely wants to give
      • partially our own responsibility to synthesize happiness
      • give more gratitude
      • this is true of giving money, effort, and time so long as the person needs help and it’s not putting you out
  • mindset and behaviors

    • giving resources, certainly in the form of money, but also in the form of effort and time, is immensely beneficial for synthesizing our own happiness
    • the act of giving itself affects both you and the other person
  • focused mind

    • a wandering mind is an unhappy mind by killingsworth and Gilbert
    • the tendency for their mind to wander from an activity predicted lower levels of happiness than if they tended to be focused on the activity they were engaged in
    • people mind tend to wanser to pleasant topic 43%, unpleasant 27%, neutral 31%
    • but people were no happier when thinking about pleasant topics than about their current activity
    • Wendy Suzuki from NYU said a brief 13 minutes of meditation is enough to train your mind to be focused
  • quality social connection

    • social connection can be divided to bins: can be romantic connection, this can be friendship, this can even be coworker or just daily superficial interaction type connections
    • it doesn't have to be about deep talks, it can be about just being in the presence of somebody else
    • 2 forms: presence/eye contact and physical contact
    • increase happiness ⬅️ you need to have quality social connections ⬅️ you need to be present and engage in those social connections ⬅️ And that requires. A viewing of each other's faces ideally
  • pets

    • even just seeing a dog stimulates happiness as much as receiving a gift
  • choices

    • when people have an ongoing set of choices, it leads to reduced levels of happiness
    • when we make a choice, if we are forced to stick to that choice, we tend to be far happier with that choice than if we maintain the option to change our mind
    • focusing on the choices we've made and really investing in those choices as good ones or great ones and really trying to limit our thinking to the choices that we've made once we've made them is perhaps also important to our natural happiness because it's so inextricably entwined with what we think of as a good life