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Written by Luke Iorio
Previously published on One Idea Away | July 5, 2019

This is the second article of a two-part series.  

In the first article, we took a tongue-in-cheek—but perhaps a little “too close to home”—look at five behaviors that drive our unhappiness.

Now it’s time to pivot. The most important aspect of those five behaviors of unhappiness is simply awareness. Awareness is where all change begins; and the deeper the awareness, the more substantial and sustainable the change.

When I first looked at the “happiness movement,” I’ll admit I was skeptical and even a bit dismissive thinking to myself, “Do we really need psychology and philosophy to promote people being more focused on their own gratification?”  

That was simply wrong. A completely erroneous assumption on my part as to what happiness — as positive psychology and even Aristotle discuss — is all about.

First, I’d like to share three quick learnings about happiness studies, and then we’ll get to the habits:

  • Happiness does not just refer to the emotional state but describes the whole idea of how we flourish in our lives and live well.
  • Tal Ben Shahar, the professor presently behind Harvard’s wildly popular Positive Psychology program and author of Happier, defines happiness “as the overall experience of pleasure and meaning. A happy person enjoys positive emotions while perceiving her life as purposeful. The definition doesn’t pertain to a single moment, but to a generalized aggregate of one’s experiences: a person can endure emotional pain at times and still be happy overall.”
  • In a nutshell, happiness is the combination of both enjoyment AND meaning.  Aristotle, who devoted significant time to the consideration of what happiness is, wrote that happiness is more a behavior or activity than it’s a result or only an emotion. Various researchers in positive psychology continue to prove this premise in thousands of studies over the past decade.

And now, onto the habits to build up happiness . . .

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