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Photo: Evil Erin

Do you want to be happy? Of course you do. These five ingredients may help you along your quest.

At first I thought this would be an easy topic. Five things that bring me happiness. Simple. But then I started to actually think about it. What makes me happy might not make you happy (and vice versa).

So I asked around the Matador team for what they thought brings them happiness, hoping for at least a couple of unanimous points. The responses were as random and varied as lottery results.

The more common replies were related to friends, family and health. While all of these do bring most people happiness, my concern was with those who preferred being alone and people in poor health.

If I included these things, what does this mean for them? Is it impossible for the loners and the sick to be happy? I don’t think so.

Borrowing a page from Buddhist philosophy

Buddhists recognize that happiness — unfailing happiness — can only be found internally. The goal is to stop trying to change the world around us to bring happiness, but to change our minds.

If we can’t face ourselves and recognize that we are the source of our own happiness, what chance do we have?

Anything external that we chase cannot bring everlasting happiness, only temporary and fleeting happiness; at some point it will let us down.

Many things that we think will bring us happiness — a new car, new house, more friends — usually just cause us more pain and suffering. We’re constantly worried someone’s going to scratch or bump our vehicle, rob our home, or break our hearts and hurt our feelings. A source of true happiness would not be able to cause us any suffering.

To find happiness is a lofty goal and takes a dedication that most of us aren’t willing to give, even though it’s in our own best interests. Instead, we continue to try to shape the world outside us, rather than trying to fix the inside.

Here are five points to ponder as you search for your own happiness:

1. Introspection

Facing your demons…being a victim. ‘Everything is always fucked up for me, nobody understands’. It took me years of not being honest with myself, running from the truth, denying what was in my face, blaming everybody else. ‘She’s nasty, she’s fucked up…look at her, look at them’…but then there was a common denominator: Me. – Liza Jessie Peterson

If we can’t face ourselves and recognize that we are the source of our own happiness, what chance do we have? Happiness is not “out there.” It’s in here. Easy to say, hard to put into practice.

But the first step to solving a problem is to recognize the source of it. Once we admit to ourselves that we — and only we — are responsible for our own happiness, then we can move forward in trying to attain it.

2. Freedom

I do think people could fall into the trap of understanding freedom as ‘I do what I like’. I don’t really think that’s freedom because you’re still bound by your desires. So where is the freedom? Freedom would be…you understand your desires, the compulsion of those desires, the addiction of that, and you are able to transcend that. Otherwise…your passion is determining your behaviour. – Father Lancy Prabhu

Freedom as we know it in the Westernized world is not true freedom. And this “freedom” will not bring us happiness. One need look no further than free-market capitalism. Go on, you’re free to do whatever you want.

Combine this with our society’s way of making us feel inadequate and marketing manipulation by the media (who, ironically, are exercising their freedom), and we find ourselves always wanting. This wanting and the attachment to things we’ve managed to accumulate are the banes to our happiness. We must free ourselves from our own desires to find true happiness.

Freedom and restraint are two sides of one thing. How can there be freedom without restraint? It’s impossible. – Prof Xu Yuangzhong

3. Compassion

Why are we compassionate towards friends and family, but rarely towards strangers? It’s because we share a connection with our family and friends, either through blood or through similar interests.

This desire to be happy is the motivating force behind every single thing that we do from the moment we wake up to the time we fall asleep.

What if we could find a connection with complete strangers? With the rest of humanity? Might it make us more compassionate towards everybody? Because we do share something common: everybody — no exceptions — wants to be happy.

This desire to be happy is the motivating force behind every single thing that we do, from the moment we wake up to the time we fall asleep. So recognizing that the people we see on TV, the people we pass on the street, the people we’ve never seen and never will see — want to be happy. Just like us.

Compassion gained through accepting this will make us better humans, will help us help each other, and will help to make ourselves happy.

4. Generosity

The mind has a very bad habit, which we call self-cherishing. And I call it ‘What about me?’…it’s a bore. And it’s a drag. And nobody wants to hear it. So you can just shut up…and get off of it. And give. That’s all. GIVE. Be here and give. Connect with people…and you’re so busy giving, you don’t have time to think about yourself…um, you’re gonna be a lot happier. – Baghavan Das

This is closely linked to compassion. After gaining compassion comes our willingness to help out others, even complete strangers.

Photo: pattista

5. Contentment

If you substitute ‘content’ for ‘happy’ you’ll probably find that you’re happy. ‘Cause we’ve associated happiness with laughing and smiling…throwing beach balls to your children…and I’ve never been that guy.

So I’ve thought maybe I’m not happy. If you switch it for content…the practice of contentment…’oh god I’m happy. I’m a happy man. Oh, look at me! – Billy Connolly

I would venture to guess that all of us, anyone right now who is reading this article, has everything they need to be happy. So why does continued happiness seem so elusive?

In general, we may say we’re happy. We might even have those moments where we sit back and realize how privileged we are, count our lucky stars, and genuinely feel like we have the world in our palms.

But how long does this last? How long until the next person pisses us off, until we see the next thing we “need,” until the next feelings of anxiousness steal away our happiness? If we can make the wanting stop and be content with what we have, we would find we can be more consistently happy.

Do you think these are the keys to happiness, or are there other important points we missed? Share your thoughts below.

*All quotes used are from 1 Giant Leap‘s documentary What About Me?.

BuddhismCulture + Religion


About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • Sabrina Elfarra

    In a 56 second documentary, a poor, old Indian man shares his views on how to obtain happiness:

    • Carlo Alcos

      “The key to happiness is to choose happiness”. Beautiful. Perhaps a little simplistic, but essentially true.

      Thanks for sharing the link!

      • Pamela

        I must agree. The simple things in life (especially intrinsic values) are what can birth happiness!!!

    • moose

      and last but not least the 6th ingredient!


  • Brandon James

    Touching on introspection, I think it’s important to not just look inside yourself and figure out what causes certain behaviors, but to get rid of the ego that has stained our brains through years of positive and negative experiences. Even positive aspects of the ego can cause unhappiness, say you see yourself as an open, friendly person; this attitude may cause problems in more reserve, individualist societies. So I think controlling the ego, good and bad is the key to happiness.

  • TravMonkey

    Nice article Carlo, I think it is a pretty complex issue. Many factors determine happiness. I’m no expert but I’d say Love, Safety, Esteem along with food, water and the basic neccessities etc would probably all combine to make you have a happy or content life.

    Paul @

    • Carlo Alcos

      Complex yes! For most people happiness is a relative term, but I wonder if there is an absolute, as Buddhism suggests. On the other hand, what is happiness without sorrow? Wouldn’t that just be numbness?

      Good points about safety/basic necessities. I actually intended to originally include that as part of Freedom. I suppose if you don’t even have the basic necessities to live it would be pretty difficult to be happy. I couldn’t imagine someone starving with no hope of getting food/water could be happy. Make peace with death? Sure. But can that equal happiness?

  • Christine Garvin

    Great piece, Carlo. I do have to disagree with you about one part, though. I’m not sure if we can ever make the wanting stop, but rather allow the wanting to pass through us without being taken on a roller-coaster ride in the process. I think we have to be able to watch it without reacting to it, because desire is simply a part of being human.

    • Carlo Alcos

      I don’t know about that Christine. I think we take for granted that it’s part of being human. But is it really? It definitely makes things interesting, but to propagate our species – which is kind of the essence of all living things – is desire necessary?

      Maybe I’m thinking too deeply about it (or not deep enough). The more I think about it, the more circular I get. I guess you need a desire/want to be happy, which is where all this started.

      Philosophers, where are you when we need you? :)

  • Angeliquita

    This is a great article… I’ve recently had a chance to stop & assess my current situations & try to figure out what fulfills me, since life/time changes all previous attitudes on our dreams and goals. My happyness has to start from within before I can direct it out & share it with others. I think it’s something we all try to work on every day of our lives.

  • Michelle

    Great article. I have to remind myself regularly that “stuff” might make me temporarily happy, but in the long run it doesn’t matter.

    Really nice stuff- I enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  • Carlo Alcos

    @Angeliquita You said it right there, working on it every day of our lives. Which kind of contradicts what you said about having the chance to stop and assess. I think that’s the thing, we get so caught up in our daily routines/lives that we don’t assess what we’re doing on an ongoing basis, but only when it’s “convenient” to.

    @Michelle I don’t have so much a hard time about the material stuff, what’s harder for me is to think about people in that light, that they just want what I want. Happiness.

  • Folding Bike

    Great Article…A lot of stuff you already know in your head.

    Living it is the hard part.

    • Carlo Alcos

      Ain’t that the truth.

  • Bryan McNutt

    I believe your idea of happiness is too narrow. Can you really define happiness? The five things on your list are broad enough to apply to many situations and people but to define happiness or even “ingredients” for it in five items seems too simplistic. I like what you have done and I am a firm believer in your quote, “This desire to be happy is the motivating force behind every single thing that we do from the moment we wake up to the time we fall asleep.” I only disagree with the attempt to create a “check list” for happiness.

    • Carlo

      Thanks for the comment Bryan. My intent is to create discussion, so while it might be difficult or impossible to create a checklist, I want to point out that where many of us (westerners) seek happiness – in material things, careers, other people – we can’t find it. I believe that we are responsible for our own happiness and that these 5 things I mentioned play a big part in us finding it.

      I think some of the philosophies of Buddhism come closest to defining happiness and how to go about it. I am no Buddhist myself (there are still some leaps of faith I can’t bring myself to believe in), but in general I am in agreement of what it is to be happy, and why what we are doing with our lives today isn’t working.

      There are definitely some premises you have to buy into first before agreeing with these sentiments.

  • chris

    Thanks Carlo, I have thought a lot about this having had heaps of ups and downs over the last few years, and changing priorities.

    I agree about stuff – mindless consumerism is a disease. For me the simple things in life are what make me happiest – surfing, friends, family, travel, and those incredible introspective experiences where you really feel part of something vast and beautiful.

    I think its a tough one though and pretty subjective between individuals, when you are young you take happiness for granted, its as you get older and have more responsibility that you have to work harder at achieving happiness. Life is tough and can be a complete bitch, but it is also an opportunity to be happy, and that is pretty damn cool.

  • defdac

    I’m happy when I can let my creativity out and create new things and enjoy them. I get unhappy without house, food and sex and without being able to express my creativity and transcend into higher complexity of knowledge and beutifulness.

    Rather simple stuff there driven by low level genetics as old as the universe itself.

    Why is the universe made so that dust collects into planets with weather and moving molecules (dust storms, continental drift, rivers etc) forming more and more intricate structures – or even life itself creating even more complex structures reaching out and connecting other planets?

    Could it be that happiness is encoded into the very matter we are made of?

  • chris

    Sex, that is a biggie. hahah. No sex does not happiness make..

  • Not Billy

    “If you substitute ‘content’ for ‘happy’ you’ll probably find that you’re happy. ‘Cause we’ve associated happiness with laughing and smiling…throwing beach balls to your children…and I’ve never been that guy.”

    That strikes me as kind of sad, because sometimes I am that guy (well, without the beachballs and kids). There are people who have never been that happy?

    • Carlo Alcos

      Sorry, ignore that comment below. I just re-read yours and understand it better.

      I think you mean “there are people who are not the kind of people to throw beach balls to their kids”? You’re just perpetuating the definition of happiness as someone who IS like that, when all he’s saying is you don’t have to be like that to be happy. So yes, there ARE people who have been that happy. It just so happens they don’t throw beach balls to their kids.

      If you watch the documentary, he also talks about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his father, which may help explain that comment too. It’s strange actually, considering he’s spent much of his life making other people laugh.

  • Carlo

    I don’t think he’s saying that people who throw beach balls to their kids are NOT happy. He’s just saying that, as a society, we’ve associated the term happiness with that kind of act. So if you’re not a person who’s like that, who’s always laughing and throwing beach balls (this, of course is a metaphor), it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a happy person.

    He’s basically just redefining, or maybe better, expanding the term happiness.

  • eResumes4Vips

    The problem with ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ goes back to WANT. We all want to be happy, yet most of us don’t Really Know What it Is We Want!

    Once we decide to pursue happiness, then all else becomes less relevant. Your 5 blogpost tips can then begun to become central to our desire for happiness. Bottomline, Be Happy Now! –eResumes4Vips

  • Copywriter

    Happiness is a state of mind.

  • Joanne Vincent

    Excellent article….but don’t you think a person would have had to already found their own internal happiness to truly understand what it means?

    • Carlo

      I suppose to have the “inside scoop” that’s true. In the meantime, we can only postulate.

  • Nate

    Been thinking a lot of this pursuit lately. I personally have a few things that I feel like go into an equation for happiness. Things like: earning + security + freedom + challenge + reward + health + connection to others

    Of course some can be left out, like unhealthy people can of course achieve happiness. But having good health could do wonders for example, by naturally increasing people’s dopamine levels.

    I’ve been thinking about happiness a bit like how one might think about excersise. And I look at the success has. By recommending a daily workout that is very non-routine. People seem to like this form of motivation to workout and not get bored by a routine.

    Could people be happier if they did a task each day that touched on these categories or ingredients somewhat randomly (to avoid boredom for sure)? Simple, non expensive, non herculean tasks like:

    - learning: watch the history channel (or similar, e.g. PBS) for 30 minutes
    - reward: take a walk to an ice cream store and buy yourself something you haven’t had in awhile
    - connection to others: pick a charity online and donate $5. is a good one.

    So, I’m thinking of experimenting a bit with a blog with a daily task like this and see if anyone gets anything out of it. The website in my comment name will keep track of the effort if I go through with it.

    • Carlo

      It’s a good point you make about the physiology of happiness ie – dopamine. Can it be physically impossible to be happy? I would like to think the answer is no. But maybe I’m wrong. Although, if you consider “peace of mind” to be happiness then I think this is very possible. From what I understand about dopamine is that it delivers pleasure, but maybe this isn’t necessary to achieve peace of mind.

      I like the one small thing a day idea. It’s the little things that count, right?

  • Thibault

    Hey Carlo,
    I just wanted to congratulate you for this precious article. I really like the approach.
    And I won’t bother you much more but just let you know, in case you don’t already, that the CEO of has posted your article link on his Twitter. This dude has 1,144,304 followers… Great way to spread this well made article and encourage people’s reflection or entreprise.

    PS: Keep your blog that way. Peace.

    • Carlo

      Thanks for the info, and no I didn’t know that! I’m flattered.

  • Nils Holmlöv

    I think one of the biggest misunderstandings of this age is that “happy” is some sort of zen-like state that you can reach and then retain indefinitely. Think of how horrible a person who is always happy would be – if nothing could make them unhappy, how would that feel to their kids who are devastated after loosing a football game in 2nd grade, or their best friend who’s going through a divorce, et c. And if you find a source of eternal happiness within yourself, what would motivate you to do anything but sit at home all day and enjoy that?

    The thing is to reduce the things in your life that constantly drag you down, whether that’s work or people, drugs or something else. And then to enjoy life – do the things that make you happy, and deal with the challenges life throws at you.

    This isn’t the place to evolve a philosophy, but I think if you search for everlasting happiness, you set yourself up for failure and disappointment.

    • Carlo Alcos

      “Think of how horrible a person who is always happy would be” – I find that statement a bit sad. I think a child who lost a football game in second grade could stand to use someone who is always happy to gain some perspective. What should they have? Someone to console them? To teach them that it’s OK to be upset when they lose? And wouldn’t someone who was happy be more helpful to someone going through a divorce than someone who’s miserable? Or is it misery loves company? (I hardly think that’s productive)

      If people couldn’t stand to be around someone who is always happy, I think that’s more a reflection on those people than it is on the happy person.

      I’m not trying to be preachy with this, I struggle just as much as everyone else, but it’s something worth exploring.

      • Nils Holmlöv

        To me, happiness is a fleeting sensation, a kind of intense high that I feel after I’ve accomplished something or which comes over me when everything is just perfect. When my kids hurt, or if a friend is unhappy, I can’t be on that high.

        If you are talking about a state of perpetual happiness, you’re probably talking about something I use other words for: a feeling of being content, harmonious or just feeling good. And you can certainly empathize with others and still be content or harmonious.

        Sorry if I’m a bit unclear, as you can probably tell English isn’t my native language and I must admit that I’m struggling to find the right words here.


        • Carlo Alcos

          Hi Nils…I guess it always helps to agree on a definition! :)

          I’m definitely not talking about fleeting “happiness”, or euphoric rushes that you might get from temporary things, but more of something that can be counted on to always be there.

          A content feeling is a big part of happiness I think, because if you are content with who you are, what you have etc, then that will bring happiness. What I’m trying to point out is that we’ve been conditioned to constantly chase things that we think will make us happy, only to find out when we achieve them we still aren’t happy. Sure, we’ll get the rush, but then it’s just a matter of time before we’re chasing something else.

  • Mariellen

    Hi Carlo,

    Another thoughtful article … thank you for sharing. It’s inspiring that people are talking about spirituality and happiness.

    Generally speaking, in the west we talk about the “pursuit” of happiness. But non-dualistic philosophies of the east say the “pursuit” is the problem. We are not separate from happiness, contentment, the source of creation, oneness, god, whatever you wan to call it. We just think we are.

    There is nothing to pursue. All that is required is to increase your consciousness / awareness enough to realize the “truth of oneness.” As Joseph Campbell said, “eternity is here, now. If you don’t get it now, you never will.”


  • Pat Mussieux


    I thoroughly enjoyed your perspective on happiness. It’s the topic of my life’s work so I am always ‘happy’ to hear what other people have to say.

    Happiness means many things to many people. I do believe, however, that that is all we (as human beings) really want in life – is to be happy. There are many things that get in the way of that: habits, attitudes, beliefs, expectations, ego, emotion and control, just to name a few LOL. There are ways to increase happiness levels in our lives but I find many people are not prepared to ‘do the work’.

    I’m at the happiest time ever in my life, right now, but I’ve ‘come through the rain’. Perhaps that’s what it takes, to really appreciate what one has and to be happy in the moment.

    Enjoy your travels. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Pat :)

  • David

    If you’re interested in a new approach to boost your happiness based on the latest positive psychology research, check out our iPhone app: Live Happy (there’s also a Free Trial version); it’s based on the work of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” and provides a unique method to create a personalized program to increase your happiness.

    You can also learn more about the iPhone app on our Facebook page.

  • Eileen

    if you are a typical asian especially chinese… we don’t really think about happiness that much.. and do you know why? because we are thankful for what we have. what’s there to be unhappy about? if we have credit card bills, work harder to pay it off.. if we don’t have enough friends, do something useful… if we want to become successful, work towards your goals… this is the upbringing among the typical Asian community. there is no reason why linger on things that are unnecessary when there is a solution in front of us. if you are not happy, find or do things that will make you happy. why do you even need steps or ingredients for it!

    • Jack

      You probably haven’t met any asians that have killed themselves? I have. Just last year. Good friend of the families. She was just so oddly depressed sometimes about life. She had some major back trouble causing her enduring pain didn’t help her situation.

      What about this guy in China that lost an iPhone and killed himself?

      To a degree yes, people like to complain and whine instead of taking action. But come on, bend a little to the other direction and have some sympathy for even your fellow asians who are struggling to find or discover their own happiness, and can’t solve it with just hard work.

  • Wendell


    Is it really Joy in life, that we want, rather than Happiness?
    Could Happiness be more temporary because it is usually based on external circumstances. Joy is lasting. So, maybe we should address the question; How do we obtain true lasting Joy in our lives?

    • Carlo Alcos

      Hi Wendell,

      I think we’re getting into semantics now. For argument’s sake this is Wikipedia’s definition of happiness: “Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy”, which is essentially how I’ve used the term in this article.

  • Wendell

    Hi Carlo,

    Not sure what to think about this.. was written by GBS

    “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.”- George Bernard Shaw

    Happiness is what people all over the world strive for, A small number ever find it.

  • Ryan

    Great article. I read something similar that dug a little deeper into the idea of suffering. We all struggle sometimes and part of the introspection Carlo talks about should aim at finding out what causes the suffering in our lives. Once we’ve identified those issues, we need to find out how to prevent them from happening again. Sounds simple when I put it like that but that’s just not the case.

    The idea of compassion is also fascinating. I think that many of the readers here are travelers and one of the best ways to find a connection with strangers and opposites of ourselves is to experience different cultures and realize that it’s true–we all want to be happy. Once we believe this, we can try to work together and put an end to both our own, as well as others’ suffering and strive for happiness.

  • Renee

    We express compassion towards our friends because we have a reciprocal relationship with them; we express compassion towards our family because we share genes. We don’t help strangers because it doesn’t help us.

  • Wendell

    I found this quote and think it has a lot of truth, I am always Blessed, when I give to others who are in need.

    “Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Norman MacEwan

    • Carlo Alcos

      Thanks so much for that quote Wendell. I totally agree, in theory. Sometimes it’s so hard to shake the connection between having and happiness. I think we find we are much happier when are sharing though.

  • Carlo Alcos

    I recently interviewed Jamie Catto, one of the filmmakers of What About Me? where all of these quotes come from, and the movie that was the inspiration behind this post. If you haven’t checked out the interview yet, please do. It’s here:

  • Tashi

    The most important thing is to take account of our own karma..the law of cause and effect which actually comes from Buddhism. Karma should be the guiding principle for all our actions; Good begets good and bad begets bad. Other components of happiness will naturally flow out of this principle. Overall a great piece!

  • Leti

    Amazing article Carlo. Many people should read it!!! THANKS from Argentina.

  • easy guitar songs

    Great article. The thing with people is if you ask the average guy on the street “would you rather be happy or rich?” he would say rich! Then you ask him why he wants to be rich. “So I will be happy”. I think this craziness is all down to past conditioning.

  • hansel

    showing compassion to perfect strangers Does help us !. its a fact….. It makes us happier. and it trains our minds to be more positive peoplee

  • Tashi

    Carlos happiness framework is similar to that of the six paramita or perfection which is the key teaching of Buddhism..generosity, ethics, patience, meditation, perseverance and wisdom are the six key Buddhist principle that lead to genuine happines.. this is said to bring long lasting happiness

  • Andreas

    Well music makes me happy, and playing music with my friends

  • Paul K

    Eh? None the wiser. Is there any evidence this advice works, besides you thinking it should?

  • Constantine Donchev

    In my oppinion only a person can make another person truly happy. As you all know people are social “animals”, they are not meant to be alone. In the world we live in everything exists in pairs… even flowers need eachother to bloom, people have two arms, two legs, two eyes… given by the nature maybe as a hint to search and find the missing piece which will make us complete. That piece is another human and love is the “glue” that binds the whole thing together. Only then the wanting could stop and the true desire for giving and sharing can start. (of course you can give and share before that but the feeling is just not the same) I think that feeling complete is what could bring happiness. If this is the only life we live, we have to live it to the fullest, we have to take as much as possible out from it. What would help to do that is to live two lives at the same time. And it’s not as hard as it sounds. Having a person next to you whose pains and pleasures you can share, means you are doing just that – co-living his/her life… making eachother complete… enjoying the life the way it’s meant to be enjoyed – by pairs.

    • Carlo Alcos

      I think it’s dangerous to rely on anyone else for our own happiness, or to fill a “void” in ourselves. We can certainly share love with other people and I agree that the social aspect is pretty important in our mental well-being (for the most part). I like this quote, from the same movie:

      “It’s not trying to get something from someone, but it is participating in a wider field together. It’s like two fish. They have a relationship with each other because of the ocean. Now, they can’t get water from each other, but they can swim in it together. Individuals can’t really get love from each other. That’s the myth; that’s the fiction; that’s the appearance. But they can swim in it together.”

  • BeckyMinx

    good article for sure…im 25 and I am just now looking at my life in a new way asking myself do I really need so many things to be happy? maybe that’s what growing up is all about :D

    • Carlo Alcos

      A lot of “grown ups” don’t ask themselves that question. It takes courage to question your own lifestyle, especially when you’re comfortable.

  • chris bartlett

    Here are my ingredients for success, joy, fulfillment, and attainment of potential:
    Hope you all explore your own recipe for an amazing life!!! CB

  • cameron helmer

    I just took a positive psychology class at the the local junior college and it was all based on a happiness class taught by ben shahar at harvard. He has a book out called “happier” which is the groundwork for the class he teaches.

    Ben puts out that we all have an average happiness level, and sure materialistic things like money and jobs may temporarily increase that level but it will always dip back down. They did a study with lotto winners who won these great sums of money but you become accustom to the materials.

    So in order to create a happier life, like you have said carlos, it has to be internal. There are a number of different exercises from this class that i have played with to be able to raise the overall level of happiness. the one i resignated the most with was meditation and the study of neuroplasticity.

    They took a couple monks and looked at their brain activity while meditating on happy thoughts. The action in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with happy people, was tremendously higher than those with a small or no meditation practice. Neuroplasticity is showing that we have the ability to change the wiring of our brains through meditation. Which is all a relatively new breakthrough.

    • Carlo Alcos

      Thanks for the comment Cameron. I’ve read and heard the same thing about “average” happiness levels…and that we tend to return to them no matter what happens to us, whether it’s winning the lottery or becoming physically handicapped.

      Are you familiar with Dan Gilbert’s work? Check out this TED talk:

  • suslopes

    Number one ingredient for happiness is God! All those other things will follow we will have introspection, freedom of wants and desires, compassion, generosity, and contentment…when it comes to #2 “freedom” was that an attack on the free market and capitalism?? It sounded that way to me…maybe on a subconscious level. I think you were talking more of freedom of attachments right?

    • Carlo Alcos

      Yes, I was speaking of Freedom of attachments and desires. I was using free-market capitalism (the way it’s working now) as an example of where “freedom” doesn’t work. Many people have the idea that freedom means “I am free to do whatever I want”, but sometimes expressing our individual freedom impinges on another person’s freedom. Thanks for the comment.

  • Diana

    Forgive yourself, forgive everybody in your life and aloud to be forgiven…..Love yourself, love everybody and aloud to be loved……Give and learn how to Receive!…..Believe!…..Control your mind!… Free your heart!….

  • Luke Kingma

    Have you read Eric Weiner’s “The Geography of Bliss?” Takes a little while to get into, but he basically travels the world, visiting the happiest (and unhappiest) countries trying to figure out a formula for happiness. Almost every country had a different one, which raises a lot of interesting questions. Check it out:

    Great article!

    • Carlo Alcos

      Hi Luke, I have indeed read that book. I liked it. A really interesting read that is also somewhat related is Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert (in fact, a few comments up I posted a link to one of his TED talks). Thanks for the comment!

  • Lena Teegal

    I often think of things in the past that I regret or make me feel somewhat uncomfortable, I found that through the years those things would come again and again. I finally started forgiving myself for those things and they never came back since. 

    Also those socks in the picture are rockin’!

  • sofiqul hasan

    This article is also interesting and informative,thanks for your sharing. I will add this blog with my twitter friends.
    quotes about happiness

  • Kelibremner

    I want to share with you a problem I had, I found it hard to talk to people and I would shy away, mostly because of judgments I was making in my head, then one day I thought to myself I need to get over this, and when I saw the man infront of me as a family member, I couldnt help but feel compassion for this other person and see him as someone like me just wanting to be part of the bigger picture, now I see myself as part of a world size family, and I cant help but be touched to be part of it all.

  • Emma

    Interestingly enough, all of these things to me add up to someone with a strong belief in their religion, particularly a form of religion which promotes compassion to others. The first point especially, that external things will let you down and the happiness they provide is fleeting. 

    The religious aspects make sense, I suppose, since the article was based on Buddhist beliefs.

  • Rizz Adam

    This is for you @Ryan Lee.

    • Peter Uren

      Great article @[708847685:2048:Rizz Adam]. Spooky that I thought of the same person you did too.

  • Safiya Badgurl

    Nice article…

    • Aadil Ghasitah

      really nice article :D

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