Top Quotes: “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment” — Tal Ben-Shahar
“The source of the word happiness is the Icelandic word happ, which means ‘luck’ or ‘chance,’ the same source as the words haphazard and happenstance.”
“Studies on journaling show that writing about negative as well as positive experiences enhances our levels of mental and physical health.”
“It’s important that in your writing you describe the emotions you experienced then or are experiencing at the moment, the particular behaviors you engaged in (that is, what you did then), and the thoughts you had during the time or are currently having as you write.”
“Meditate! Find a quiet spot. Sit down on a chair or the floor with your legs crossed. Make sure you’re comfortable, with your back and neck straight. You can close your eyes or keep them open.
Enter a state of calm by breathing deeply through your nose or mouth, filling up the space of your stomach with each breath, and slowly releasing the air through your nose or mouth.
Mentally scan your body. If any particular part feels tense, direct your breath into that area to relax it. Then, for at least five minutes–or as long as 20–focus on your deep, slow breathing. If you lose your concentration and your mind wanders, simply and gently bring it back to your breathing.
Continuing with the deep breathing, focus on a positive emotion. You may imagine yourself when you were particularly happy, be it when you spent time with someone dear or when you thrived at work. For anywhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes, reexperience the positive emotions and allow them to rise inside you. Especially after doing this exercise regularly, you may not need to imagine a particular event; you’ll have the capacity simply to bring up positive emotions by thinking of the words happiness, calm, or joy.
Make meditation a ritual. Set aside between 10 minutes and an hour each day for meditation–in the morning when you wake up, during your lunch hour, or sometime in the afternoon. After meditating regularly, you may be able to enjoy some of the benefits of meditation in a minute or two. Whenever you feel stressed or upset or when you simply want to enjoy a moment of calm or joy, you can take a few deep breaths and experience a surge of positive emotions. Ideally, you should do this in a quiet spot, but you can also do it while riding the train, sitting in the backseat of a taxi, or at your desk.”
“The emphasis in my approach isn’t so much on attaining goals as it is on having them. Psychological David Watson underscores the value of the journey: ‘Contemporary researchers emphasize that it’s the process of striving after goals–rather than goal attainment per se–that’s crucial for happiness and positive affectivity.’ The primary purpose of having a goal–a future purpose–is to enhance enjoyment of the present.
Goals are means, not just ends. For sustained happiness we need to change the expectations we have of our goals: rather than perceiving them as ends (expecting that their attainment will make us happy), we need to see them as means (recognizing that they can enhance the pleasure we take in the journey). When goals facilitate the enjoyment of our present experience, they indirectly lead to an increase in our levels of well-being each step of the way, as opposed to a temporary spike that comes with the attainment of a goal. A goal enables us to experience a sense of being while doing.”
“My philosophy teacher gave me some advice when I graduated from college and wasn’t sure where I wanted to go: ‘Life is short. In choosing a path make sure you first identify those things that you can do. Out of those, select the ones that you want to do. Then, reduce your choice further by zooming in on what you really want to do. Finally, select those things that you really, really want to do–and then do them.’”
“When parents ‘help’ their children circumvent hard work, it can lead to much unhappiness in the long run: ‘It’s doubtful whether any heavier curse could be imposed on man than the complete gratification of all his wishes without effort on his part, leaving nothing for his hopes, desires, and struggles.’ When challenged, children, like adults, will find meaning in their accomplishments and enjoy the process of attaining their goals.
The underprivilege of privilege can explain, to some extent, why in this culture of relative plenty levels of depression are on the rise and why depression is hitting at a younger age than ever before. Life, for many young people, has quite literally been too easy.”