Sunday, February 25, 2007

The pursuit of happiness...

From the august pages of Scientific American
Imagine you have a choice between earning $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000 or earning $100,000 a year while other people get $250,000. Prices of goods and services are the same. Which would you prefer? Surprisingly, studies show that the majority of people select the first option. As H. L. Mencken is said to have quipped, "A wealthy man is one who earns $100 a year more than his wife's sister's husband."

I make no secret of the fact that in the past twenty years I have halved my income, increased my life-span by at least fifteen years if the rather dire prognostications of my witch-doctor had come to pass. More importantly, I now have a lifestyle that I really enjoy.

I am happy with my life and the most important factor in making that change was nothing to do with what everyone else was doing but in deciding what it was that I really needed

So this really does ring my bell -
Happiness is better equated with satisfaction than pleasure, says Emory University psychiatrist Gregory Berns in Satisfaction (Henry Holt, 2005), because the pursuit of pleasure lands us on a never-ending hedonic treadmill that paradoxically leads to misery. "Satisfaction is an emotion that captures the uniquely human need to impart meaning to one's activities," Berns concludes. "While you might find pleasure by happenstance--winning the lottery, possessing the genes for a sunny temperament, or having the luck not to live in poverty--satisfaction can arise only by the conscious decision to do something. And this makes all the difference in the world, because it is only your own actions for which you may take responsibility and credit."

That has nothing to do with money.

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