In 3 months I’m about to turn 30. If you trust the latest research results, I am currently in a difficult life phase, the so-called Quarter-Life-Crisis. One-third of all persons aged between 25 and 35 feel depressed, exhausted and look for the meaning of life. I can only tell myself and say it’s true. I am one of the people who are exhausted by a job that does not satisfy us and a life that does not make us happy. I allow myself to be exhausted and put down my work for a time to take time for myself and look for the meaning of life.
The happiness hypothesis
The question which burns us all on the soul can not be circumvented: what is the purpose of my existence and how can I find my happiness? Each of us, who leads a conscious life, one day meets this question. I took the question on the track and discovered an interesting book on the way.
In his book “The Happiness Hypothesis: What Makes Us Happily Happened”, Jonathan Haidt tells us about the experiences surrounding happiness and is focusing on the great thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Nietzsche. The psychology professor examines her thoughts about today’s knowledge of psychology and tells us how much we find again from the historical thinkers in our modern life and what helps us to find our own happiness. He tells us in a playful way of the way to find his own happiness.
I will summarize the ten chapters of happiness hypothesis here and be sure to give you an insight into a work that will surely change your view and attitude in your life.
The shared self
Our thoughts are divided in different ways, but the division, which is really important, is the between a conscious and rational thought process (rider) and an unconscious and emotional process (elephant). The inability of the rider to control the elephant, that is unconscious and emotions, explains many of the mysteries of our mental life. Especially, the question arises why we are confronted with a weak will. The secret of self-optimization is to train the elephant.
“At times we believe we are struggling with our unconscious, the Es or our animal parts. But in reality we are all that. We are the rider and we are the elephant. Both have their strengths and their special abilities “. (Jonathan Haidt)
Your view of things change
You can see everything from two sides. Each of us has a different view of things and is guided by his feelings.
Why are there optimists and pessimists?
When the stomach feels that we do not feel comfortable, many of the situation out of the way. Others overheard the feeling and face the (unpleasant) situation.
The automatic emotional response to the elephant suffers us as horsemen through our lives. If you really want, you can learn to change these responses by practicing meditation or yoga. Find here my tips for a happy self.
Reciprocity at any price?
Many species have a social life, but between mammals, only we humans are ultrasocial, that is, Only we can live together in very large groups and only we are more motivated than other ways to share with others and help others. Animals remain together in a group to protect themselves from attacks by other animals. The ultrasocial person, in contrast, helps others and shares with them because he feels connected with the others.
Understanding the deep sense of reciprocity can help you solve problems in your social life and protect you in moments when people want to manipulate you.
It is a giving and taking which makes the reciprocity. So if you feel that someone just takes you and you feel worn out or manipulated, take the distance to that person.
The mistakes of others
Part of our ultrasocial life is that we are constantly trying to change the perceptions of people they have from us without us being aware of them. We see the mistakes of others quickly, but are themselves unable to see our own.
Hypocrisy is part of human morality and attracts conflicts.
How nice it would be to take off the moral glasses and see the world just as it really is! We learn to understand ourselves better and see how others really see us.
The pursuit of happiness
We often hear that happiness comes from within and you can not find it in external things. For a while, psychologists also believed. Today we know through studies that external circumstances lead to a happy life. This does not mean that you should now fall as fast as possible into the next purchase noise. Often, the objects themselves do not make themselves happy, but they are the experiences we associate with the purchase.
Find out for yourself how to lift your sense of happiness and consciously spend your money on things you really need.
Love and other ties
There are many different types of love, but all have one thing in common. Love, no matter what kind, always makes sense when you see where it comes from and what it is doing. Understanding the different ways can help us explain why people in love make so many mistakes. It also explains why philosophers do not like love and therefore can not give us the right advice.
“And no one can live happy, who only sees himself, who turns everything to his own benefit: for the other you have to live if you want to live for yourself.” (Seneca)
Of the benefit of adversity
Nietzsche said, “What does not kill us makes us stronger.”
This is true unless you are suffering from a posttraumatic stress syndrome. The chapter explains how and why some people grow up when they suffer and what they can do to find their way out of the posttraumatic stress.
Virtue as a way to happiness?
In the Western world, we have lost the ability to grow our values on neutral ground. We have limited ourselves and our values to simply being nice to one another. Thus friendliness, solidarity, tolerance and honesty help us to be balanced with ourselves and others. But where is there room for the other values like courage and honor?
What are our values, where are we wrong and how can we shape a common morality in the so complex society? All of this Haidt goes to the bottom of his book.
Transcendence – with or without God
The perception of divinity is the basis of our human thinking. Disgust, morality and awe tell us more about it, but few listen to these feelings.
The religious can only be understood if you see the extent that many secular thinkers do not understand. Understanding the extent is crucial to the importance of life.
Jonathan Haidt lives as an atheist and is convinced that we can experience inner happiness and health even without an external God.
Happiness comes from “in between”
What is the meaning of life? This question can not be answered so, but with a slight sentence change we can do it. Part of the answer is to engage people and projects and find a state of their own commitment.
The other part is to arrive at a cross-border connection with yourself and your life. So we can find meaning and happiness without religion, but we must understand our nature before we can find an effective substitute for religion.
So the question is not what the meaning of life is, but what we experience in life and what the meaning behind it is.
Find the balance
Yin and Yang represent the principle of equilibrium. In all aspects of our lives we can apply it, and I have even found it in nutritional science. So there are foods that give our bodies cold or heat and balance our bodies.
The historical idea of Yin and Yang also turns out to be the wisest in life. We need the perspective of historical religion and modern science, whether East or West or liberal or conservative. Words come from all directions about us, but we can only be wise by listening to what we learn from different sources.
It is not only the inner being that makes us happier. Also the external circumstances count. Where do you stand, where do you move and – above all – why? For what reason do you go your way and how do you feel about it?
Jonathan Haidt gives you hints on how to find answers to your questions. You will see yourself and your environment with different eyes. It is worth it!
You can find the book on Amazon here.