One of the main mistakes that people commit is that they try to follow happiness. What is required is to prioritize happiness. This is what people don’t realize quite often
Let us go through the findings shown in the paper Happiness in the Workplace: Employees who focus on Maximizing Happiness Become Happier by Kelly Goldsmith, David Gal, Raj Raghunathan and Lauren Cheatham. They had conducted a study on ‘happiness in workplace’. In their research, a set of people in a company were sent mails asking them to make happiness enhancing decisions for a week. Another set of people were not sent any such email. It was found that the set of people that received the mails was far happier after a week than the others who did not receive any such mail.
It is important and necessary to remind oneself constantly to make happiness enhancing decisions, but not monitor it all the time. Monitoring actively is equivalent to chasing happiness. This reduces happiness levels. The reason is that when we pursue happiness too intently, we begin to compare our happiness levels with our dream happiness levels. That makes us unhappy and makes us less productive. One should not keep monitoring happiness all the time but must remind oneself to make happiness enhancing decisions.
Analogy with sleep
It is equivalent to getting into sleep. If one keeps on reminding oneself about sleeping during night time, it become almost impossible to get a good sleep. Or if someone is diabetic and is faced by a bowl of sweets, it is very likely that the diabetic person will feel more and more tempted to eat a sweet, which is forbidden for him, if he keeps on monitoring his gaze towards and away from the sweet. The more important and better way to address this issue is to follow a proper routine or lifestyle. If not eating sweets or going to sleep at a particular time becomes a part of the lifestyle, then it becomes an easy task to keep oneself on track.
The same philosophy applies for happiness. One should give higher priority to happiness. But monitoring it unnecessarily is a sin. Happiness should be at the top of a person’s wish list. That is the only way to attain happiness. If happiness follows things like money, fame, power, superiority etc., then an individual will always end up being unhappy. Thus, being happy requires an individual to not compromise his happiness with any other tangible and material benefit.
Let us now take part in a small exercise. List down all the things that make you happy. It can be a sport, a hobby or a memory. Try to play that sport or pursue that hobby or recall that memory every day once or multiple times. Don’t monitor if you are growing happier or not. We will discuss the tools for measurement of happiness in the later chapters. Don’t force your mind to be happy. Just follow it and make it a part of your lifestyle. This will prioritize happiness in your life.