Hard Wired Happiness

Srikumar Rao gave a talk a few TEDs back (2009) called “Plug into your hard-wired happiness”. I’ve transcribed parts of it in a kind of note format, because it was really interesting:

There is NOTHING you have to get, do, or be in order to be happy.

An if-then model: “If this happens, THEN we will be happy.” E.g. If I were to get a better job, if I were to get more money, if only I was married. The thing that’s different between you now and you 10 years ago is what is the particular “if” you are focusing on.

Think about your life 10 years ago. Odds are pretty good that many of the things you wanted 10 years ago, you now have. Where has that left you? In exactly the same place! What we don’t realize is that the model itself, the if this happens then I will be happy model, is flawed. Instead, we spend an enormous amount of time changing the “if”.

Actions are within your control, the outcome is completely outside your control. “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If you did the best that you were capable of, the score doesn’t matter. But I suspect that if you did the best you were capable of, you will find the score to your liking.” That is investing in our process. What we do, is the exact opposite — THIS is what I want, and I want it so desperately. You are always investing in the outcome. Focusing on the outcome is fine, but investing in the outcome is a surefire recipe for failure. Invest in the process. Focus on the outcome only to the extent that it gives you direction; then you invest completely in the process. If you succeed, wonderful. If you don’t succeed, STILL wonderful.

I think this can also be applied to the narrative versus experiential that I KEEP coming back around to. Narrative: you keep telling yourself the story of yourself, losing track of what matters. Experiential: you allow things to happen to you, because you are present in the moment.

Brief Notes Nearby