Happiness - a state of mind

What does it mean to you?

It’s spring in Munich. The sun should be starting to shine any day now, but before we bask in the sunlight let’s take a quick detour to explore something inside ourselves that should provide us warmth and comfort even on the coldest of days – happiness. If you are lost on where to begin, don’t worry, there is no right formula.

Understanding how our emotional mechanisms work can be a very important catalyst to our happiness. It is our responsibility to make sure that we understand them thoroughly. From reintroducing stopping cues to utilizing opportunities – the choice is ours. So what are you waiting for?

In this month’s newsletter, we have picked three talks from the global TED(x) stage which we hope can be an inspirational guideline on your road to happiness.

Dominic Price: What’s your happiness score?

We all thought COVID was like a snowstorm, but we quickly realized it was more like a long winter… that was until we realized it’s more like the Ice Age. We all had to quickly learn to adapt and survive because nobody told us “winter was coming”. Now, with the sun just starting to shine through the clouds, the end seems to be near. So, what now? How do we reprioritize what’s important in our lives? Most say happiness cannot be measured but what about a starting point?

“It’s on us to take control and ownership of our happiness.”

– Dominic Price

That’s where the ‘Personal Moral InventoryTM’ could come in handy. Graded on four factors on a scale of -1, 0 or 1, the Personal Moral InventoryTM aids in reflecting on our complex daily life; past, present and future to provide just a little bit more clarity on what we could do better in, so we can all take one step closer to this bright shiny never-ending concept of what we consider happiness.

Adam Alter: Why our screens make us less happy

In 2010, when releasing the iPad, Steve Jobs described the device as “the best experience you can have”. A couple of months later, he was approached by a journalist from the New York Times, who, at the end of the interview, said to him: “Your kids must love the iPad”. Although the journalist was expecting a positive response, Jobs’ answer really staggered him. Steve said: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” 

Surprisingly, this is a very common thing in the tech world. What do high-level Silicon Valley executives know that we don’t? Well, they know that current apps rob us of stopping cues. For instance, most of today’s social media apps are bottomless – there is no limit on the amount of content you can see. Because of this, it is really easy to get addicted to our screens.

“We’re spending three times longer on apps that don’t make us happy. That doesn’t seem very wise.”

– Adam Alter

What can we do about this? According to Adam, we can reintroduce the stopping cues back into our lives. For instance, every time dinner begins, the phone goes far away, such that you avoid temptation all together. We can put our phones on airplane mode during vacations, such that the phone is only a camera. The fact is—we know that people feel much better about their lives when they follow such a routine.

David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful

What do we really mean by gratefulness? And how does it work? David Steindl-Rast, a catholic monk, shares an intriguing perspective: when we experience something of value; it is a gift. It’s a gift that cannot be bought, earned or traded for. It is only given. As pointed out by David, perhaps the crucial factor is that the gift within this gift is the opportunity to enjoy it. Contrarily, imagine if the gift were somewhere else, and you didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy it—you wouldn’t be grateful for it. Therefore, “opportunity is the gift within every gift”.

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”

– David Steindl-Rast

As conceived by David, a grateful world is a happy world, and we all have the opportunity to transform it. We can avail ourselves of this opportunity, or we can miss it. But if we truly recognize the opportunity, the master key to our happiness is in our own hands.