Why Don’t You Know What Makes You Happy?

We are all chasing happiness throughout our lives. Sometimes, we will go to great lengths to try and achieve it. But do you know what will actually make you happy?

It’s hard to argue against happiness. Simply put, it feels good. Given a choice between some other emotion — being sad, for instance, or mad — happiness will win in all but the most extreme circumstances.

However, some studies seem to suggest that what we think will make us content doesn’t. Or at least, it doesn’t produce long-lasting happiness.

For example, we convince ourselves that buying the latest gadget will do the trick. And sure enough, shortly after buying it we are very pleased, but that sensation fades pretty quickly. In turn, that leaves us wanting something else to fulfill that need.

Alternately, it is suggested that positive experiences might lead to longer-lasting happiness. Sharing with a loved one, making memories with friends, or unique experiences are thought to be more fulfilling, ultimately, than some physical possession.

Have you found that to be the case? Do you know what will make you happy? Or do you just think you know? Why would we think something will make us happy when it won’t? Looking back on your past experiences, can you draw any conclusions for what has been the happiest times of your life?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? What makes you the happiest? Why do we put up with unhappiness?


1 thought on “Why Don’t You Know What Makes You Happy?”

  1. I can’t entirely agree with how the question is posed.

    There are some things I know make me happy:
    – seeing my wife smile or chatting with her while taking her to work (in pre-COVID times);
    – watching birds, bees, and butterflies — oh, and veggies grow — in my garden;
    – eating dark chocolate;
    – helping a person see how politically powerful they can be;
    – having some one tell me how my using the word “snazzy” makes them happy;
    – memories often related to my travels or accomplishing a big project.

    Yes, I am positive these experiences are just a handful of the things that bring me immediate joy.

    Notice that I said I was certain memories of some travels and accomplishments made me happy rather than the actual experiences. While the actual events may have made me happy, that’s not a guarantee. Travel involves lugging luggage from one destination to the next. One day’s sightseeing may be burdened by heat, rain, or getting lost. Regarding an accomplishment, I may not have enjoyed the hours I spent working on building my new garden plot or all the days I spent advocating for social change at the Minnesota State Capitol. But I often find the memories of most travel and accomplishments bring me happiness.

    New gadgets may not make you happy for long. But if you are selective of the ones you know will help create more enjoyable experiences — for me, for example, a better camera to take pictures of my travels or observing and sharing the creatures and veggies in my garden — these are the types of gadgets I find worth the investment.

    To close, I think it essential to inject things you are confident will make you happy into each day. Bringing the word “snazzy” to a new audience, standing still in my garden for several minutes, or reserving time to think about something I once accomplished can help combat a day of stress or toil.

    Despite everything I just wrote, I agree, we can be wrong at judging what will bring us happiness. That’s why I’d encourage people to use experiences and proven memories over ill-considered gadgets and other things to bring us joy.

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