happiness example

It’s unsettlingly easy to fall into the comparison rabbit hole nowadays. People try their best to display the best versions of themselves on various social media sites, potentially causing us to envy them, albeit subconsciously.

I have looked up to people in my life because they seemed to have it all worked out and seemingly exuded a happy vibe. Only to find out later that those very same people were, regrettably, fundamentally unhappy.

We shouldn’t look for happiness outside ourselves, in other people, and by no means in (those people’s) possessions. To compare is to despair. Look for a wholehearted, full feeling of contentment inside.

cherish naivety

Involving other people to join you in solving a problem has the potential to create an instant breakthrough. Looking for someone to consult, expertise isn’t always a prerequisite. On the contrary, sometimes, the lack thereof is a blessing. The infamous “but can’t you just” advice has probably solved numerous problems. All thanks to a fresh perspective.

Naivety is often depicted negatively. Still, substantial value lies in approaching problems naively, in combination with expertise, of course.

Don’t dismiss naivety straight away. Cherish it.

anonymous accusation withdrawal

Judgment passed as a response to a claim made anonymously is more sincere. The more characteristics we know about the person making a claim, the less genuine our judgment becomes.

There is a tacit eligibility-factor we take into account when we see or hear people making claims. Quickly calculating how much we think this person is in a position to make such a claim.

Accusations being thrown around sometimes get withdrawn upon realizing the person’s eligibility for making a claim. That says something about the nature of the accusation, to begin with.

our brain is a compression algorithm

Human brains are the most expensive organs in terms of energy consumption. As a self-preservation tactic, we try to save energy where we can. Therefore, being lazy could be considered smart.

Compression algorithms, the technology that makes files smaller, work similarly. There are many different ways of going about this. Still, fundamentally, many compression algorithms share the same approach at their cores. Look for similarities and omit excess information. For example, you take a photo of a loved one on a clear sunny day. The blue sky’s pixels could be rendered individually, or, in an attempt to reduce file size, the pixels could be clustered. Meaning, as long as the next pixel is similar to the previous one, we can group them.

Even cats go about their day applying compression algorithms. Our domesticated feline friends have excellent spatial awareness. When you put a cucumber, or any object for that matter, behind them when they can’t see, they lose their minds upon noticing. Why? They scanned the environment when they entered the room. The new information being introduced unknowingly is rather shocking for them.

People do the same thing. Cities can be tumultuous. If we have to pay attention to every single detail, our energy would be absolutely drained before we arrive at work. Riding a bicycle in a city, for instance, requires paying attention to cars, traffic lights, pedestrians, and so on. That’s plenty of information as is. Our brains will filter out the smell of the bakery, the sound of the birds, among many other distractions, in an attempt to save energy.

Have you ever turned down the music to better park your car? I sure have. That’s a semi-conscious action. Our brains continuously apply many compression tactics without us being aware. Depending on your energy level, we can try to bypass the compression or deliberately pay attention to things we’d usually miss. Children can notice pretty much everything, but as we grow older, we somehow lose the ability.

Suppose we want fresh perspectives and really be present in the moment. In that case, it’s interesting to be aware of our compression algorithm and turn it (all the way) down when we can and want to.

Positively negative

The words positive and negative have precise, unambiguous meanings. However, the sentiment they’re supposed to express upon uttering them can be the exact opposite.

Take a pregnancy test, for instance. If the result is positive, but the woman in question isn’t ready to have a child, it renders the result negative, and vice versa.

Context is everything.

too much of a good thing is never enough

Growing up as a kid, we used to have a poster in the house with a quote from Garfield saying: too much of a good thing is never enough. The fat cartoon cat was sitting next to what’s left of a pie. I honestly don’t know why that poster was there, it wasn’t particularly visually appealing. However, the saying always stuck with me.

Even though it sounds nice, it’s probably inaccurate and perhaps even dangerous. A tasty pie could definitely be considered a good thing. It could potentially uplift our spirits upon consuming it. Eating the entire pie though, is an entirely different story. Without going into medical details, excessive sugar intake is just plain bad. Not all pleasant things (whatever they may be) are good for us, and inversely, not all unpleasant things are bad for us.

Arguably, there are bound to be some good things where too much is never enough. Let’s take charity for one, would too much charity truly never be enough? Quite possible so. The issue wouldn’t be the amount or quantity of charity going around; it would become a matter of distribution speed.

If Jameela is giving all of her money, after selling all of her assets to charity, Jameela could be considered a wonderful human being; however, chances are she didn’t do the best possible job she could have done. Maybe now she is struggling to get by herself, causing her to no longer contribute to charity. Whereas if she had distributed her giving slower and more evenly, in the end, she could have helped more people, starting a fund or non-profit along the way.

Too much of a good thing is never enough. Only if the speed (and recurrence) with which the item is consumed or distributed is moderate.

pay toll on the road to success

nearly a decade ago, i was driving through the alps on my way back home. in Austria, i was presented with a choice. Either take an expensive toll road or take a detour. Even though I wasn’t in a hurry, and I didn’t mind putting in the extra kilometers, I ended up choosing the toll road. The “scenic road” label sparked my interest. The other option never stood much of a chance.

In life, on the road to success, we must pay a toll. Lots of it. No (financial) pain, no gain. A toll-free alternative will get you there eventually, but it’s a lot less glorious and much more time-consuming.

The Austrian road was absolutely delightful — rolling hills announcing mountains behind them, sweeping curves, and fresh asphalt. Comparing with other toll road experiences, this one, in particular, was well worth it. the views were astounding. five stars. Would recommend. Would go down again.

Why reject a toll road to success? When the free alternative provides better learning opportunities or greater satisfaction, denouncing the toll road becomes an option. If the toll road isn’t feasible, budget-wise, the thought of it is nevertheless still appealing.

On the road to success, you must pay. Dues or toll, the choice is yours.

Triple joy

Shared joy is double joy, according to a Swedish proverb. My claim is this: postponing happiness adds an extra multiplier to it. That is, for joy, you are intrinsically and consciously willing to put off.

Now it seems that the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment has aged. In this experiment, children were given one marshmallow and were told that if they wouldn’t eat it and wait for a little while, they would get another marshmallow. Keep in mind that, as a kid, with a marshmallow underneath your nose, fifteen minutes feel like an eternity. Scientists believed that the kids who went through the effort of waiting did better in life later on.

This theory has recently been debunked. New evidence shows that the kids who wait for the marshmallow aren’t necessarily outperforming their so-called greedier counterparts.

Regardless of the ability of a (young) child to resist temptation, there is a large body of literature claiming many beneficial effects related to deferred gratification. As our world becomes increasingly frictionless, patience is a virtue that most of us lack, today maybe more so than ever before.

Good things come to those who wait. We have to be willing to wait and encourage this behavior in ourselves and children to go from double joy, to triple joy.

If you think it’s too hot, it probably is

It’s Saturday morning, and you decide to grind some East-African coffee beans. You’re fancy like that. You brew a cup of joe. Eager to taste the black gold, you put your lips to the steaming cup. You hesitate, pause and think for a second about the temperature of the coffee. It’s probably too hot.

How will you know for sure, though? You take a sip. Guess what. It’s too hot.

Completely neglecting the fact you were able to witness steam emerging from your cup seconds ago.

You don’t always need sensory input to believe (in something).

Revisit with caution

Nostalgia is overrated and easy to exploit. As it turns out, people aren’t reluctant to spend top currency for items, services, or experiences that hold nostalgic value to them.

Our brains are tricky like that. As a protection mechanism, they sometimes sugar coat the past for us. How awfully nice of them. As a result, past experiences may seem better now than they did at that moment in time. It’s like an Instagram filter for the mind. Visualizing experiences with brighter, more vibrant colors. Omitting (proverbial) grey rainy days from our memories, while we’re at it.

Agatha Christie once said: “Never go back to a place where you have been happy. Until you do it remains alive for you. If you go back it will be destroyed.” In other words, don’t be a buzzkill and keep the magic alive.

It’s always risky to fall in love with an idea, both past- and present ideas. Thinking back of places where you used to live makes you reminisce about the concept of yourself as a person, and perhaps even miss your former self. That’s a slippery slope. If we are somehow under the impression that we used to be happier in the past, we long for a version of ourselves that is no longer there. In doing so, we neglect the fact that we’ve undoubtedly grown as a person, and in true – dwell on the past – style, regret the passing of time.

I wouldn’t go as far, saying you should never go back to a place where you have been happy. Manage your expectations and be aware that the tingle in your spine you are chasing is probably no longer there; it was with you all along.