I’m surprised by how little we talk about happiness. People worry about how they look, how much they earn, what they drive, and all of these are seen as potential paths to happiness. But very few people seem to think about happiness itself. For the past decade I have struggled with both anxiety and depression, so happiness has become a sort of obsession for me. In my pursuit of happiness here are things I’ve found essential:
- Exercise – I exercise everyday. Running, swimming or doing yoga. I don’t do it to look good or even to stay healthy. I do it because it makes me feel good. There is a biochemical reaction to exercise. The harder I work, the more endorphins are released, the happier I feel.
- Experience – I spend way too much money at restaurants and on trips and far too little on cars and clothes. Why? Because things don’t make you happy. The brief surge of happiness you get from a purchase is fleeting. Today’s hot gadget becomes tomorrow’s headache. So I opt for experience always. I’ve flown over 100,000 miles this year, I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world, and most importantly, I have connected with incredibly interesting people.
- Relationships – Building relationships with friends and lovers is one of the best ways to drive long term happiness. Whether I am philosophizing with Tom or Rich, running the city with Jaspar or cuddling with Dom, I am happy.
- Reflection – Maintaining perspective in this crazy world is tough. Taking sometime to sit quietly and reflect each day can help a lot. I meditate. But you can go for a walk or simply sit. It takes patience. But the long term effects of daily reflection are pretty spectacular.