What Makes for a Happier Life?

Review of “I’ve spent years studying happiness – here’s what actually makes for a happier life”

The author, Christopher Boyce, takes the reader on a journey of discovery, sharing insights gained from their academic background, as well as their experience while exploring happiness on a bicycle journey to Bhutan. Bhutan, located in Southern Asia, is renowned for its use of the Gross National Happiness Index which is a philosophy where the government prioritizes some policy decisions based on the happiness and well-being of its population.

woman on motorcycle stopping by side of road

Here are some key takeaways from this article:

1. For Sustained Happiness, Go Deep: The author emphasized that genuine happiness isn’t just about constant laughter and smiles but involves deeper emotions and connections. They highlighted the importance of embracing all emotions, including sadness and anxiety, as natural parts of life. And stated the kind of happiness that endures is grounded in connection, purpose, and hope, allowing room for the entire spectrum of human feelings.

2. Have Goals but Prepare to Let Them Go: While goals provide direction, the article suggested that becoming overly fixated on achieving them can hinder happiness. Staying present in the journey toward one’s goals, and not sacrificing present contentment for future success, is more ideal. The author’s personal experience of letting go of the goal to reach Bhutan multiple times during their bicycle journey exemplified this principle.

3. Don’t Be Misled by Stories: The article challenged popular narratives about happiness, such as the idea that wealth equates to happiness. It stressed that the pursuit of money often comes at the expense of other aspects of life, such as relationships and well-being. The author’s research experience and travel observations reinforced that genuine happiness is found in meaningful connections and similar values, not in the accumulation of wealth.

4. Allow Others to Give: The importance of warm and loving relationships for happiness was highlighted. The article acknowledged the challenge of cultivating such relationships and the common misconception that people will only love us under specific conditions. The author’s journey reveals the unexpected kindness and generosity of strangers, emphasizing the value of letting people in and forming genuine connections.

5. You Can Get Through a Crisis: The article discussed the fact that we will all, at one time or another, face a crisis in life and the importance of seeking support and giving oneself time to navigate these challenges. Resilience is portrayed as a crucial aspect of finding one’s way through crises, drawing from the author’s personal experiences during their bicycle journey.

6. You Can’t Beat the Million-Star Hotel: Nature’s role in human well-being is emphasized, and the author points out that humans are inherently connected to the natural world. The piece encourages spending more time in nature and highlights the restorative power of being in natural environments.

In summary, this article offered a unique perspective on happiness. It encouraged readers to reevaluate their understanding of happiness and consider a more profound and holistic approach to leading a happier life. The author’s journey to Bhutan served as a fascinating story for these valuable life lessons.