Optimizing For Happiness

It’s a universal belief most people just want to be happy in their lives. Yet the research shows we’re really bad at predicting the things that actually make us happy. (How’s that for Irony-with-a-capital-I?) – Tony Hsieh

Pursuing happiness is often a tricky battle that everyone struggles with throughout their life. It usually follows the following sequence of statements:

When I get ____, I will be happy, or when I achieve ____, I will be happy.

Many people spend their entire lives pursuing a goal that fits into the quote above. Unfortunately studies on happiness levels before and after these milestones are mostly similar and do not lead to sustained happiness. Lottery winners are the canonical example of people who are surveyed one year after winning and find themselves at the same or worse happiness level compared to when they had no great fortune. Our gut instincts often do not reveal the the things in our life that will truly make us feel happy for life. Tony Hsieh has done quite a bit of reading on the science of happiness, and hopefully his summary will help you rethink your goals.

Page 233:

Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of your relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself). This framework can be applied to business as well.

My summary of advice from Page 234:

Perceived Control

Do you have the opportunity and decision making power to grow your skills?

Perceived Progress

Have you setup short-term goals with measurable results?


Psychologists believe happiness does not come from within, but from between each other.


Finding a higher purpose is the longest form of happiness. This has to be something beyond money or profits.


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02 2012