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Happiness is more than a feeling or a state of mind. There are real, practical steps you can take to get on the path to a happier life—one with lasting contentment and fewer regrets. Gad Saad, a professor of marketing at Concordia Univ., popular podcaster, and author of The Saad Truth About Happiness, shares seven ways to maximize your happiness.
I recently had the great classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson on my YouTube show, The Saad Truth.
Victor ended our conversation with the following: “It’s so nice to see an academic who smiles. I don’t do it enough, but you do.”
His comment moved me deeply. Sure, my positive demeanor is partly my nature. But, like everyone else, I’ve had my share of misfortune and disappointment. I grew up literally in the middle of a war zone in Beirut, Lebanon. I had a promising future as a soccer player kicked out from under me by a devastating injury. I’ve lost coveted teaching positions because of my iconoclastic political views. The list of personal setbacks is very long. So, I’m sure, is yours. That’s just the way it is. And we all know it.
But I refuse to let life beat me down. I don’t want to be unhappy five minutes longer than necessary. Life is too precious and too short. To that end, I’ve given the subject of happiness a lot of thought.
Here are seven ways to maximize your happiness.
One: Find the right spouse
The most important person in life is your spouse, so choose wisely. He or she is also the person you are going to spend the most time with. This is why liking your spouse is even more important than loving them, although thankfully the two usually go together. Spending time with someone with whom you share values, who is your best friend, is bliss. Spending time with someone who doesn’t share your values is torture. Navigating relationships, even the best ones, is a tricky business. So, approach your marriage with humility. You’re not perfect and neither is your partner.
Two: Work your way to the right profession
Most of the time you don’t spend with your spouse and your family, you spend at work. A job that you find fulfilling and meaningful means that you’re spending a good part of your day in a happy mental state. The opposite is also true. Nothing (outside of a bad marriage) will make you more miserable than a workplace you can’t stand.
Three: Seek the sweet spot
What is the sweet spot? To understand that, you need to understand the inverted U curve, perhaps the most useful diagram ever conceived. The optimal functioning of human brains and bodies adheres to the inverted-U curve. Take, for example, perfectionism. If you lack any perfectionist bent, say as an author, you will lack the careful attention to details that constitutes an important element of the creative process. On the other hand, if you are too much of a perfectionist, you will spend an inordinate amount of time distracted by minutiae that no one cares about. Somewhere between apathy and perfectionism lies the sweet spot. You can apply the inverted U curve to every aspect of your personal and professional life. Not too much. Not too little.
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