Happiness Is Not ‘Out There.’ It’s Something You Create

Happiness Is Not ‘Out There.’ It’s Something You Create

via Forbes by Rodger Dean Duncan

American naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau put our time in perspective more than a century and a half ago. “Happiness,” he said, “is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”  

Many people have learned a lot about themselves during the Covid pandemic. They’ve reassessed their priorities. They’ve realized what really matters to them, and what does not. They’ve gained fresh appreciation for “the little things” that make life interesting and rewarding. They’ve fine-tuned their definition of “happiness.”

Lockdowns and social distancing have reminded us that happiness often sneaks in through a door we didn’t know we left open.

Lord Richard Layard, program director of the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, knows a lot about happiness. A noted expert on mental health, he is co-editor of the World Happiness Report and a contributor to other prominent studies on happiness.

Rodger Dean Duncan: How do you respond to people who view happiness as a frivolous concept that has little to do with the strength of society?

Lord Richard Layard: I would say to them—is it silly to ask if you’re happy in your marriage? Or to ask you if your child is happy in school, or if you’re happy in work? Obviously, they’re not. In fact, I think the most important idea of the modern age, which began in the 18th century, was instead of thinking about the next life and whether we can be happy there, people started asking “what is going to be the quality of our life here on earth?” That is how we should be judging the state of society. It’s the most natural possible way of thinking about the “good society” as one in which we are enjoying our lives and feeling fulfilled…

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