We all want to experience pleasure all the time. But it’s utility is temporary, the dopamine hit comes and goes. Addiction is the attempt to make it last forever. Spinning the social media wheel, again and again, is a prime example of its superficiality.
Happiness, on the other hand, “is long-term, additive and generous.” It’s a state of mind built over time through sustained effort toward true connection and generosity. It’s a deeper emotional investment with zero emphases on cash-value.
We have two choices: the taking of short-term dopamine or the giving of long-term serotonin. We become what we choose.
If you can find joy in the ordinary and not just the extraordinary moments, you’ll live a much happier life.
When you’re young, it’s the big moments like our first car or getting our first kiss that shapes our lives. As we age, the small things matter — a sip of warm coffee or lunch with a friend.
Joy all comes down to the art of noticing. Says Google’s former mindfulness guru Chade-Meng Tan:
“Noticing sounds trivial, but it is an important meditative practice in its own right. Noticing is the prerequisite of seeing. What we do not notice, we cannot see.”
The practice of noticing everyday moments leads to Meng Tan calls “thin slices of joy,” quite the opposite of “thin slices of anxiety.” Life happens in the moments in between, the dull moments that people usually take for granted.
At some point, you’ll need to decide which is more important to you: time or money.
Everybody has the same amount of time. However, few people can enjoy it because they have to go to work. But we can be deliberate with time when it comes, using it pursue a hobby or hang out with friends and family. It’s proven that people who choose time over money spend it wisely and are happier for it.
Some rich folks feel like they never have enough money, so they buy things they never have time to use. They’re unhappy because they confuse time with money, but materialism rarely equates to happiness.
There is no doubt that money makes life easier. Who wants to wait in line, eat Ramen every night, and feel left out because they can’t afford to travel or upgrade their computer? Being poor sucks. But focusing on money fails to create the deeper meaning you seek.
“I wanted to pursue my star further,” Jack Kerouac once wrote. What he longed for is more time. The gas tank is starving for fuel so the individual can go out and find meaning. But that same person can always choose to slow down and walk for free.