What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

The Happiness Project

When I was younger, one of my many failed “business attempts” was called The Happiness Project.

During this time (early 20s), I often felt lost and sad.

I desperately wanted to “find happiness” because that seemed like the only solve.

This was a tough phase for me. I lost my hair, thought I had cancer, etc. Most of it was due to self-induced anxiety from the “aimless searching.”

The best way I can describe how I felt is that life felt kind of dim. I was certain there should be more, I just didn’t know where it was or how to unlock it. I’m sure many high achievers go through some form of this in their early years when they know nothing and want everything.

The Happiness Project, in theory, was a documentation of how I discovered my own happiness and a “system” for helping others do the same.

Silly, I know…(the ego of someone that thinks they could systematize finding happiness. Who do I think I am, Tai Lopez?)

That project eventually fizzled out, but that core idea anchored in my subconscious…what makes people happy?

Somewhere along the way, I realized I was consistently happier than I used to be.

After reflecting, I’ve realized why.

It was a simple mindset shift, but probably the most important one I’ve ever made in my life.

If I could go back and share anything with my 21 year old self, it’d be this…

This is how most people think happiness works.

Their “work” life is broken down into 3 phases:

  1. The Work

  2. The Achievement

  3. The Coast

People believe they are meant to suffer and struggle through the work phase. They think, if they speed run it as fast and intensely as possible, they can “get to the success goal line" faster.

Eventually they will have some achievement. This will range in size depending on the person. Maybe it’s selling their company for $50M or getting promoted to a partner at their firm. Usually this is tied to money but it can be any sort of achievement (e.g., kids graduating high school, etc.).

After said achievement, they assume their happiness will slowly increase until they die. They’ve put in the work, their financial problems and stress should be gone, they have complete time freedom, and so happiness must go up.

Sadly, this is not how the brain actually works.

The real chart, when approached suboptimally, looks something like this…

People sprint through the work stage, burn themselves out, hit the achievement, have a temporary blip of happiness, and then get sad again.

When the achievement doesn’t lead to happiness, they get lost and wonder, “Why did I just spend 30 years sprinting towards that achievement only to be sadder now?”

This explains the common insight that billionaires are some of the saddest people in the world.

Their success goal line is unbelievably high, they find a way to hit it, and yet, are still sad.

How could this be?

It’s because of a combination of four factors:

  1. The human brain is wired to want progress, not achievement

  2. The desire for progress is a never ending game

  3. Progress comes during “The Work” phase, not “The Achievement” phase

  4. The Success Goal Line resets higher as you hit it

I’ll quickly explain each of these, but I believe they all map back to our ancestral genetic code.

Our brains work the way they work because they were wired for survival. To keep the species alive, and continue to push innovation forward, we had to become worker drones constantly progressing.

Our subconscious incentive loops were designed accordingly.

In other words, it is hard wired into us to not feel permanently satisfied after achievement.

Killing a buffalo didn’t lead to forever happiness…just a temporary period of celebration until the meat ran out.

The reason you feel off, and not happy, is because you’re resisting your nature and have stopped progressing.

I. Progress Over Achievement

People feel happiness when they get better at something, even if that thing isn’t what they like doing.

The work phase consists of constant improvement day by day. That’s progress.

The more you work at it, the better you become.

Achievement is merely a check-in on how your skills have progressed over a period.

In society, we use achievements as comparable benchmarks to measure skill development at a point in time.

But the reason you get sad immediately after hitting an achievement milestone is because the happiness actually came from the progress required to hit it, not hitting it itself.

After a few days/weeks celebrating the achievement, your brain starts to get antsy. It needs to feel progress again.

This dissonance, between you thinking you’d be “done” and your brain wanting to keep going is what causes sadness.

And it’s not really sadness…it’s just confusion because you set the wrong expectations.

So tactical lesson #1 is to realize that happiness comes from the progress in the work, not the achievement.

Also, as a side note, this is why I think parents feel consistently happy and more fulfilled than non-parents. Raising a child is constant daily progress with very little rest for singular achievement.

II. Never Ending Games

As I mentioned above, your brain is hardwired to want to keep progressing forever.

This means there is no single achievement. And there is no coast.

Life is a set of achievements that you continue progressing towards until you die.

If you resist this in your nature…you will get sad.

Realizing this will help you extend your time horizon and slow down the pace during your work phases.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with intensity, but sacrificing everything forever is suboptimal.

No one on earth can sprint forever. You shouldn’t either.

Tactical lesson #2 is to slow down the work phases from sprints to runs where you can enjoy progress by mixing in the rest of life. Sprinting because you think you’ll be “done” after achieving, is a foolish mistake that leads to sadness.

III. Progress Comes During The Work Phase, Not The Achievement Phase

I’ll keep this one short.

Achievement is a moment in time. Work can last for decades.

Progress takes time and iterative reps, so it happens during the work phase.

When you realize that your happiness actually comes from the work phase, you’ll start enjoying it more.

This is why picking the right thing to work on is one of the most important decisions you can make…your happiness depends on you enjoying that work day after day.

IV. Success Goal Line Moves Forever

Just as the need for progress will exist forever, so does the need to push the upper limit of where that progress can go.

This explains why you reset your success goal lines as soon as you hit an achievement.

Knowing this will happen, and accepting it, helps reduce the sadness cliff when you don’t feel satisfied after achieving something.

You’re not broken for wanting more after you’ve achieved the biggest thing you could think of…this is hardwired into you.

Again, by accepting this will happen, you’ll be less sad when it does.

— — — — — — — —

When you tie all of this together, it maps to a chart that looks something like this.

You’ll notice there is way more green than red. Once you realize how your brain works, you can extract happiness from the work phases.

This is how I’m trying to approach my life moving forward.

Of course, the green zones aren’t actually up only.

If I were to draw it with full detail, there would be lots of little ups and downs throughout each work phase. But in aggregate, work = progress and progress = happiness.

The combined lesson is that happiness comes from continuous progress for a lifetime, not blips of achievement.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

The Happiness Project

When I was younger, one of my many failed “business attempts” was called The Happiness Project.

During this time (early 20s), I often felt lost and sad.

I desperately wanted to “find happiness” because that seemed like the only solve.

This was a tough phase for me. I lost my hair, thought I had cancer, etc. Most of it was due to self-induced anxiety from the “aimless searching.”

The best way I can describe how I felt is that life felt kind of dim. I was certain there should be more, I just didn’t know where it was or how to unlock it. I’m sure many high achievers go through some form of this in their early years when they know nothing and want everything.

The Happiness Project, in theory, was a documentation of how I discovered my own happiness and a “system” for helping others do the same.

Silly, I know…(the ego of someone that thinks they could systematize finding happiness. Who do I think I am, Tai Lopez?)

That project eventually fizzled out, but that core idea anchored in my subconscious…what makes people happy?

Somewhere along the way, I realized I was consistently happier than I used to be.

After reflecting, I’ve realized why.

It was a simple mindset shift, but probably the most important one I’ve ever made in my life.

If I could go back and share anything with my 21 year old self, it’d be this…

This is how most people think happiness works.

Their “work” life is broken down into 3 phases:

  1. The Work

  2. The Achievement

  3. The Coast

People believe they are meant to suffer and struggle through the work phase. They think, if they speed run it as fast and intensely as possible, they can “get to the success goal line" faster.

Eventually they will have some achievement. This will range in size depending on the person. Maybe it’s selling their company for $50M or getting promoted to a partner at their firm. Usually this is tied to money but it can be any sort of achievement (e.g., kids graduating high school, etc.).

After said achievement, they assume their happiness will slowly increase until they die. They’ve put in the work, their financial problems and stress should be gone, they have complete time freedom, and so happiness must go up.

Sadly, this is not how the brain actually works.

The real chart, when approached suboptimally, looks something like this…

People sprint through the work stage, burn themselves out, hit the achievement, have a temporary blip of happiness, and then get sad again.

When the achievement doesn’t lead to happiness, they get lost and wonder, “Why did I just spend 30 years sprinting towards that achievement only to be sadder now?”

This explains the common insight that billionaires are some of the saddest people in the world.

Their success goal line is unbelievably high, they find a way to hit it, and yet, are still sad.

How could this be?

It’s because of a combination of four factors:

  1. The human brain is wired to want progress, not achievement

  2. The desire for progress is a never ending game

  3. Progress comes during “The Work” phase, not “The Achievement” phase

  4. The Success Goal Line resets higher as you hit it

I’ll quickly explain each of these, but I believe they all map back to our ancestral genetic code.

Our brains work the way they work because they were wired for survival. To keep the species alive, and continue to push innovation forward, we had to become worker drones constantly progressing.

Our subconscious incentive loops were designed accordingly.

In other words, it is hard wired into us to not feel permanently satisfied after achievement.

Killing a buffalo didn’t lead to forever happiness…just a temporary period of celebration until the meat ran out.

The reason you feel off, and not happy, is because you’re resisting your nature and have stopped progressing.

I. Progress Over Achievement

People feel happiness when they get better at something, even if that thing isn’t what they like doing.

The work phase consists of constant improvement day by day. That’s progress.

The more you work at it, the better you become.

Achievement is merely a check-in on how your skills have progressed over a period.

In society, we use achievements as comparable benchmarks to measure skill development at a point in time.

But the reason you get sad immediately after hitting an achievement milestone is because the happiness actually came from the progress required to hit it, not hitting it itself.

After a few days/weeks celebrating the achievement, your brain starts to get antsy. It needs to feel progress again.

This dissonance, between you thinking you’d be “done” and your brain wanting to keep going is what causes sadness.

And it’s not really sadness…it’s just confusion because you set the wrong expectations.

So tactical lesson #1 is to realize that happiness comes from the progress in the work, not the achievement.

Also, as a side note, this is why I think parents feel consistently happy and more fulfilled than non-parents. Raising a child is constant daily progress with very little rest for singular achievement.

II. Never Ending Games

As I mentioned above, your brain is hardwired to want to keep progressing forever.

This means there is no single achievement. And there is no coast.

Life is a set of achievements that you continue progressing towards until you die.

If you resist this in your nature…you will get sad.

Realizing this will help you extend your time horizon and slow down the pace during your work phases.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with intensity, but sacrificing everything forever is suboptimal.

No one on earth can sprint forever. You shouldn’t either.

Tactical lesson #2 is to slow down the work phases from sprints to runs where you can enjoy progress by mixing in the rest of life. Sprinting because you think you’ll be “done” after achieving, is a foolish mistake that leads to sadness.

III. Progress Comes During The Work Phase, Not The Achievement Phase

I’ll keep this one short.

Achievement is a moment in time. Work can last for decades.

Progress takes time and iterative reps, so it happens during the work phase.

When you realize that your happiness actually comes from the work phase, you’ll start enjoying it more.

This is why picking the right thing to work on is one of the most important decisions you can make…your happiness depends on you enjoying that work day after day.

IV. Success Goal Line Moves Forever

Just as the need for progress will exist forever, so does the need to push the upper limit of where that progress can go.

This explains why you reset your success goal lines as soon as you hit an achievement.

Knowing this will happen, and accepting it, helps reduce the sadness cliff when you don’t feel satisfied after achieving something.

You’re not broken for wanting more after you’ve achieved the biggest thing you could think of…this is hardwired into you.

Again, by accepting this will happen, you’ll be less sad when it does.

— — — — — — — —

When you tie all of this together, it maps to a chart that looks something like this.

You’ll notice there is way more green than red. Once you realize how your brain works, you can extract happiness from the work phases.

This is how I’m trying to approach my life moving forward.

Of course, the green zones aren’t actually up only.

If I were to draw it with full detail, there would be lots of little ups and downs throughout each work phase. But in aggregate, work = progress and progress = happiness.

The combined lesson is that happiness comes from continuous progress for a lifetime, not blips of achievement.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

The Happiness Project

When I was younger, one of my many failed “business attempts” was called The Happiness Project.

During this time (early 20s), I often felt lost and sad.

I desperately wanted to “find happiness” because that seemed like the only solve.

This was a tough phase for me. I lost my hair, thought I had cancer, etc. Most of it was due to self-induced anxiety from the “aimless searching.”

The best way I can describe how I felt is that life felt kind of dim. I was certain there should be more, I just didn’t know where it was or how to unlock it. I’m sure many high achievers go through some form of this in their early years when they know nothing and want everything.

The Happiness Project, in theory, was a documentation of how I discovered my own happiness and a “system” for helping others do the same.

Silly, I know…(the ego of someone that thinks they could systematize finding happiness. Who do I think I am, Tai Lopez?)

That project eventually fizzled out, but that core idea anchored in my subconscious…what makes people happy?

Somewhere along the way, I realized I was consistently happier than I used to be.

After reflecting, I’ve realized why.

It was a simple mindset shift, but probably the most important one I’ve ever made in my life.

If I could go back and share anything with my 21 year old self, it’d be this…

This is how most people think happiness works.

Their “work” life is broken down into 3 phases:

  1. The Work

  2. The Achievement

  3. The Coast

People believe they are meant to suffer and struggle through the work phase. They think, if they speed run it as fast and intensely as possible, they can “get to the success goal line" faster.

Eventually they will have some achievement. This will range in size depending on the person. Maybe it’s selling their company for $50M or getting promoted to a partner at their firm. Usually this is tied to money but it can be any sort of achievement (e.g., kids graduating high school, etc.).

After said achievement, they assume their happiness will slowly increase until they die. They’ve put in the work, their financial problems and stress should be gone, they have complete time freedom, and so happiness must go up.

Sadly, this is not how the brain actually works.

The real chart, when approached suboptimally, looks something like this…

People sprint through the work stage, burn themselves out, hit the achievement, have a temporary blip of happiness, and then get sad again.

When the achievement doesn’t lead to happiness, they get lost and wonder, “Why did I just spend 30 years sprinting towards that achievement only to be sadder now?”

This explains the common insight that billionaires are some of the saddest people in the world.

Their success goal line is unbelievably high, they find a way to hit it, and yet, are still sad.

How could this be?

It’s because of a combination of four factors:

  1. The human brain is wired to want progress, not achievement

  2. The desire for progress is a never ending game

  3. Progress comes during “The Work” phase, not “The Achievement” phase

  4. The Success Goal Line resets higher as you hit it

I’ll quickly explain each of these, but I believe they all map back to our ancestral genetic code.

Our brains work the way they work because they were wired for survival. To keep the species alive, and continue to push innovation forward, we had to become worker drones constantly progressing.

Our subconscious incentive loops were designed accordingly.

In other words, it is hard wired into us to not feel permanently satisfied after achievement.

Killing a buffalo didn’t lead to forever happiness…just a temporary period of celebration until the meat ran out.

The reason you feel off, and not happy, is because you’re resisting your nature and have stopped progressing.

I. Progress Over Achievement

People feel happiness when they get better at something, even if that thing isn’t what they like doing.

The work phase consists of constant improvement day by day. That’s progress.

The more you work at it, the better you become.

Achievement is merely a check-in on how your skills have progressed over a period.

In society, we use achievements as comparable benchmarks to measure skill development at a point in time.

But the reason you get sad immediately after hitting an achievement milestone is because the happiness actually came from the progress required to hit it, not hitting it itself.

After a few days/weeks celebrating the achievement, your brain starts to get antsy. It needs to feel progress again.

This dissonance, between you thinking you’d be “done” and your brain wanting to keep going is what causes sadness.

And it’s not really sadness…it’s just confusion because you set the wrong expectations.

So tactical lesson #1 is to realize that happiness comes from the progress in the work, not the achievement.

Also, as a side note, this is why I think parents feel consistently happy and more fulfilled than non-parents. Raising a child is constant daily progress with very little rest for singular achievement.

II. Never Ending Games

As I mentioned above, your brain is hardwired to want to keep progressing forever.

This means there is no single achievement. And there is no coast.

Life is a set of achievements that you continue progressing towards until you die.

If you resist this in your nature…you will get sad.

Realizing this will help you extend your time horizon and slow down the pace during your work phases.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with intensity, but sacrificing everything forever is suboptimal.

No one on earth can sprint forever. You shouldn’t either.

Tactical lesson #2 is to slow down the work phases from sprints to runs where you can enjoy progress by mixing in the rest of life. Sprinting because you think you’ll be “done” after achieving, is a foolish mistake that leads to sadness.

III. Progress Comes During The Work Phase, Not The Achievement Phase

I’ll keep this one short.

Achievement is a moment in time. Work can last for decades.

Progress takes time and iterative reps, so it happens during the work phase.

When you realize that your happiness actually comes from the work phase, you’ll start enjoying it more.

This is why picking the right thing to work on is one of the most important decisions you can make…your happiness depends on you enjoying that work day after day.

IV. Success Goal Line Moves Forever

Just as the need for progress will exist forever, so does the need to push the upper limit of where that progress can go.

This explains why you reset your success goal lines as soon as you hit an achievement.

Knowing this will happen, and accepting it, helps reduce the sadness cliff when you don’t feel satisfied after achieving something.

You’re not broken for wanting more after you’ve achieved the biggest thing you could think of…this is hardwired into you.

Again, by accepting this will happen, you’ll be less sad when it does.

— — — — — — — —

When you tie all of this together, it maps to a chart that looks something like this.

You’ll notice there is way more green than red. Once you realize how your brain works, you can extract happiness from the work phases.

This is how I’m trying to approach my life moving forward.

Of course, the green zones aren’t actually up only.

If I were to draw it with full detail, there would be lots of little ups and downs throughout each work phase. But in aggregate, work = progress and progress = happiness.

The combined lesson is that happiness comes from continuous progress for a lifetime, not blips of achievement.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

The Happiness Project

When I was younger, one of my many failed “business attempts” was called The Happiness Project.

During this time (early 20s), I often felt lost and sad.

I desperately wanted to “find happiness” because that seemed like the only solve.

This was a tough phase for me. I lost my hair, thought I had cancer, etc. Most of it was due to self-induced anxiety from the “aimless searching.”

The best way I can describe how I felt is that life felt kind of dim. I was certain there should be more, I just didn’t know where it was or how to unlock it. I’m sure many high achievers go through some form of this in their early years when they know nothing and want everything.

The Happiness Project, in theory, was a documentation of how I discovered my own happiness and a “system” for helping others do the same.

Silly, I know…(the ego of someone that thinks they could systematize finding happiness. Who do I think I am, Tai Lopez?)

That project eventually fizzled out, but that core idea anchored in my subconscious…what makes people happy?

Somewhere along the way, I realized I was consistently happier than I used to be.

After reflecting, I’ve realized why.

It was a simple mindset shift, but probably the most important one I’ve ever made in my life.

If I could go back and share anything with my 21 year old self, it’d be this…

This is how most people think happiness works.

Their “work” life is broken down into 3 phases:

  1. The Work

  2. The Achievement

  3. The Coast

People believe they are meant to suffer and struggle through the work phase. They think, if they speed run it as fast and intensely as possible, they can “get to the success goal line" faster.

Eventually they will have some achievement. This will range in size depending on the person. Maybe it’s selling their company for $50M or getting promoted to a partner at their firm. Usually this is tied to money but it can be any sort of achievement (e.g., kids graduating high school, etc.).

After said achievement, they assume their happiness will slowly increase until they die. They’ve put in the work, their financial problems and stress should be gone, they have complete time freedom, and so happiness must go up.

Sadly, this is not how the brain actually works.

The real chart, when approached suboptimally, looks something like this…

People sprint through the work stage, burn themselves out, hit the achievement, have a temporary blip of happiness, and then get sad again.

When the achievement doesn’t lead to happiness, they get lost and wonder, “Why did I just spend 30 years sprinting towards that achievement only to be sadder now?”

This explains the common insight that billionaires are some of the saddest people in the world.

Their success goal line is unbelievably high, they find a way to hit it, and yet, are still sad.

How could this be?

It’s because of a combination of four factors:

  1. The human brain is wired to want progress, not achievement

  2. The desire for progress is a never ending game

  3. Progress comes during “The Work” phase, not “The Achievement” phase

  4. The Success Goal Line resets higher as you hit it

I’ll quickly explain each of these, but I believe they all map back to our ancestral genetic code.

Our brains work the way they work because they were wired for survival. To keep the species alive, and continue to push innovation forward, we had to become worker drones constantly progressing.

Our subconscious incentive loops were designed accordingly.

In other words, it is hard wired into us to not feel permanently satisfied after achievement.

Killing a buffalo didn’t lead to forever happiness…just a temporary period of celebration until the meat ran out.

The reason you feel off, and not happy, is because you’re resisting your nature and have stopped progressing.

I. Progress Over Achievement

People feel happiness when they get better at something, even if that thing isn’t what they like doing.

The work phase consists of constant improvement day by day. That’s progress.

The more you work at it, the better you become.

Achievement is merely a check-in on how your skills have progressed over a period.

In society, we use achievements as comparable benchmarks to measure skill development at a point in time.

But the reason you get sad immediately after hitting an achievement milestone is because the happiness actually came from the progress required to hit it, not hitting it itself.

After a few days/weeks celebrating the achievement, your brain starts to get antsy. It needs to feel progress again.

This dissonance, between you thinking you’d be “done” and your brain wanting to keep going is what causes sadness.

And it’s not really sadness…it’s just confusion because you set the wrong expectations.

So tactical lesson #1 is to realize that happiness comes from the progress in the work, not the achievement.

Also, as a side note, this is why I think parents feel consistently happy and more fulfilled than non-parents. Raising a child is constant daily progress with very little rest for singular achievement.

II. Never Ending Games

As I mentioned above, your brain is hardwired to want to keep progressing forever.

This means there is no single achievement. And there is no coast.

Life is a set of achievements that you continue progressing towards until you die.

If you resist this in your nature…you will get sad.

Realizing this will help you extend your time horizon and slow down the pace during your work phases.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with intensity, but sacrificing everything forever is suboptimal.

No one on earth can sprint forever. You shouldn’t either.

Tactical lesson #2 is to slow down the work phases from sprints to runs where you can enjoy progress by mixing in the rest of life. Sprinting because you think you’ll be “done” after achieving, is a foolish mistake that leads to sadness.

III. Progress Comes During The Work Phase, Not The Achievement Phase

I’ll keep this one short.

Achievement is a moment in time. Work can last for decades.

Progress takes time and iterative reps, so it happens during the work phase.

When you realize that your happiness actually comes from the work phase, you’ll start enjoying it more.

This is why picking the right thing to work on is one of the most important decisions you can make…your happiness depends on you enjoying that work day after day.

IV. Success Goal Line Moves Forever

Just as the need for progress will exist forever, so does the need to push the upper limit of where that progress can go.

This explains why you reset your success goal lines as soon as you hit an achievement.

Knowing this will happen, and accepting it, helps reduce the sadness cliff when you don’t feel satisfied after achieving something.

You’re not broken for wanting more after you’ve achieved the biggest thing you could think of…this is hardwired into you.

Again, by accepting this will happen, you’ll be less sad when it does.

— — — — — — — —

When you tie all of this together, it maps to a chart that looks something like this.

You’ll notice there is way more green than red. Once you realize how your brain works, you can extract happiness from the work phases.

This is how I’m trying to approach my life moving forward.

Of course, the green zones aren’t actually up only.

If I were to draw it with full detail, there would be lots of little ups and downs throughout each work phase. But in aggregate, work = progress and progress = happiness.

The combined lesson is that happiness comes from continuous progress for a lifetime, not blips of achievement.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

What Makes People Happy?

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