The 4 Archetypes:
- Rat Race – Suffers now for future benefit
- Hedonism – Enjoys now and suffer in the future
- Nihilism – Suffers now and think that the future is meaningless as well.
(Leaned helplessness – when we fail to attain a desired outcome, we often extrapolate from that experience the belief that we have no control over our lives or over certain parts of it. Such thinking leads to despair.)
- Happiness – To expect constant happiness is to set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. Not everything that we do can provide us both present and future benefit. The key is to keep in mind, even as one forgoes some present gain for the sake of a large future again, that the objective is to spend as much time as possible engaged in activities that provide both present and future benefit.
The rat racer’s illusion is that reaching some future destination will bring him lasting happiness; he does not recognize the significance of the journey.
The hedonist’s illusion is that only the journey is important.
The nihilist, having given up on both the destination and the journey, is disillusioned with life.
The rat racer becomes a slave to the future; the hedonist – a slave to the moment; the nihilist – a slave to the past.
Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way towards a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak.
The relationship between happiness and success is reciprocal: not only can success contribute to happiness, but happiness also leads to more success.
Experiencing pleasure is necessary but not sufficient for happiness. Happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.
When speaking of a meaningful life, we often talk of having a sense of purpose, but what we sometimes fail to recognize is that finding this sense of purpose entails more than simply setting goals.
Having goals or even reaching them does not guarantee that we are leading a purposeful existence. To experience a sense of purpose, the goals we set for ourselves need to be intrinsically meaningful. To live a meaningful life, we must have a self-generated purpose that possesses personal significance rather than one that is dictated by society’s standards and expectations. When we do experience this sense of purpose, we often feel as though we have found our calling. As George Bernard Shaw said, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”
Being an idealist is being a realist in the deepest sense – it is being true to our real nature. We are so constituted that we actually need our lives to have meaning. Without a higher purpose, calling, an ideal, we cannot attain our full potential for happiness. While I am not advocating dreaming over doing (both are important), there is a significant truth that many realist – rat racers mostly – ignore: To be idealistic is to be realistic.
People actually have more flow experiences at work than they do at home. In order to achieve flow experiences. we must put in effort and hard wok and our skill level must meet the challenge of the task. If it is too challenging, we experience anxiety. If it is too easy, we experience boredom.
Our equating work and effort with pain and suffering poses an internal barrier that prevents many people from experiencing happiness at school and in the workplace.
In school or at work, we fail to recognize and realize opportunities for happiness; outside of school and work, we squander our “free” time by freeing it of effort, of challenge, and hence, of much meaning. We are then left with a feeling that happiness is hopelessly elusive.
The fairy tale notion of happiness – the belief that something would carry us to the happily ever after-inevitably leads to disappointment. A happy or happier life is rarely shaped by some extraordinary life-changing event; rather, it is shaped incrementally, experience by experience, moment by moment.
To realize, to make real, life potential for the ultimate currency, we must first accept the “this is it”–that all there is to life is the day-to-day, the ordinary, the details of the mosaic. We are living a happy life when we derive pleasure and meaning while spending time with our love ones, or learning something new, or engaging in a project at work. The more our days are filled with these experiences, the happier we become. This is all there is to it.