If we just directed our attention towards it

When are humans most happy?

An App On The Search For The Secret To Happiness
February 15, 2014

social scientist Matt Killingsworth, who has developed the Happy App.

KILLINGSWORTH: So when I look across all the different activities that people engage in, they are universally happier when they’re fully engaged in that activity and not mind wandering, no matter what they’re doing.

RAZ: Even when you’re doing something you dislike like your morning commute, it’s better when you are in the moment, when your mind isn’t wandering.

KILLINGSWORTH: So we spend time worrying or having repetitive thoughts or escaping or disengaging from things we could really enjoy if we just directed our attention towards it.

RAZ: How do you do that? Like, how do you get to that place?

KILLINGSWORTH: That’s the million-dollar question. And I don’t know the answer.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Express gratitude

The Emotional Life of Your Brain
Forbes. July 07, 2014

Our personalities, thought patterns and emotional responses are wired into our brains, says Richard Davidson, Ph.D., author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain, but you can change your brain. Here are several exercises that will help rewire the neural pathways to help you think more positively, become more self-aware, focus better, understand social cues, ease your emotional triggers and grow more resilient:

1. Make Your Home And Workspace Optimistic

2. Express Gratitude
Davidson says expressing gratitude regularly will help you feel more optimistic. Make the effort to look someone in the eyes and say “thank you,” and keep a journal to daily remind yourself of what’s good in your life.

3. Compliment others
By finding and making opportunities to compliment others, you’ll train your brain to see the good in people, in life and in yourself, says Davidson.

4. Pay Attention To Body Language
If you’d like to become more socially intuitive and good at dealing with people, Davidson suggests making an effort to watch people’s body language while in public and try to guess what emotions they are expressing. Then, start to take notice of friends and colleague’s facial cues and body language and how it corresponds to their tone of voice.

5. Identify Emotional Triggers
If you’d like to be less emotionally reactive and more tuned in to context, Davidson advises regularly making a list of the specific events or behaviors that triggered your response. Then spend about 15 minutes thinking about these behaviors while breathing deeply until you feel comfortable and more relaxed.

6. Do A Mindfulness Meditation
a new book on the topic:



Send thank-you notes to those who help you along the way
13 June 2019


Beyond the hedonic treadmill model (2006)

Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being.
Am Psychol. 2006 May-Jun;61(4):305-14.
Diener E, et al.

According to the hedonic treadmill model, good and bad events temporarily affect happiness, but people quickly adapt back to hedonic neutrality.
The theory, which has gained widespread acceptance in recent years, implies that individual and societal efforts to increase happiness are doomed to failure.
The recent empirical work outlined here indicates that 5 important revisions to the treadmill model are needed.
First, individuals’ set points are not hedonically neutral.
Second, people have different set points, which are partly dependent on their temperaments.
Third, a single person may have multiple happiness set points: Different components of well-being such as pleasant emotions, unpleasant emotions, and life satisfaction can move in different directions.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, well-being set points can change under some conditions.
Finally, individuals differ in their adaptation to events, with some individuals changing their set point and others not changing in reaction to some external event.
These revisions offer hope for psychologists and policy-makers who aim to decrease human misery and increase happiness.

Comment in:
On the importance of distinguishing hedonia and eudaimonia when contemplating the hedonic treadmill. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Comment on Diener, Lucas, and Scollon (2006). “Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being”. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Hedonic treadmill

Salary Level May Not Indicate Contentment
December 16, 2005

Mr. CLEMENTS: the research says is that there’s this youth curve in happiness.
You know, people tend to be reasonably happy in their 20s, they get less and less happy through their 30s, they hit bottom in their 40s, and then they tend to rebound from there.

MONTAGNE: Here’s something that’s interesting, something called the `hedonic treadmill,’ having to do with hedonism, right?

Mr. CLEMENTS: Right. I mean, the notion is that, you know, we all think, `OK, you know, if only we were richer, we’d be happier.
If only we got that next pay raise, we’d be happier.’ But what happens is you tend to get used to it after a while and so, you know, the boost to your happiness tends to fade away and after a couple of months you may feel little or no better off.

MONTAGNE: If it isn’t a pay raise or something kind of specific in time that can get you back to feeling happy, if you will, or content, what are the things that economics researchers and sociologists say will return you to a state of feeling content?

Mr. CLEMENTS: … one of the things that seems to have the biggest negative impact on people’s sense of well-being is a long commute.
Another thing that seems to be important is having job flexibility...
The other key thing is friends are a huge boost to happiness. If you spend your time seeing friends on a regular basis, you have a close-knit group of friends, that can really, really help.

What Makes Us Happy At Work?
University of Kent

Hedonic treadmill

theme cited by:
University of Pennsylvania

What is it called the analogous phenomenon in:
– student motivation?
– epistemic curiosity?
– love?


Rick Hanson: Hardwiring Happiness

IdeaSphere: 131216
‎‎December ‎20, ‎2013

Hardwiring Happiness: Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson has a different way of looking at the functions of the brain and our inherent tendency to focus on the negative.
What he’s realized is that simply using positive thinking isn’t the answer. Neither is the practice of mindfulness.
He says you have to rewire your brain.

Kurzweil > Books

Is it better to be right or to be happy?

Being right or being happy: pilot study
BMJ 2013 (December 2013);347:f7398

The intervention was for the male to agree with his wife’s every opinion and request without complaint.
Even if he believed the female participant was wrong, the male was to bow and scrape.

The data safety monitoring committee stopped the study because of severe adverse outcomes after 12 days. By then the male participant found the female participant to be increasingly critical of everything he did.
The situation had become intolerable by day 12.

The results of this trial show that the availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end.

“I no longer try to be right; I choose to be happy.”

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
Penguin Books; Revised & Expanded edition (February 24, 2009)

An Economist Best Book of the Year

“For fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, a revelatory new look at how we make decisions” Amazon.com

Nudge is about choices-how we make them and how we can make better ones.
Authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make- including ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources, and other bad decisions.
Citing decades of cutting-edge behavioral science research, they demonstrate that sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people towards the best decisions without restricting their freedom of choice.
Straightforward, informative, and entertaining, this is a must-read for anyone with interest in our individual and collective well-being.

listed in:

Episode 803: Nudge, Nudge, Nobel
November 1, 2017

The Ethics of Nudging
TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
March 6, 2016

Renting vs. Buying a Home: The 5% Rule

Vishen Lakhiani: World’s Greatest Workplace

World’s Greatest Workplace: Vishen Lakhiani at TEDxAjman
Sep 10, 2012

Vishen Lakhiani is the co-founder of Mindvalley — a ground-breaking company comprised of innovators, artists, technologist and dreamers from over 30 countries around the world.

Founded in 2003, Vishen’s vision for Mindvalley was to build a company whose mission was to bring enlightenment and personal growth to the world in a scalable way using a hybrid of marketing and technology.

see also:

cited by:

‘Imperfect Harmony’: How Singing With Others Changes Your Life

‘Imperfect Harmony’: How Singing With Others Changes Your Life
June 03, 2013


making music vs. listening

Daniel Levitin, psychology professor at McGill University, and author of This Is Your Brain on Music, joins the conversation to explain the science of group singing.


this I believe: Brian Eno

this I believe
Singing: The Key To A Long Life
by Brian Eno
November 23, 2008

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, … and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life.
Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.

psychological benefits: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness.
And then there are what I would call “civilizational benefits.” When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community.
That’s one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

You want songs that are word-rich, but also vowel-rich because it’s on the long vowels sounds of a song such as “Bring It On Home To Me” (“You know I’ll alwaaaaays be your slaaaaave”), that’s where your harmonies really express themselves. And when you get a lot of people singing harmony on a long note like that, it’s beautiful.

the other thing that you have to harmonize besides pitch and rhythm is tone.
To be able to hit exactly the same vowel sound at a number of different pitches seems unsurprising in concept, but is beautiful when it happens.

Eno’s Group-Sing Song List:

Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)
Love Me Tender
Keep On the Sunny Side
Sixteen Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken

If I Had a Hammer
Love Hurts
I’ll Fly Away
Down By the Riverside
Chapel of Love
Wild Mountain Thyme
Que Sera, Sera

Cotton Fields