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LINK BBC - Future - Why the quickest route to happiness may be to do nothing

Psychological research shows that the harder we strive to be happy, the less likely we are to achieve that goal.

By VictoriaNotes8
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At last, some psychologists get it. Striving a goal just out of reach (as most people are forced to) brings, although maybe a little more money, more unhappiness because they never get the joy of fulfillment.

Gert Level 7 Jan 19, 2019

BBC Big black cock?


To be honest, I found it hard to get through the article... mostly because "happiness" is an end goal for the lazy. Kinda like "I'll be happy WHEN..." Happiness is only a result of a culmination of many things that are trademarks of a long journey for hardworking people who want to make something of their lives; not the result of pleasure-seeking individuals who think ease is the path to bliss. As they say, it's the journey, not the destination that is most satisfying and fulfilling.

Or did I miss something?

Hominid Level 7 Dec 23, 2018

Not sure if you read the full article, but while you make a good point about the journey vs destination, and "I'll be happy WHEN", assuming that people don't achieve happiness because they're lazy or think ease is the path to bliss is off the mark. That's not what the article is about.


You took the time to look into this and post it and, surprise, surprise, I took the time to read it and reflect on how I feel (and, per usual, make notes – just call me JackNotes). First off, to me, happiness = pleasure. We/I seek to increase my pleasurable experiences and don’t think about a permanent general feeling. At my ‘stage of life’ and experience I think I have learned some things. I have a nice, easy, healthful life and what more could anyone ask. I strive for pleasure in many areas, physical, emotional, social, mental…
Happiness like pleasure is fleeting and comes and goes and is sometimes accompanied by sadness and pain, it’s called real life. ”…it can also seriously backfire for many people. …they may think they should be happy all the time…” the key word is many and it suggests not all.

I agree, the 3 items listed are a set up for disappointment. I also noted that my mother hated to travel because afterward it depressed her to come home and go back to the same, boring lifestyle.

“Self-focus might make me engage with other people less, and I might judge other people more negatively if I perceive them to ‘mess’ with my happiness,” Hmm, interesting in light of some of my comments/postings, don’t you dare step on my bubble. Self-focus, to me, is paramount to self-awareness and inner growth. ”social media makes us especially conscious of other people’s airbrushed lives, potentially increasing our desire to live a happier, more exciting life. He thinks we would be happier if we didn’t look to others to set our standards for what constitutes a good and meaningful life. “ I see this from a different perspective in that the media also shows how people are suffering and desperate. This gives me a perspective of how good I have it and makes me appreciate my good fortune.

I note the comment about exercise to boost happiness. The 10 exercises (mental) are also covered in the “Mind-Body Medicine” lectures by Dr. Satterfield. However, for me I need physical, strenuous exercises and being accompanied by music helps.

‘Grumpelstiltskin’ .”* []
You and probably many on this site have seen my cynical side. I refuse to live life in a bubble (there is a test for ones bubble rating and I did pretty good, meaning my bubble is small) and want to live in the ‘real’ world. Maybe that’s why I keep getting knocked off my path. I do not agree with the anger part and see this as counterproductive. Besides I think the angry part was written before tRump came on the scene.

Yes, I've definitely seen your cynical side, and you've seen mine. But to be honest, I could not live with or be close friends with someone who was predominately cynical and/or grumpy. From your article:

"All these physiological changes are extremely helpful – as long as you get a chance to vent your anger by wrestling a lion or screaming at co-workers. Sure, you might alienate a few people, but afterwards your blood pressure should go back to normal. Avoiding grumpiness has more serious consequences."

The article you shared makes some good points, but some things I question and I agree with you when you wrote: * I do not agree with the anger part and see this as counterproductive."

Many of the people (managers and some co-workers) I worked with before I went into business for myself tended to be screamers --- venting their anger on their employees or co-workers. That is about as unprofessional as you can get.

What I learned from these experiences was that the screamers were taking out their frustrations on their subordinates (or co-workers) when the real issues that caused the outburst of anger were not related to them (the employees (or co-workers). People may vent, and get a release, but it can often be at someone else's expense and well being.

Getting back the article I posted and addressing some of your comments:

You quote the article: “Self-focus might make me engage with other people less, and I might judge other people more negatively if I perceive them to ‘mess’ with my happiness,”

Jack writes "Self-focus, to me, is paramount to self-awareness and inner growth."

It can be but self-focus does not automatically spell an enlargement of one's general self-knowledge. Self-focus is not necessarily the same as introspection. One of the definitions for self-focus is "excessive concern for yourself." also gives an example: "SELF-FOCUS: "Joe had so much self-focus he could not see that Lyn needed him more each day."*

I tend to agree with much of the article (and outcome of the studies), based on personal experience. There is pressure to conform and compare, even when it's disadvantageous to oneself. Living in a conservative Christian culture where being unhappy signifies that one is out of the will of god, can also cause people to strive unrealistically.

Thank you for taking the time to read and re-read the article and share your thoughts.

@VictoriaNotes Thank you for taking the time and commenting on my comment. I looked up the definition of "self-focus" and another definition is: "A person's ability to analyze and evaluate their mental and emotive states." That is the one I want to deal with because living in a community/society and being a social animal I want to learn about all the things I need to know to fit in and be less paternalistic. Not engage with people less but more (like here on this site and preferably in person). To me self-focus is not about egotism but just the opposite. Semantics can really mess up communication.

I admit I am cynical about some things and feel it is a part of being critical thinking. BUT one eventually gets to a point where one has come to conclusions about issues and cynicism is no longer necessary.

So I see two articles one about happiness and one about grumpiness. They both promote a certain viewpoint. Are they both right, or one is right and one is wrong or both wrong. I think parts of both fit with some people but not all.

Holy Schmolly, no wonder I wake up at 4 AM with so many thoughts in my head (I am not being grumpy here). lol

@JackPedigo "To me self-focus is not about egotism but just the opposite. Semantics can really mess up communicatior."

I understand that's what it means to you, but the article was drawing attention to those who were too self-focus and it appeared to result in unhappiness. Gotta run for now.


BBC lol!


Good article, but in a way it is an example of what someone said of Henry James' habit of "making mountains out of molehills." Lao Tzu said it much more succinctly way back in the 6th century B.C: "If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on , you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you." I would also suggest that coming to grips with the truth that it's the journey that matters, and that's another way of saying live the present, the moments. Once one abandons the idea that one should worry about what happened in the past or what MIGHT happen in the future, neither of which we have any control over, the possibility for happiness suddenly becomes a reality.

Nicely stated.


For me, I've let go of trying to attain the life that society says would make me happy, because in pursuing it I was miserable. I wish I would have determined this earlier in my life, but it's never too late. Good article, thanks for sharing!

linxminx Level 7 Dec 22, 2018

I hear that! Thanks for taking the time to read the article.


How the f#ck can anyone be happy (except maybe for fleeting moments) if they even have a clue as to what is going on in the world these days & what is in store for the future?


Im getting pretty good at

Buddha Level 7 Dec 21, 2018

Striving for happiness just wears you out..
Striving for balance is healthier (IMO)
"The Path of a Taoist " Group

hippydog Level 7 Dec 21, 2018

Trying fruitlessly to sustain it, especially. Highs and lows are a natural part of life. Embracing that is healthy, IMO.

@VictoriaNotes LMAO You are going to think I am a bs'r but I guarantee I am not cunning enough to make things up (Parvin did all the time but she was a lot more spontaneous and smarter than I).
I was coming back from the gym and spotted a guy I thought I knew. I made a U turn and looked again and he was not the person. So I drove through the store parking lot turned onto the main road and then spotted him just crossing the side street and going to the main road. He stuck out his thumb (we encourage hitch hikers here and I have given people rides and heard interesting stories) so I stopped he said he was headed to Odlin Park, about 2 miles away. We got to talking and he said he was from Seattle but moved to Ohio but still spent a lot of time here. We got to the park and got to talking. I asked if he knew the ranger, David and he said he did. I told him I sometimes work with David and that Nick and I did a project last summer. He said he knew Nick and that he was the most outgoing and active person he knew. I mentioned that Nick claimed the he was an introvert and the guy, Ken, said that was funny. I then said that Nick said he thought he would be happy if he and Susie lived on a small, uninhabited island. Ken then said that he had a friend who told him that those people are the happiest that don't think!!! too funny.
I am going to reread your post and reply tomorrow but I had to share this.


Sounds rather wu-wei ish to me. ?

Amzungu2 Level 7 Dec 21, 2018

Please explain.

@VictoriaNotes As I read the article, that's what it reminded me of, the concept of wu wei. Similar sentiment using different linguistics.

@Amzungu2 That's what the studies found --- that some people had unrealistic expectations and were trying to strive for happiness and/or striving to always remain happy, which ended up leading to disappointment. The researchers found, based on the studies, that some subjects became judgemental and unaccepting of the negative things in their life, therefore they would berate themselves. Adopting an attitude of life's ups and downs as normal seems reasonable to me, rather than berating oneself, or struggling to always remain high on dopamine.

I failed to see woo in that but to each their own.

@VictoriaNotes Eeek, I fear you misunderstand my statement. Give me a minute... trying to figure out how to post a link in my comment.


@Amzungu2 Oh my goodness, my apologies. I thought that perhaps wu wei was another way of saying woo woo, which is why I was hoping you'd clarify when I asked you to explain. Thanks for clearing that up and for the article. I wasn't familiar with the term. smile001.gif

@VictoriaNotes Haha, I realized that when you used the term woo. Admittedly I had to google that one to be sure what it actually meant, but I'd heard it enough to know it wasn't good and definitely not what I intended. I'm fascinated with the concept of wu-wei and try to stay mindful of it. I've had good results by letting go of my perceived control in many aspects of life, and try harder to be at least as mindful of the moment as I am the past and future. It is what it is, and will be what it will be. That's good enough for me.

@Amzungu2 I have too, and I agree. I have applied these concepts through trial and error through the years but didn't realize there was an actual name for it. Out of necessity, I just did what was effective for me, and worked at being consistent. As the neurological saying goes, what wires together fires together.

@VictoriaNotes my apologies for the initial confusion. I tend to forget that it is often difficult to distinguish my sincerity from my sarcasm. I'm working on it. ?

@Amzungu2 Haha, no apologies necessary, and I can relate. I'm a work in progress, too.

@Amzungu2 I am taking a series of courses called "Mind-Body Medicine" from the Great Courses series. The other night in one of the sections the lecturer, Dr. James Satterfield, UCSF mentioned Wu Wei and suggested we look it up. I went to your link and agree. I noted "...happiness will find you when you do things you enjoy." This fits in with what I just commented, to me, happiness = pleasure. Thanks for the link.

@Amzungu2 Welcome to the club. Maybe we should start a "sarcasm" group.

@JackPedigo I'm glad you enjoyed the article. ?

@Amzungu2 Yes, it made me "happy" lol

@JackPedigo I find a lot of valuable wisdom within the Eastern philosophies. I highly recommend it as a subject of exploration. Stay happy!

@Amzungu2 Where does one start? I know about Feng Sui but that is about all.

@JackPedigo Here's a good one from Great Courses

@Amzungu2 Thank you for this tip. My problem with the Great Courses is that once I order something I get inundated with ads for more courses. I recently discovered that our library has a lot of these courses (I may donate the 2 that I have). So I will check there.


I found the only way to ‘win the game’ was to stop playing smile001.gif Did, or stopped that decades ago.. Couldn’t tell anyone, who’d understand? But it worked, I actually won. ‘Now’ feels like extra innings...

Varn Level 8 Dec 21, 2018

People make me happy. I've got rid of most all the toys etc that I used as subjects of happiness. They didn't work. Problem is that i have good friends but none of them live anywhere NEAR me. Lol. So I live unhappy almost 24/7. Depression has been a constant battle for about 12 yrs now. I stay depressed and unhappy because I am lonely I guess, or alone, or whatever. Lol. I am a runner etc, this activity helps keep my stress and depression at bay. But not for long. Happines. Yes I strive for it. But never seem to acquire it very often.

tyodaman Level 3 Dec 21, 2018

Loneliness can be very difficult. I'm sorry about your situation. I experienced depression and loneliness when I lost my social network and marriage as a result of deconverting from Christianity and god belief. Interestingly enough, I also experience relief that I didn't always have to be happy, as though I wasn't a good Christian if I wasn't. I'm glad you have found ways to keep your stress and depression at bay. Thank you for sharing.


I believe that. At age 81, Il enjoy doing simple things and spending time with my loving wife/

wordywalt Level 8 Dec 21, 2018

It's actually very nice when you can afford to do nothing. How do you accomplish that? We all have financial responsibilities. We need to earn money to sustain our basic needs. However, with a little bit of planning and good simple common sense, even a tight budget can permit to allocate leisure time to do just that, absolutely nothing. My point is, you cannot enjoy doing nothing without having done something.... same as, you can't rest if you are not tired to begin with, you can't clean something without having something else messy. Life is about complementary activities. Work versus leisure is one of those.

IamNobody Level 8 Dec 21, 2018

Read the full article when you can find the time. It said nothing about sitting around and waiting for money to fall out of the sky.

@VictoriaNotes Ok, you caught me with my hand in the cookie jar... I didn't read the article. I will when I get to that. In the mean time, I didn't understand your comment on sitting around waiting for money to fall out of the sky..... you're not implying that I imply that, are you?. Because I don't think I did. Anyhow, I will read it sometime tonight. Cheers

@IamNobody It was predominately about expectations, striving, loneliness, and feelings of failer for not always remaining happy and contentment.

Here's a sneak peek:

"The problem, says Maglio, is that happiness is something of a nebulous and moving goal – it’s very difficult to feel that you’ve reached maximum happiness and even if you do feel content, you want to prolong those feelings. The result is that you are always left with more to do. “Happiness devolves from something pleasant that I can enjoy right now, to something burdensome that I have to keep working at over and over and over,” Maglio says.
Mauss, meanwhile, points out that a lot of research has found that people who take a more “accepting” attitude to negative feelings – rather than constantly trying to fight them as the enemy of our wellbeing – actually end up more satisfied with their life over the long-term. “When you are striving to be happy, you may become judgemental and unaccepting of negative things in your life… you almost berate yourself for feelings that are incompatible with happiness,” she says. For these reasons, she advises adopting a more stoic attitude to life’s ups and downs, in which you accept bad feelings as fleeting events rather than trying to eliminate them entirely.

"None of this is to deny that some small tricks – such as keeping a “gratitude journal” and practicing kindness to others – do increase your wellbeing, particularly if they cause you to recognise your contentment in the here and now."


" Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness" by Zhuangzi. There is a pub in England with a sign above the bar that states: "Free Beer Tomorrow." In over one hundred years of being in business they have never had to give a free beer to anyone, tomorrow never arrives. Postponing your sense or experience of happiness until you achieve this or that degree or goal is no better than living in a fool's paradise..smile001.gif

Every state of being has it's polar opposite, that is, complementary state and is exemplified by the principle of complementarity. Neils Bohr who was a good friend of Albert Einstein understood the principle of complementarity and when he was awarded a Coat of Arms by the Royal Danish Court for his contribution to physics he chose the Chinese Yin Yang symbol

Doing nothing is not merely the absence of outward action but also implies a calm or serene state of mind. If you are sitting in a chair and many thoughts are passing through your mind and you are mulling things over or indulging in imagined states of affairs or scenarios then it cannot be said of you that you are doing nothing.

ASTRALMAX Level 7 Dec 21, 2018

I concur, and LOL about the Free Beer Tomorrow sign.


being happy all the time would suck. contentedness with a plan.....?

hankster Level 9 Dec 21, 2018

Money doesn't buy happiness but it sure buys a lot of time to do nothing.

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