Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
We're coming to the end of the year.
We're full of resolution and resolutions.
If there's one thing we're going to focus on in 2019, it's being happy.
Happiness is hard. Something always seems to get in the way. Life, for example.
But we know what'll make us happy, don't we? Success, being admired and living worry-free.
Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman -- oh, why didn't his parents call him Denial? -- insists you're full of it.
You don't actually want to be happy at all, he contends.
In a recent episode of Conversations With Tyler, Kahneman explained that people really don't want to -- or even try to -- maximize their happiness:
They actually want to maximize their satisfaction with themselves and with their lives. And that leads in completely different directions than the maximization of happiness.
Now doesn't that sound like so many people you know? Including you, perhaps?
Being satisfied that you've achieved a certain status, a certain monetary level and a certain station in life is what makes you feel happy, right?
Or does it?
How many times do people reach their so-called goals and feel emptier than a winter beach?
Yet what so many people claim to be happiness is merely, Kahneman says, that feeling of inner smugness that you've made it.
Kahneman has a particular notion of what happiness is. He said:
Happiness feels good in the moment. But it's in the moment. What you're left with are your memories. And that's a very striking thing -- that memories stay with you, and the reality of life is gone in an instant.
You can't be happy over time? It seems not.
Kahneman believes that what humans are really doing is investing in memories. Vacations are a prime example of this.
Asked whether people should aim to deliberately structure their experiences so that the end result is more happiness, he offered:
Well, if you want good memories, good endings are really important.
Nervous, slightly morbid laughter, anyone?
Kahneman's research shows that people are happy when they're with their friends, but they don't do it as often as they'd like. Why? Because they're really pursuing self-satisfaction.
Indeed, this truth he found so moving that he left the study of happiness behind. He explained:
One of the reasons that I actually left the field of happiness, in that I was very interested in maximizing experience, but this doesn't seem to be what people want to do.
It's a pungent view of human existence.
We're desperately trying to be happy with ourselves, because we believe that's what'll make us happy.
Yet, I fear, if you ask people when they were at their happiest, they'll talk about childhood, or perhaps some giddily silly time they spent with friends or lovers.
Enough, then, with this happiness thing.
It's only going to make you unhappy if you focus on it.
Instead, concentrate on achieving that inner smugness you've been craving.
You'll be happier that way.