Some ideas of interest:
First, we need to stop thinking about happiness as a single monolithic concept. There are different kinds of happiness — and some are more fulfilling and long-term than others:
- Short-term happiness: Psychologists refer to this as “hedonic” happiness, derived from the ancient Greek word for pleasure. This kind of gratification is brief and shallow; Ellen describes it as “tequila shot” happiness.
- Long-term happiness: There’s also a deeper, lasting fulfillment known as “eudaimonic” happiness. Also from Greek, eudaimonia translates into “well-being.” This is the kind of happiness that we feel when we are truly at peace with our lives and ourselves.
Happiness & Tech?
Who would we be if we weren’t bombarded by technology all of the time?Ellen Petry Leanse
Our ubiquitous connection to digital spaces has revolutionized our lives, but we are also beginning to see the dark side of these interactions.
Uncontrolled consumption of technology is increasingly monopolizing our attention, and diverting us from our intentions. All individuals, especially youth, are increasingly becoming data points of innovations and algorithms that seek to mine your data and attention in order to sell you ads or worse. For those that recognize these trends, we seem unable, or unwilling to stop.
Our time and attention are the new economy and some of the corporations and developers that built these digital spaces and places that captured our attention now express misgivings about what they have created.
Loneliness, Depression, failed critical thinking skills, and lack of empathy are some of the undesirable outcomes of information technology. Millions lose sleep, motivation, and focus as digital tools constantly poke us with notifications that were initially supposed to make us more productive.
Ellen indicates that there are several factors that are keeping us from being happy as we interact with digital environments.
- Our brains are constantly scanning our environments to keep us safe. You random funny images while zombie-scrolling Instagram doesn’t connect with the rest of your life.
- We need to disconnect and go offline. We need time away from consumption to allow for processing.
- We’re easily driven by social rewards. We’re proverbial rats in a Skinnerian box…but we don’t even get cheese. We get more notifications.
What we need is a balanced approach for all producers and consumers of digital places, spaces, and tools.
Make Happiness Happen
If we want to prioritize eudaimonic happiness over the hedonic kind, we have to make some changes to our lives. Ellen offers three ways to make happiness happen:
- Connectedness – Unplug and spend time with humans offline.
- Acts of kindness – Offer some kindness to others and pay it forward.
- Self-nurturing growth – Sharpen your saw and find opportunities for self-improvement.
…happiness is not a destination, but a way of traveling.Ellen Petry Leanse