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This is a huge topic, as long term happiness is what we’re really all after. It’s not money, power, fame, cars, houses, holidays etc, the end goal is always the same; positive emotions. It’s the positive emotions associated with all of those things.
Health is the absolute baseline requirement for happiness. Once it goes, happiness goes. Older guys – listen up!
There’s a lot of people who write about happiness being selfish which I feel is very misguided. It’s insane actually. “There is more to life than happiness, you need meaning and fulfilment.”
I agree that meaning, purpose and fulfilment are all very important. But once you find meaning to your life, what do you then experience as a result of finding meaning? Contentment. Satisfaction. And what are they? Positive emotions.
It’s all the same. What people really want is positive emotions. I think certain personality types (and *cough* genders *cough* )also want some negative emotions to some degree, which sounds insane. But I think short lived negative emotions may also be required for growth and learning, specifically learning from failures. However, if you’re consistently unhappy, then that’s different – it’s definitely not a good thing.
As long as these negatives are relatively short lived, teach you something important, and the vast majority of the time you are very happy then that’s great. Your baseline (average) happiness levels being as high as possible is what we are all after.
Those who write about pursuing happiness as being a selfish thing I believe are confusing genuine happiness with short term happiness and chasing the next short term “sugar rush”. They are also correct if the happiness is directly affecting others people’s happiness for the worse.
But long term happiness is rarely at the expense of others. Helping others is actually a key component of long term happiness. Short term happiness or sugar rushes are normally materialistic things. Sometimes some of these things can be good, especially if used sparingly and used as tactical rewards for yourself.
Long term happiness includes things such as health. In fact, this is the absolute baseline requirement. If your health goes, your happiness goes. People sink into depression, particularly if their mobility is compromised. Luckily, most of the western world does ok in regards to health, however, as you age, this will get worse for you.
This sounds stupidly obvious. But research has found that positive events on income such as winning the lottery actually have little correlation with long term baseline happiness levels.
Admittedly, I suspect that what you do with the money has a large impact on whether or not it improves your baselines levels of happiness. But it more or less “proves” the point that people largely adapt to income increases.
This is partly due to the fact that most people are bad with money. Materialistic stuff is a temporary hit of happiness, and most people will waste their money on stuff that doesn’t actually make them any happier at all. The latest gadgets would be a prime example of this.
It’s also partly due to social comparisons and reference points. So you tend to start comparing yourself to other rich people and things they have that you don’t etc. Not good.
It would be interesting to record long term happiness levels with those who invested the money and/or spent it on experiences involving other people who are close to them, as opposed to physical purchases.
But back onto the topic of health…
If we are to apply this to health and fitness, on a more micro level we can see how this impacts our long term happiness. We have established that health is important to long term happiness, so it stands to reason to make sure we do all we can to minimise the risk of anything majorly bad happening to us in regards to our health.
As always this is mainly diet. Make sure your diet is decent. This means first and foremost the calorie balance is on point. I.e not a huge deficit or surplus. It should also be about 80% “clean” or micro-nutrient dense.
The 2 other major factors are of course training and sleep. Make sure you are doing some form of exercise at least 3 times per week and getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
If you make sure these 3 areas are on track consistently in the long run, you will have one crucial element nailed down for long term happiness. So many people mess up their health in some way, shape or form though.
There are other factors that will impact health too, such as TRT for some of you older guys, and an absence of drugs/alcohol for the younger guys.
When we fail in one of the 3 key factors for health (diet, sleep or exercise) we all feel less happy.
Think about days whereby we’ve only had 3 hours of sleep the night before, or eat nothing but junk food for 2 days, or not exercised in over a week. You feel like crap.
If we minimise all this stuff, we maximise our long run happiness potential.