by James Wallace Harris, Saturday, April 29, 2017
Each day, the Internet now offers me more lists on how-to-be-happier than funny-cat-videos. That’s ironic since funny-cat-videos make me happy.
In recent years it seems that “12 Ways To …” is the lowest common denominator of journalistic seduction, whether its for newspaper, magazine, webpage, blog, or social networking readers. Evidently the quickest way to grab someone’s attention is to entice them with a list.
I wish I had a computer program that would collect advice lists on various topics and statistically analyze them for the most popular pieces of wisdom. Then I could ignore this whole category of journalism. I’ve theorized that if I stopped reading about Donald Trump and self-improvement lists I’d have time to read two quality novels each week instead.
How many people actually follow self-improvement advice? And if we did, would that advice work? I use a program called Instapaper to track what I read online and have collected 35 essays with 621 pieces of advice. It’s fascinating how many recommendations overlap. You’d think everyone would be 100% happy by now, and very productive.
I’m naturally a happy person, but I have several friends that suffer from depression. I sometimes forward these articles, but I’m not sure if they are helpful. Can willpower overcome genes and hormones? As I read more of them I realized some of the advice did apply to me. I never feel depressed, but I do feel regrets. Emotionally, I’m as happy as a drooling pug reading, writing, listening to music and watching TV. However, I have lingering regrets about not doing more. That’s why I tell people I’m a Puritanical Atheist – I feel guilty if I don’t spend a portion of each day accomplishing something, no matter how small.
Many of these lists appear to equate success, productivity, and creativity with happiness. I’ve often thought my natural state of contentedness keeps me from working harder at my ambitions. So I started reading these lists for tips on improving my productivity. I assume I’d be happier if I got more done, and regret less about not finishing all the projects I fantasize about doing. However, some advice is geared towards unhappy productive people. They are told to relax and do less. That makes me wonder if I did more would I be unhappier?
I could have gathered lists for any area of self-help that I wanted. Such lists are overly abundant on the net. I wonder when the trend will collapse? At some point I think everyone will get tired reading about Donald Trump and numbered advice lists.
I realize that by gathering this meta-list of lists I’m only playing into the trend. Gotcha! Well, I hope you find some good advice. My takeaway is I need to go to sleep earlier, get up earlier, focus, avoid distractions, and reduce my goals to as few as possible. I’m not sure, but I did’t Benjamin Franklin make that list over 200 years ago?
The Wisdom of Happiness
- If You Want to Be Truly Happy, Stop Worrying About These 24 Things in Your Life
- 15 Inconvenient Truths About Life No One Wants to Admit
- 100 Inspiring Relationship Quotes That You Shouldn’t Miss
- 8 Powerful Lessons By The Dalai Lama That’ll Make You See Things in a Whole New Way
- 30 Profound Quotes From Eckhart Tolle That Will Change the Way You Spend Your Life
- 25 Enlightening Quotes From Thich Nhat Hanh That Will Change Your Perspective on Life
- 2 Big Lessons From the Biggest Happiness Study Ever Conducted
- Want to Be Happy? Stop Doing These 10 Things
- 4 Keys to Increase Your Happiness As You Get Older
- 7 Brutal But Powerful Lessons People Often Learn Too Late in Life
- 15 Profound Zen Sayings That Will Make You Question Everything About Life
- 4 Questions that Will Change Your Attitude (When You Can’t Change Anything Else)
- 8 Things Happy People Do Every Morning, According to a Mindfulness Expert
- 10 Success lessons from JK Rowling – “Billionaire Author” for entrepreneurs
- 35 Things You’ll Regret Doing in Life
- 12 Top-Secret Tips From the Happiest Couples in the World
- 12 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late in Life
- Here Are 11 Habits That Psychologists Have Linked With Happiness
- 25 Beautiful Zen and Tibetan Buddhism Quotes That Will Change Your Perspective on Life
- 8 Types of Toxic People Who Will Rob You of Your Happiness
- Want to be happy and successful? Try compassion
- Stop Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop and Start Living Fully
- This Simple Daily Habit Will Make Your Day Better
- 7 Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life
- 10 Things Successful People Do to Solve Their Daily Problems
- 5 Ways Mindfulness Helps You Confront The Fear Of Death, As Proven By Science
- 4 Ways to Train Yourself to Be Mentally Tougher
- 52 Ways You Can Be Kinder to Yourself
- 10 Things I’ve Let Go and How This Has Set Me Free
- 9 Tips in Life that Lead to Happiness
- 14 Tips for Happiness in Daily Life
- Daily Happiness: 13 Simple Ways to Find it in Your Life
- 67 Tips on Happiness, Fulfillment & Life
- The Pope’s 10 tips for happiness
- Handbook for Life: 52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity