A new playbook for happiness

Happy Independence day, friends!

There’s a simple playbook for happiness. One we’ve been taught since we were kids.

Study hard. Get a good job. Climb the ladder. Make a bunch of money.

And then you’ll be happy.

So why do so many of us feel unfulfilled, lost and rudderless?

This week on The Examined Life Podcast, we’re joined by Stephanie Harrison, an expert on the psychology of happiness and the author of New Happy.

We ask the question:

What do we get wrong about happiness?

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My top 3 takeaways

The myth of individualism

In the Old Happy paradigm of success, people pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They are self-made. Rugged individualism is required and you must beat others to win. But the reality? Any form of success has been enabled by the efforts of others.

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Happiness isn’t zero-sum

Have you ever felt the pang of jealousy when someone landed the promotion or took two weeks in Bora Bora? I’ve been there. And it comes from a strong sense of competition. But when you have a sense of love and connection, the success of others is really your success.

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Healing is a team sport

A famous line in the Bible says, “Physician, heal thyself.” When we turn to self-help books, therapy or that shiny new meditation practice, we’re trying to heal ourselves by our self. The problem is, healing requires others.

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My favorite quote: Deep down, who are you?

That's who we are deep down, right? We think that there's something wrong with our cores, that we're horrible and flawed and broken and twisted and evil and all that stuff. And we put up that armor. But all that's doing is just getting in the way of being and expressing our loving good nature. And it's there, however you can access it, whatever helps you to get in touch with it. That's what really matters.

Why this episode matters to me

I spent my life pursuing good grades and scaling the corporate ladder.

Every promotion (and night of bottle service) was supposed to make me happy.

But it never did. This approach to happiness arises from zero-sum thinking — and makes you climb over others as you move towards the “top.”

I’ve realized that I love helping others (I am a big squishy love ball, after all). And I love working together to achieve something.

It turns out that serving others and showing up with a kind open heart is a more fulfilling path to happiness than chasing things.

If you want to dig deeper

The stresses of achievement culture lead me to walk away from a $2 million salary. It turns out, I was playing the wrong game. Old me loved competition, but I’ve realized that it’s not exactly good for you. What is good for you? Groundswells of generosity.

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Hope you enjoy the episode,


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