If you're constantly pursuing happiness, you're chasing a moving target. Why? Because it's definition changes as you age.
By sifting through more than 12 million individual blog entries and dissecting the language writers used to discuss their life and feelings, we're able to show that the definition of happiness shifts profoundly and predictably over time.
Just think back when you were much younger as a kid. A Mcdonald's happy meal or a trip to the playground probably made you happy. Now imagine when you were a teen. A tiny happy meal wouldn't fill you up and you've lost all interest for that kid's toy. What's more, you'll stick out like a sore thumb if seen waiting for your turn on the slide with the other toddlers at the jungle gym.
I'm sure you see the obvious point here. What made you happy in the past, may or may not give you that same euphoric feeling as you get on. How to achieve happiness likewise diverges hugely as well.
Here's the results of our research, the 5 stages of happiness.
The story opens with us in our teens when, as you would surely recall vividly, we tend to feel secluded, indeterminate, and frequently overlooked as we battle to define our objectives. At this stage, "when happiness is felt, it's experienced as excitement," the research uncovers.
Life wasn't as serious in your teens. We had ample amounts of time to occupy ourselves with relatively affordable activities such as:
- Extreme sports
- Video games
- Attending parties
- Road trips
It was a soul searching stage in life when we learned and tried new things at a great pace. Some can even argue that it was the best time of their life.
By our mid-20s, the vast majority of us have already figured out our objectives in life and we venture out to conquer the world in the way we've chosen is important for us. Around this time the meaning of happiness changes. At this stage, happiness is experienced when we feel successful and accomplished, particularly when recognised by others.
We're all naturally driven and determined to prove ourselves to others at this age. Our competitive spirit pushes us, for example, climbing the corporate ladder chasing promotion after promotion till we get to the top. The entrepreneur in all of us comes alive as well. Our minds constantly produce radical ideas of businesses to start so that we can put our mark in the world.
As we move further into our 30s, the meaning of happiness changes once again. Happiness turns out to be more connected with balance. We begin to concentrate more on our families and the wellbeing and energy levels of our recently aging bodies.
The famous term of 'settling down' comes into play at this point of our lives. We start chasing a balance and stability in life.
- Getting married
- Having kids
- Exercising regularly
- Watching you diet
- Making sure you get enough rest
- Lesser time spent in the office
As you approach and then move into your 40s, happiness gets to be associated with a growing sense of meaning that comes along with raising a family. A feeling of spirituality and community, and an acknowledgment of the effect we can have in the world. This is the quaint notion that we give time over to relationships and shared experiences.
In the last stage, happiness is fixed to feeling content and connected, where we acknowledge what we've accomplished and what we have. This feeling of appreciation just develops into our 50s and 60s when happiness turns out to be progressively associated with feeling calm, fortunate, and blessed.
If there's one thing the world needs, it'll more people like bestselling author and international speaker Andrew Matthews. He's an expert in 'Happiness'. Sounds funny doesn't it? But he truly is.
Catch Andrew Matthews live at the first ever Chinese National Achievers Congress here in Singapore this coming 29-30 October! The topic of wealth and its relationship to happiness is complicated but when paired with some interesting doodles, Andrew will entertain and fascinate any audience.
Happiness is more than an emotion.
It is a way of living.
It is not something made.
It comes from your own actions.
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