Will reading this make you happy?

Are you happy? The perennial question that never fails to ignite a debate. It’s day four of Ramadan and I wonder to myself: does fasting make me happy? Would I be happier eating an ice cream and sipping a cold beverage right now?

It depends. The best way I’ve found to frame my thinking has been Paul Dolan’s ‘Happiness By Design’. In it he talks about the Pleasure Purpose Principle. We derive happiness dependent on our predilection to either pleasure or purpose. If matters of pleasure make us happy (e.g. fancy meals or watching TV) then we should upweight them. If matters of purpose provide us with happiness (e.g. volunteering for charity) then more of those will bring a smile to our faces. Dolan argues that it’s about finding the balance – the design – to work out what works for you. Fasting brings a great deal of purpose and so I continue.

That leads into the first of this week’s articles I’ve been reading to start my week smarter. Why it’s easier to describe ‘what makes us happy’ than answer the question ‘what is happiness?’. What you really need to know is while we aspire to being happy—whatever this adjective may mean for us—we realize that happiness is something subtle, complex and volatile, and seems totally random.

And so to article two. A guide to meditation. I’ve been following the Headspace appsince the beginning of the year and have been getting better at being present, but boy is it hard. It helps that we have weekly yoga sessions at Triptease, but truly being in the moment, not thinking about the past and not being consumed by the future is much harder than it seems. The most important thing to do is to take the first step and attempt some form of mindfulness (even if you think it’s just hype). So read the handy guide linked in this paragraph.

And finally. Ever had that feeling that you finally got the thing you’ve always wanted and it turns out having it is nothing like wanting it? A thought provoking article on the value of youth and why it may be best spent wasted. Pair that with the most common mistakes young people make to help you realise (if you’re a so-called ‘millennial’ at least) that there are thousands of people who have gone before you, have learnt the lessons you are yet to face, and have gotten to the other side unscathed. Often we forget to step back and realise that.

That’s it for this week. On a side note, it’s been interesting to see more mainstream media coverage of Ramadan this year. Here are a few articles I recommend if you don’t know much about the holy month for Muslims:

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