In an Introduction to Psychology course at Yale University, professor Paul Bloom points out three keys to sustainable happiness. Though people may be feel happy from a kind word, a new car, good news, the lottery, etc., the effects are fleeting. Within six months of either good news or bad news, ups or downs, people tend to return right back to their original core level of happiness. In most cases, this transient happiness or “pleasure” rarely lasts more than a few moments or days.
Sustainable happiness, happiness that is more permanent, unchangeable from external events, come from three keys: good friends, good family, and long-term projects.
Knowing this framework simplifies the thing every human wants most: happiness. The one that is most in our control is our long-term projects. As Earl Nightingale suggested, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Happiness equals progress over time.
Consider what long-term project you’re working on. What project gives your life meaning? Even if the project is gardening or playing guitar, we can see the happiest people around us are working on long-term projects. What’s yours?
Maybe the most simple and profound way this was encouraged was by Joseph Campbell’s suggestion to all: “Follow your bliss.”