Frederic Lenoir wrote a short book retitled HAPPINESS for English readers but originally entitled Du Bonheur: Un voyage philosophique for his French readers. In it, he moves his (me included) readers on a walk through this intriguing topic. For example, in chapter 1 he opens with a quote from Jean Giono (30 March 1895 – 8 October 1970) who was a French author who wrote works of fiction mostly set in the Provence region of France. Her offering was quite simple and sets the stage for subsequent chapters. Here is her thought.
There’s no human condition, however humble or wretched it may be, that doesn’t have a chance for happiness offered to it every day: to achieve it, all that one need is yourself.
In terms most of us fully understand there are differences in our happiness barometer.
When we are happy, or satisfied overall, there is a balance where our future expectations and our current feelings of calm and self-assuredness are solid, where we experience happiness. Conversely, when we are swamped, feeling overwhelmed and there is little life-work balance, we sense an abundance of instability or as Lenoir says “emotional or social failure”.
In the following few chapters, he drills down on how important pleasure is in the feeling of happiness, and how it differs not whether the individual seeking pleasure is a tyrant or a good human being. It is simply a critical element in the experience of happiness. Another thought he makes is that when sated with a great meal, as we eat, the happiness declines to the point whereby no matter what tempting delicacy is presented to us when we are full, the temptation of being happier with this treat is nonexistent. So happiness needs to be fed and we are the right people to make that happen going back to Jean Giono’s quote.
Another quote that asks us to appreciate or be grateful for what we have as we explore being happy, comes from the French philosopher, Voltaire.
“I have told myself a hundred times that I should be happy if I were as brainless as my neighbor, but yet I do not desire such happiness.”
He suggests that as much common sense as this seems to have, there is a lingering question. When being overwhelmed knocks on the door or the blissful do they experience unhappiness? The answer is yes. It appears there is no immunity from this because of a previous time of blissfulness.
Lenoir moves further on his journey of explaining happiness by quoting recent (last 30 years) sociological studies on happiness.
He summarized them with 3 distinct thoughts.
“There is a genetic predisposition to being happy. External conditions (geographical environment, place of residence, social standing, martal status, wealth or poverty, and so on) do not have much influence on the matter. We can be happier or less happy by modifying the perception we have of ourselves and of life, and by modifying our view of things, our thoughts, and our beliefs.”
Does money make us happy?
If you read no other chapter(s) read chapters 9 and 10. The short answer is no. Seneca the Younger, fully Lucius Annaeus Seneca and also known simply as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher. His quote says it all.
“No one will be happy if tormented by the thought of someone else who is happier.”
If you have been through our EQ Not IQ: Mastery™ program or witnessed any of our presentations, you know how diligent we are at explaining the biological impact that the chemistry of the brain has on us. We literally teach people how to change their brains so that they have a life experience that comes closer to experiencing happiness. Dr. Rick Hanson, is a neuroscientist, who offers practical self-help resources to overcome the brain’s negativity bias and find more happiness, self-worth, love, and peace in your life. Here is his quote to lead off chapter 10.
“If you can change your brain, you can change your life.”
In wrapping up this month’s lead article, we highly recommend that you watch the new movie Gifted. It is about a young girl who is gifted and is being raised by her uncle. Her mother, a suicide victim was tormented by her gift and she did not want her daughter to be exposed to the same challenge. In his attempt to steer her away from the notoriety that her being gifted was bringing to her, he took her to hospital for a special experience. After waiting for hours near the maternity door it opened and out danced a man who yells for everyone to hear, it’s a boy. The uncle leans over to her and whispers, to her that this what her mother wanted for her. To experience the joy of her gift for sure but to also balance it with the gift of happiness
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