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The Second Secret to Extreme Happiness

July 14, 2009

This week I’m exploring the secrets to extreme happiness based off a list of the happiest, most gratifying, most joyous, most awestruck experiences of my life. You can read more about the premise here and the first entry in the series here.

The second category I’m going to talk about is where these experiences happen. There are a lot of different places that experiences of extreme happiness happen, so I tried to consolidate them as much as possible. See the chart below.

whereI ordered the locations from left to right based on proximity to home, home itself being the closest and abroad being the farthest away. (Also, to clarify, “theater” refers to movie theaters.)

There’s a broader range of data than in yesterday’s analysis, but it’s easy to see which results are prevalent and which are not. Some of these results were really surprising to me. For example, look at the disparity between work and school. Looking at the data, you’d think that I loved school and am miserable at work, right? Quite the opposite. I love working. I spent so much time in school learning a vast number of things that have no relevance in my life, often paying a pretty sum for that knowledge. It’s not that I don’t love learning; it’s rather that I’ve learned so much more post-college than I ever did before I graduated. At least, that’s how I view things. And yet I had more extremely happy experiences in school.

The sports data didn’t surprise me–I often feel more alive than anywhere else on a sports field. I thought nature might be a bit higher, given that it’s so darn easy to be happy out in nature, but those results seem about right for me. Parties, makes sense, vacations, same thing.

My hypothesis before I sorted the location data was that the more exotic the locale, the greater the chance of having an extremely happy experience. Makes sense, right? Isn’t that why we travel the world, go on vacation? I’ve traveled to Australia, Japan, Hawaii, Wales/England, France, Puerto Rico, St. Charles, you name it. Although I enjoyed my time in all of those places, the only one that has more than one experience of extreme happiness is Japan. I’ve spent a total of 12 months there on three separate trips, so that makes sense. But the rest? Take out Japan and there are 2. Just 2. Compared to 22 at home. Home. Boring old home. There’s so much that you can do and experience when you’re out there traveling the world. Conversely, is there anything at home that can’t happen out there? Let’s look at some examples:

  • organizing, sorting, and trading Halloween candy as a kid (tradition)
  • reading the His Dark Materials trilogy in my papasan chair (comfort)
  • finishing a short story at my writing desk (accessibility)
  • playing MarioKart with friends after class in our apartment (friends)

It would seem that traveling and experiencing things is a bit overrated. What’s wrong with the tried and true, the familiar and the comforting?

Don’t get me wrong. Traveling is in my blood. Mine would be a boring life if I sat at home all the time and didn’t get out to see the world, especially the world beyond our nation’s borders. Not to mention that my junior year in Japan was the happiest year of my life. Hands down.

I think the lesson to be learned here, however, is that home is actually really nice. There’s plenty of happiness at home–not just quiet, subdued happiness, but also extreme happiness, awestruck moments, and joyous occasions. Take pleasure in that. The next time you’re looking for a truly happy experience, look no further than your own home.

Tomorrow: Are other people necessary for your happiness?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Serta PerfectSleeper permalink
    July 15, 2009 9:21 am

    Nice Blog! I’d be curious to hear how many of your great home memories happened in bed. A great mattress can be very memorable! Check out our new Vera Wang collection of foam mattresses here: http://www.serta.com/#/mattresses-by-designer-Vera-Wang-Specialty-Collection-Beds-by-Serta-mattress

    • July 15, 2009 9:26 am

      Thanks for the comment. This is the type of marketing I respond to–marketing that comes to me and is directly related to what I’m interested in. I’m not in the market for a mattress, but I’d say about 5 of the memories on my list of 87 happened in bed (snuggling with my cat is one, and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). Even more for some of those books I read–maybe as many as 10. Well done, Serta!

  2. July 15, 2009 10:29 am

    Perhaps you also have great memories from working on your computer. No? Well if you owned a Velocity Micro then you would! Combine with a Serta mattress for an even more memorable experience!

    • July 15, 2009 10:31 am

      Beautiful! I’m loving this. I think two of the “other” category items were located “online,” so that would apply to computers. Plus, Velocity Micro computers have extremely high performance standards, so that increases your chance of extreme happiness.

  3. Bob permalink
    July 15, 2009 11:36 am

    Have you seen this blog?

    http://www.happinessproject.typepad.com/

    The author has planty of good happiness insights, relevant to the blog post series you’re currently running.

    (And, to follow suit…) Preorder the book now at Amazon!

    Bob

    • July 15, 2009 11:44 am

      Awesome, thanks for the heads up. That’s a really neat concept. I posted about this week’s blog entries on that blog’s comments section. Do you know the writer?

      • Bob permalink
        July 16, 2009 7:17 am

        Don’t know her, but I discovered her through Slate.com, where some of her Happiness Project blog entries are posted.

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