An acquaintance of mine recently sent me a link to a very interesting video clip. In this clip, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, summarizes the last four decades of research regarding happiness.
Among the many fascinating tidbits Mr. Brooks shares, one especially grabbed my attention. He described a study examining the overall happiness of individuals before and after becoming quadriplegic. According to this study, six months after becoming quadriplegic, these individuals had achieved an overall baseline of happiness only slightly lower than their able-bodied baseline. This same study compared the overall happiness of individuals before and after winning the lottery. Six months after winning the lottery, these individuals reported a somewhat lower baseline of happiness than they had enjoyed pre-lottery.
What does this suggest? Well, it suggests that people are much more resilient than you might assume. And it suggests that getting the Big Win—that shiny luxury car, that huge promotion, that enormous mansion—doesn’t satisfy for long. More generally, the study suggests that happiness isn’t about carefully avoiding the Really Bad Things in life, nor is it about rushing full-steam ahead for the Next Big Pleasure in the Sky. It’s about living your life in the Here and Now, connecting to each simple moment as it is.