A Social Psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, who is famous for his study on emotions of disgust and morality, is an author of the New York Times best-selling book The Righteous Mind.
The book is for the people who are searching for meaning and want to amplify their happiness level in life or for anyone who wants to do a study on happiness.
Simple Short Summary: In The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt reveals the answer to the question “what makes a person happy”, by using scientific findings and recent knowledge so that you understand the social behavior of humans and become more joyful.
The Happiness Hypothesis Summary
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- Lesson: A – Human brain separates into two parts that’s gut brain and conscious brain
- Lesson: B – By enforcing certain techniques you can change the way you think
- Lesson: C – We are genetically program to return the favor of others
- Lesson: D – Social connection and work can influence the level of your happiness
Lesson: A – Human brain separates into two parts that’s gut brain and conscious brain
Have you ever observed why it is easy to create a new year’s resolution than actually sticking to it? You may be wondering why it is difficult to follow your plan. It happens because our brain disunites into two separate parts.
You can understand these separate minds’ phenomena with a rational rider riding a savage elephant analogy.
First, you have to understand that you cannot completely manage your body with the help of conscious thoughts. For instance, our heart works autonomously from the brain because our rational decisions making process cannot control our pulses.
There is another mind which is known as the “gut-brain”. This part of the brain is self-governed, and its actions are also not controlled by rational choices. Thus, it is fine to say that our heartbeats are determined by our gut-brain, not by rational brain.
Second, the interaction of these two parts in the brain can be observed in the brain structure. The older brain’s structure, known as the limbic system, takes care of basic instincts like hunger and sex whereas the newly formed neocortex regulates inhibition and reasoning.
This neocortex empowers us to maintain control and alignment between drives and desires which born in the older region of the mind. The role of the neocortex is vital and can understand with an example of patients whose this part of the brain is non-functioning.
Why? Because these patients cannot regulate their feelings, and they sexually harass others when they are sexually aroused. Moreover, if they are hungry, they cannot hold their hunger for a long time.
For controlling your sexual drivers, the rider advises the savage elephant who takes care of emotions and instincts. Thus, you can say that the elephant is more potent than the rider.
In reality, instead of using rationality in decision-making, most of us use emotions to govern ourselves.
Lesson: B – By enforcing certain techniques you can change the way you think
Is it possible to change the way you think? And, if so, what precisely do you need to alter it?
Certainly, the main challenge with our inner elephant is that it tends to examine everything we have watched most likely in a negative way. Because in ancient times, the survival of ancestors relied on their skills to identify danger.
Thus, as we have grown up we become prone to focus more on evil elements than good elements. For instance, if you appeared in front of the savage animal, you would experience fear and anxiety that incite you to run away.
In fact, everything you had collected so far was superfluous as it did not deliver the reward of owning it.
It is much like an elephant that becomes surprised when a rat has just appeared in front of it. The same goes for our inner elephant because it reacts unreasonably when you encounter fears and worries like delivering a presentation even when these activities will not kill you.
Quite frankly, our genetics are quite accountable for our inclination towards optimistic or pessimistic looks. Optimistic people are those who see the good while pessimistic see the negative in every situation.
In one study, it has discovered that young babies who mainly showed right-brain activity were far more happy in comparison to those babies who demonstrated left-brain activity. Plus, this was even true when these babies will turn into an adult.
In another research, it has also found out that the happiness of 50-80% of people depends on the composition of their genetic. With this, it looked like that your intellectual rider was hardly able to manage your inner elephants.
However, to control our inner elephant, the rider may apply certain techniques to coach it and become happier. For instance, by regularly doing meditation, you can decrease the influence of negative thinking and pessimistic look that transforms your perspective and make you an optimistic person.
Another approach to treat depression was cognitive therapy. This therapy has been verified to recover depression since the 1960s. In this technique, your aim is to replace every negative thought with positive ones.
Lesson: C – We are genetically program to return the favor of others
If one of your old friends brought a surprise for you on your birthday, the chances were you would do the same and carry the present on his birthday too. It happens because we have an instinct that compels us to do something for someone who has already done something good for us.
We are obliged to perform reciprocity. By doing this, we make it easy for people and ourselves to survive in extreme conditions.
Thus, humans become a creature who reciprocates. For instance, take an example of a group of people who depend on hunting for their survival.
In a group, sometimes, one participant slaughters more prey than he eats. In this case, he donates his remaining food to those who are less blessed than him.
Not sharing his prey, the remnant prey will go to waste. Doing this will also not give any benefit to him.
On the contrary, donating his prey has its own benefit because the other members will reciprocate the same gesture. It means he can hope that on some random day if he was unfortunate, the other members will return the equal amount of prey to him.
Unfortunately, this gesture of reciprocity does not work in our favor sometimes. As reciprocity is just a natural impulse, we reciprocate even if it works against our self-interest.
For instance, suppose an amount of $25 is distributed between two subjects. The first person holds an opportunity to determine how the amount allocates while the second person can only decide either to accept the offer or not.
But, if the second person rejects the offer, both will receive nothing. Logically, the first person should offer one dollar to the second person.
However, the experiment’s result demonstrates that the participants of this experiment give half of the actual sum. In some cases, when the first person offered below $7, the second subject would have rejected the offer, choosing not to accept any money.
Rationally, the second subject can accept the offer of $1 instead of taking no money at all. It states that if the law of reciprocity violates, the other person will react in anger – typically spreading negativity about that person.
This law discloses if reciprocity needs are unfulfilled, most likely, the person’s reputation will be wrack.
Lesson: D – Social connection and work can influence the level of your happiness
If you assume that the way you think, determine the way you evaluate things around you – good or bad. Then, it will likely say that the outside world would not affect your happiness. However, it is not the complete truth.
As we are inclined to adopt a new environment, outside circumstances cause a little impact on our enjoyment. From an evolutionary viewpoint, paying attention and embracing a new environment have become vital in compare to holding the previous one.
Some external factors are crucial for our happiness, and ignoring them will not serve us well. In fact, making a healthy social connection is one of them and vital to our wellbeing.
We are social animals, and certainly, social relationships are vital to our wellbeing. There are most likely two outside factors that need your attention.
The first is the number of connections you have with others, and the second is the intensity of those connections. Actually, those who are happily married and have an abundance of deep connections with other people show a preeminent level of happiness.
It is not only the social connections that bring happiness to your face. It also matters what you do professionally.
If you are engaged in work that you are good at, you will sense a substantially higher level of happiness. Hence, you can say that you will be far more happy when you do the work which aligns with your strength.
Quite frankly, we all are aware of our strengths and weakness. We even know the things that we are skillful at. For instance, if you know you are good at communication and love to talk with strangers, PR jobs would be best for you.