I Am Happiest When [No.35]

Posted by Jill Chivers in Happy

I’m reading Tal Ben-Shahar’s outstanding book Happier.  I’m only partway through and already it’s producing pure gold in terms of new, fresh ways of thinking about (and by extension, if applied, experiencing) happiness.

I love the “Hamburger” model Professor Ben-Shahar shares early in the book.  He describes four ways of approaching and living your life (I paraphrase creatively).

The rat race

Firstly, the rat race which many of us can relate to, I’m sure.  The rat race is characterised by “misery now, enjoyment later”.  We defer future benefit, in Professor Shahar’s vernacular, in favour of current detriment.  We live for later, being miserable today.

Oh yes, I’ve done that.  Lots and lots of that.  I’ve been a rat, racing.

The hedonist

Then there’s the hedonist.  The opposite of the rat race, this approach to life is “enjoyment now, misery later”.  Current benefit, if you can use the word ‘benefit’ to describe the hedonists approach to instant gratification, the price being future detriment.

Hmmm, not so much of this for me.  I’ve been a big deferer of enjoyment, putting off play until all my chores are done. 

The nihilist

Thirdly there’s a miserable combination of the worst elements of future detriment and current detriment.  This is the nihilist.  Hating today with no hope for tomorrow. To quote directly from Professor Ben-Shahar’s beautiful words on page 15: “the person who has lost the lust for life; someone who neither enjoys the moment nor has a sense of future purpose”.

This one cuts painfully close to the bone.  I have definitely been in this place where today feels miserable, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel signally hope for the future.


Finally there’s the best of all possible worlds – future benefit and current benefit.  Enjoyment today, and a sense of purpose for the future.  This is called happiness.

This is what my year-long experiment is all about.  Enjoying this very moment, the one I’m in right now, with a sense of hope about my future.


I am happiest when (#35)

I’m having an outing. I live in a beautiful part of the world, a place where people come to vacation and get away from their daily grind.  I’m lucky to live in paradise, a place where we enjoy sensational weather 90% of the year, with equal parts natural beauty and interesting places to go, be and see.  On this day, my husband and I were taking a short day trip, on a week day (my favourite kind of outing – during what would normally be a working day!) in one of his many Mustangs, this one a 1968 California Special in Acapulco Blue.

A day out in a classic Mustang - what a treat!

A day out in a classic Mustang – what a treat!

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