New books: three secrets of happiness

Suite of excerpts adapted from The Sh * t, They Never Taught You published by What You Will Learn

You are among the richest people in the whole world. The average worldwide income is five thousand dollars. Are you higher than that? So you are in the top 50%.

Secret 1: remember the lottery

The biggest lottery in history was a Powerball in January 2016, with a one-touch jackpot of less than $ 1.586 billion. Three tickets hit the right numbers. The Robinson family of Tennessee curled up with their dog to collect their novelty check. In their ragged clothes and disheveled hair, the Lucky Bastards came out with $ 528 million. Their life had changed forever. They could be who they wanted to be and do whatever they wanted for the rest of their lives.

Imagine if you won the lottery.

Now imagine that you win the lottery 100 days in a row! Life would be a dream, and you could finally live happily ever after.

Well you have already won the lottery. In fact, the luck you have been given to get to where you are now is equivalent to winning the lottery a billion times.

Don’t believe us? Let’s do the math.

The first lottery you won was Planet Earth Can Support Life. The anthropogenic principle says there were so many variables throughout the history of the universe that had to be right for us to get to where we are today. A 0.001% change in the proportion of gas a billion years ago and none of us would be here.

The second lottery you won was to be born into a species that dominates the planet. You could be a poor antelope chewing grass in the savannah, not hearing the lion sneaking up behind you about to rip your leg off. You could be a lab rat, bred specifically to be tortured every day to learn more about the science of pain. You could be a dairy cow, artificially inseminated by cold machines to produce milk all year round. But luckily for you, you were born human.

The third lottery you won was born today. You could have been born centuries ago, in a time without medicine where a small cut could get infected and you would die a few days later.

The fourth lottery you won was that your great-great-great-grandparents befriended and got a bit dashing one night. If one of your thousands of ancestors didn’t meet, or if one of the millions of other sperm got to the egg before yours, you wouldn’t be here today.

The fifth lottery you have won is that you are still alive. Of the 108 billion humans who have ever lived, there are less than 8 billion alive today. If your heart is still beating, that is reason enough to be happy.

The sixth lottery you won had to come about in relative comfort. You might admire the big dogs in your country and cry over your meager salary, but you ignore the rest of the world. One billion people live in poverty. The average salary in the world is around $ 5,000. If you make $ 50,000 a year, you might only be among the richest 50% in your country, but you are among the richest 0.5% in the world. You make over 99.5% of the rest of the population on the planet.

This is just a taste to help put things in perspective. Just to get to where you are, to be alive in the first place, the odds are so low we can’t even calculate them. Yet we still think we don’t have enough.

Remember how lucky you are to be here. Remember the lottery.

Secret 2: be happy first

Most people think the path to success looks like this:

Great job -> Great success -> Be happy

Study hard -> Great job -> Be happy

Work overtime -> Be promoted -> Be happy

The idea is that if we do all the right things now, then at some magical time in the future we will be happy. If we trudge through the mud and the mud, if we are beaten and bruised by the storm, then once the sun comes out on the other side, we will find our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. -sky.

But this model is broken.

We find ourselves in an endless loop between the first and the second stage, never allowing us to reach this very important third stage. We are working overtime to get a promotion, but rather than being happy, we just take the extra hours back to get the next promotion. We learn new skills to get a good job, but rather than being happy, we go back to learning the next set of skills. We work hard, get our big hit, then go straight back to work on the next project. You never get to happiness. Why stop at that university degree when you can continue studying and get a master’s degree? Why stop at a director when you could work a little more and become a vice-president? Why stop at one investment property when you could keep working and keep saving to buy a second? We keep pushing happiness further and further.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. We just need to flip the equation: be happy first. This is what your new path should look like:

Be happy -> Great job -> Great success

Harvard Business Review reported that happy people are 31% more productive, have 37% more sales, and are three times more creative than their unhappy colleagues. Maybe we are wrong: it may not be success that leads to happiness, but our happiness that leads to success. Happier people work better and advance more in their careers. They are better at home and better in their relationships. So, we should all be happy all the time.

It’s easy to say: be happy. But we know it’s not that simple in reality. This is because our perception of “happiness” is out of whack. Happiness does not mean the absence of negative thoughts. We all have negative thoughts! There is no such thing as an eternal optimist – negative self-talk always creeps in. So the problem is not that we have negative thoughts in our brain – the problem is that we think we shouldn’t be thinking negative thoughts.

If you are looking for a problem to solve, you are going to find a problem. Instead of always looking for what is wrong with our life, why don’t we focus on what is right for a change? Be happy first.

Secret 3: the third bucket

Each week lasts 168 hours. We can divide our time into three roughly equal sized buckets. Let’s put a bucket to sleep. So let’s get one to work. This means we have a third bucket left. We have 56 hours left in the week to do what we want.

You probably think you need more, but 56 hours per week should be enough. Bucket one and two – sleeping and working – are precisely the things we need to give ourselves the time / energy / money / structure to do what we want in bucket three. But most people waste it!

I (Ashto) went to high school in Melbourne. It is a select entrance school where you have to pass an exam to enter, and you can only enter if you score in the top 2% of the state. Our school generally finishes second in the high school ranking, losing only to our sister school (the girls-only school seems to trump our boys-only school every year!). Students continue their education in the best university courses and join the “best” professions – medicine, dentistry, law, finance, engineering.

One of my friends got into management consulting. Every Monday morning, he flies to a different city to visit a client, comes home late on Friday night, then spends all Saturday writing his reports and recommendations for the week. Another journeyman entered the law and a high powered law firm. Most of the time, he works from around 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., plus a few hours on the weekends to catch up on anything he couldn’t do during the week. These two guys live in small one-bedroom apartments in a downtown skyscraper.

Where’s their third bucket? They earn around $ 120,000 a year, but have to work 80 hours a week without a lot of breaks to get it. It comes down to about $ 28 an hour. Moreover, they are both quite miserable and hate their jobs.

Compare that to my brother, Nigel. He also attended the same school, but took a very different approach from most: he became a teacher. He likes that! It has an impact on the lives of children at a crucial age. He moved to the bush because he disagreed with the messages that schools in the city were giving to their sensitive children. After only two years in the job market, he bought his first home because the prices for homes in the country are less than half of what they would cost in the city and his cost of living was much lower. Every day he comes home at 4 p.m. and he’s done. His labor doesn’t bleed at night, and he doesn’t bleed on weekends. Primary schools in Australia have four terms of about 10 weeks each, so it has about 12 weeks of vacation per year. When you factor in pay, hours of work, and number of holidays, Nigel also makes around $ 28 an hour! And he loves what he does every day. His third bucket is fuller than most, giving him the freedom to do whatever he wants all night and all weekend.

If happiness is the goal, you need to identify the right path for you. Some people only look at the annual salary that their job offers them. But it is important to also look at the hourly wage, taking into account the effect on the third bucket. If bucket two (work) fits into bucket three (whatever else you want to do) then your happiness will suffer. If you’re working so hard that you don’t have the time or energy you need to enjoy the third bucket, your priorities might need a realignment.

Click here to order your copy of this book

Copyright © 2021 by Adam Jones and Adam Ashton.

About Joey J. Hott

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