Happiness in a Broken Reality

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I picked up Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken from the library last week. I’m about halfway through it. It’s a book about harnessing “the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness.” In 2010 when I watched Jane’s TED talk Gaming Can Make a Better World I was sceptical, but the arguments she makes in the book are compelling. I won’t get into those here. Instead, I want to highlight her thoughts on fuelling your own happiness:

“There are many ways to be happy, but we cannot find happiness. No object, no event, no outcome or life circumstance can deliver real happiness to us. We have to make our own happiness — by working hard at activities that provide their own reward. One of the chief reasons for the durability of self-made happiness is that unlike happiness derived from extrinsic sources, it is hard won. You devoted time and effort… You made it happen, and you have the ability to make it happen again. This sense of capability and responsibility is a powerful boost in and of itself. We must learn to rely less on short-lived external rewards and take control of our own happiness. In this way we become better able to protect and strengthen our quality of life. When the source of positive emotion is yourself, it can continue to yield pleasure. When the source of positive emotion is yourself, it is renewable.” — Jane McGonigal (Slightly paraphrased.)

She then goes on to explain what she believes are the keys to self-made happiness:

  • Satisfying work, every single day. The definition of which is different for everyone, but it basically means being immersed in clearly defined, demanding activities that allow us to see the direct impact of our efforts.
  • The experience, or at least the hope, of being successful. We want (need) to be optimistic about our own chances for success and feel like we are working towards that goal.
  • Social connection. ‘nuff said.
  • Meaning, or the chance to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

Be happy my friends.

2012-10-06 18:24:00