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4 Questions About Happiness

1) Have you ever met a happy person?

When answering this question, make sure you’re limiting your options to people who have actually admitted to being happy. Otherwise, it’s too easy to say “yes” based on the assumption that anyone who seems to have an easier life than you is happy. It’s also easy to incorrectly attribute happiness to people based on the way we positively stereotype certain behaviors. Sometimes people appear to be happy when they’re hurting. Other times people appear to be too serious when they’re happy. So don’t assume. Ask.

2) Have you ever asked that person why they’re happy?

It’s one thing to perceive people as happy. It’s another thing to have them admit it. It’s an even bigger thing to have them tell you why.  Sometimes, even when we accurately identify people as happy, we make all sorts of assumptions that result in our mislocating the true causes of that happiness. So make sure you’re answering this question based on how people talk about their own happiness.

3) Has anyone ever answered the question by saying “because I get my way most of the time?”

My prediction is that no one is going to answer the question this way. So it might help to ask the following question as a follow-up: “How often do you get your way in life?” An alternative wording might be “How often have you had the experience of things not going your way?”

4) Has anyone ever answered the question by saying “because person X keeps me happy?”

Personally, I’ve never met anyone who seems happy, claims to be happy, and credits said happiness to some person who makes/keeps them happy. So, again, I doubt if anyone is going to answer the question this way. So it might help to ask the following question as a follow-up: Have you ever had to find a way to be happy in spite of the way people in your life were acting?

What lessons, insights, or conclusions did you derive from this experience? I’d love to hear.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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