According to Scott Adams, at least. This is my summary of his Periscope Number 644. Title: The Happiness Formula.
Happiness is the goal.
In order to be happy, you need three chemicals in your body And brain. Yes, there are a lot of others, but these three have the biggest impact. The chemicals are boosted by lifestyle: what you do.
You can’t think your way into happiness. Some people think you can think happy thoughts.
Happiness is not a mental process. If you think happiness is a mental process there is nothing you can do about it. You are a victim of your environment.
Treat it instead as a physical process, the end result of which is that you feel happy. Now you have a way to do something about your condition. (If you are waiting for problems to go away, or any other kind of externality to cause happiness, you are doomed. Ed.)
Here they are. You can do things that boost these chemicals, and these chemicals will cause you to feel happy.
- Oxytocin. The chemical that makes you feel connected to people. Makes you feel in love. Get this from social interaction, especially touch.
If you get a system for your diet and your sleep (the lifestyle stuff) you will feel better. Happier.
(He emphasizes having a system in place to improve these over time. Not a “my diet is set” goal or a “my sleeping patterns are nailed” goal. Scott is big on systems and down on goal-oriented behavior. Ed.)
Diet. Make it a lifelong system of learning about diet and experimenting with what works for you. His example: too many bad carbs make him unhappy because his energy crashes.
“Don’t have a cheat day. If you think you can have a cheat day you don’t understand anything about how all of this works.”
Exercise. Create a lifestyle that makes it more likely that you will do something active every day. Again—build the system that makes exercise inevitable.
If you get exercise right, most of your days will be good. One-to-one correlation exists between happy and exercised today.
Sleep. Get enough sleep. Regular hours to bed and to rise. Learn what to do before bedtime. Don’t use the bed for anything except sleep and sex. You absolutely can control your sleep. Don’t change weekend routine and week routines. Same routine. No late weekends.
Nature. Get outside. Sunlight. Immerse yourself in nature. Trees and grass.
Social life. Improve it. He recommends Dale Carnegie’s method. If you don’t have a good social life, it’s your fault. You don’t know the technique for how to do it.
You should know how to talk to strangers. You should know how to carry on a conversation.
But here is the main thing to unlock your social life: give more than you get. Think generously and people will want to hang out with. Nobody cares who you are on the inside. They can’t see it. Demonstrate generosity visibly.
You go first. Invite people to your place. Set up an outing. Buy someone lunch. Solve a problem for someone. Offer to help.
Get out in the real world.
Have a purpose in life. Find something to do that is useful to society and other people. That’s how you find a purpose. If all day you just do things that are useful for you alone, you will not have a purpose and you won’t feel good. It will eat at your chemical state.
Find a purpose like this. What am I good at? Or what am I willing to become good at? Ask these questions and come up with an answer. Then try it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
Learning and growing. When you are learning and growing you will feel better. It doesn’t matter what you are learning. Build your talent stack.
Never be in the state of not learning. Every day learn something.
In summary, happiness is not a mental internal process where you can think yourself into it. It is a chemically-induced outcome. The things he outlines above are things that will create the big three chemicals that preponderantly cause the physical conditions in your brain that we interpret as “happy”.
One more thing. Avoid stress. He does not watch movies that are dramas. He doesn’t watch movies that are scary or have bad endings. He won’t watch a comedy with a bad ending. He does not expose himself to fiction that is negative. All these things add stress to your life, disguised by “I’m entertained”. He avoids stressful people. If someone is toxic they are gone. He doesn’t talk to them again. It is less bad cutting them off than the horror of being with toxic people.
The news is toxic. He does it for his Periscope. Me personally. I wouldn’t watch it.
Start with one thing. E.g., diet. Do something and test for a one-to-one correlation between that and a good day. The realization will then fuel your next move.
The goal is happiness. But the goal does not tell you how to get there. The system does. The system of start-learn-improve iteration.