3 Levels of Happiness

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on work blog, June 1, 2012

I cut out a Mother Goose & Grimm cartoon from last week’s comics where a jar of glue is laying on a psychiatrist’s couch. The psychiatrist says to the jar of glue, “You should stop getting attached to material things.”

Can anyone relate? Those things & toys & must-have-it-nows fall into one of the classic dream categories (Material), and they often bring us instant pleasure and are easy to scratch off our dream lists – so go for it, buy, buy, buy and put a smile on your face right now!

But beware that your smile will likely fade sooner than you would like…and if you don’t have a game plan in life you may quickly be in search of the next purchase to make you feel happy again. This may be easier to see in others than in yourself – think of those around you who may be in this pattern. Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos), in his great book Delivering Happiness, defines 3 levels of happiness…pleasure, passion, and higher purpose. Guess which one he calls the “rock star” type of happiness (i.e., it’s hard to sustain unless you’re living the life of a rock star) and is the shortest lasting? Yep, pleasure – once the stimuli are gone the happiness level drops immediately. Passion happiness (characterized as “being in the zone” or “when time flies by”) lasts even longer, and higher purpose happiness, lasts the longest yet. Tony suggests most of us are doing it backwards, and that to achieve long term happiness we should start with pursuing our higher purpose, layer passion on top of that, and have that drive our pleasure happiness.

If only that were as easy as it sounds – but I get his point. We all want happiness, but far too often we make short-term decisions in the pursuit of happiness that may not align with (and could rob from) our long-term passion & higher purpose. So…create your dream list…100 dreams (yes, creating a list of this many dreams should really force you beyond your comfort zone)…look at that list, reflect on it…see if you can get a glimpse of your passion & higher purpose in life, and then you won’t have to worry so much about how long your latest new “toy” will keep you happy 🙂

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