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#103 – Maximizing Your Happiness and Fulfillment and with Raj Raghunathan

What impact do your judgments and decisions have on your happiness and fulfillment? Award-winning professor, blogger, author, and teacher of a successful online happiness course on Coursera titled A Life of Happiness And Fulfillment, Raj Raghunathan, has the answer!

During the episode, Raj shares the biggest happiness mistakes we make along with how to change this behavior. He also reveals his theory of happiness missing from the list of things that people want, why he started his research and strategies for finding what makes us happy. Later in the episode, Raj explains what a person needs to be happy, how focusing on being the best you can be can take you further in life, the correlation between money and happiness, and what actions to take to boost your happiness level.

Read Show Notes From This Episode (click to expand and read notes from the full interview)
  • Raj says the biggest happiness mistake is to want happiness but not end up selecting choices that lead you to happiness. Brings up retiring sooner and how that can lead to happiness.Wes talks about how we know what makes us happy but we don’t prioritize that. Raj says it’s like wanting to go to Delhi but buying a ticket to London.

    Raj has a theory that happiness is missing from the list of things people want because it didn’t even occur to them.

    They talk about Raj’s course at Coursera. It’s totally free. Started at Stanford University. You can binge the course and finish it in a day if you want. But it’s typically about 6 weeks.

    Raj says ultimately, human beings are similar. We need good social relationships. We need some perception that we are competent at what we do.

    Wes says, let’s say I know now what is important, but how do I dig in and get to that? Raj talks about this. They agree that we spend very little time soul searching. No one really tells you to do that when you’re growing up. Raj says that in the US if you think people don’t spend much time on this he can tell you that in India they spend ZERO time on this

    **RAJ is worried because the video froze. Wes told him not to worry. All good.** We get back to talking.

    Wes asks which country is the best for this type of thing. Raj says “The Element” is a good book about this. And in some ways, he says finding this purpose is more important than learning skills. If you just learn a bunch of skills without a purpose, you don’t know what to do with them. Raj says Scandinavian countries are some of the best about this with happiness levels. Wes says “Why are the Scandinavians so happy for god’s sake?” Raj laughs and then delves into answering that but first takes a step back to talk about what a person needs to be happy. Then ties it back into the Scandinavian countries and what they do to ensure people have the external things people need for happiness.

    Raj talks about how Europeans savor life more. Lunch is a drawn-out affair with wine. In the US we sit in our cars and scarf down fast food.

    Socializing is so important. We are very social as a species. And the Scandi countries are very good at that. Unfortunately, in the US, loneliness is possibly the fastest-growing epidemic. Especially with men. Wes asks why. Raj says one part of it is that we lead more isolated lives. The advent of the internet. Like, this interview (not in the same place) couldn’t have happened 20 years ago. The internet makes you think you’re connected to people but you’re not as deeply connected as if you were talking down the street and someone invited you in. Also, we now live in more spread-out suburbia rather dense areas that allow for organic opportunities. Also, divorce rates are higher so people find themselves lonelier.

    Raj says there are studies that as you get more money that makes you more prone to becoming lonely.

    Comparing yourself to others is not a good way to be happy. Also, don’t be overly control-seeking

    Analysis paralysis.

    Wes brings up “Chasing superiority.”

    Raj says sometimes we think the only way to get ahead is to compare ourselves to others and use that insecurity as fuel and motivation. But studies with little kids who don’t have that comparison thing

    The two most important things we learn – learning to walk and learning to speak – are not through social comparisons. It’s through curiosity. Love for learning. That is the key.

    If you can focus on being the best you can be rather than comparing yourself to someone else, you’ll go further and be happier. Less jealousy. You’ll sleep better at night. Just focus on the love for what you want to do rather than the fear of what you have to do.

    Abundance and scarcity.

    They talk about the amount of money that is necessary to have for max happiness. And where that stops being important.

    Winning the lottery. Hedonic treadmill. X and Y axis of happiness vs. that of paraplegics.

    Music is key! Huge boost in happiness. Also, maintaining a journal. Write about 3 good things that happened. Non-egotistical things. Write about things you didn’t work for. Write about things that were given to you that made you feel grateful.

Watch the full episode!

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This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax, or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions. The views and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions.

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