Go for Satisfaction, not Happiness
I read a really interesting article about Gregory Berns’s book, Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment, that says that humans really want satisfaction, not pleasure. We want challenges and experiences that give us a feeling of satisfaction, not easy experiences that are just pleasurable. It was interesting to think about.
If you do something at which you are highly practiced, then you have little opportunity to encounter something novel or unexpected, so dopamine and satisfaction may be low. But when you do something that takes you beyond what you have done before, you are in unknown territory and novel information will flow into your striatum, pumping out dopamine, which in turn forces you to act on the information. The release of dopamine in response to the novel information is the essence of a satisfying experience.
So what was his advice?
I would say stop pursuing happiness and pursue satisfaction. One should
be concentrating on things that give you a sense of commitment and
achievement. Seek new experiences.
That might explain why I like traveling, taking classes and trying different volunteer jobs!