NPR has a segment on a class at Harvard about how to be happy. On their web page, they have six tips on how to find happiness from tal Ben-Shahar and one in particular struck me as something I’ve thought about a lot. NPR : Finding Happiness in a Harvard Classroom.
2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.
When people talk about what they’d do "if they won the lottery", it always seems to involve beaches and vacation homes. I think that would be boring, or meaningless, after a while. I’ve always wondered what you would do all day, how you would meet friends, what you would learn, what you would contribute, … how long could you read best sellers, lie on the beach and drink mai-tais? Certainly it would be fun for a while but then I think you’d need something else to do. So as much as I’d love to spend time sailing in the Carribean, I can’t imagine retiring permanently to a boat in the Carribean. Maybe for a year or two.
To be happy you need pleasure and meaning. And often meaning comes from challenges.