Disclaimer: the tools described in this chapter are a way to put in practice Happy Dad’s wisdom. They are not a crystal ball, nor deterministic. We benefit from the learning process of considering different variables, assessing course of actions and seeing potential results in scenarios. The approach drafted here also allows to measure results, building a usefu; repository of aggregated, anonymous subjective well-being data.
Starting from the example of Happy Dad, we ask ourselves some key questions, elaborating in more details a “working approach to living happily”.
Is happiness an inside job? Or does it depend on external factors?
As shown in the sketch below, one approach to these questions is to think in terms of degree of facilitation. Some events are like a weight, making harder for us to fly; some are like a lift, facilitating our happiness. But, at the end of day, considering even the way we discern between weights and lifts (same event can be considered in various ways, and especially with different degrees of effect, by different people), we can say that happiness is about attitudes, it is not a place to reach through external factors.
We can also see a “natural range”, often referred as happiness baseline. Regardless of the short-term changes we have in how we assess our happiness level, in the long term we tend to oscillate within our natural range. Current natural range is influenced by several components, including attitudes, genetics, familiar background, etc. Natural range does not mean unchangeable range, it just means the current usual range, which has been built over time. As said, short-term events usually do not change it; we can change it by changing our attitudes, or it can be moved up or down by external events only if they have an extremely strong magnitude.
By understanding where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there – for example using AmAre as a framework for personal development – and acting accordingly for a sustained amount of time, we reach a “nurtured range”. Doing anything for over 10,000 hours is what is often considered as making it lasting; our brains rewire according to our sustained behaviour. That does not mean we go from 1 to 10,000 hours with no happiness: each day lived with appropriate attitudes make us happier than we were before. How long we initially sustain our attitudes makes them lasting. We can start with “small rituals”: thanking when we wake up for the opportunity of writing a new chapter in our life, and thanking when we go to sleep for what we learnt that day; keeping a “gratefulness” diary; counting up to four breaths before replying to a remark we can see as inappropriate, etc.