Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about positive psychology and the science of happiness (including passion and purpose) at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about happiness – the science of happiness. This is another one of those fields that just the research in this area is exploding.
For the past 10 or 15 years, there’s been an enormous amount of research that’s been done under umbrellas like neuroscience or behavioral psychology. What they’re doing is they’re looking at how we make decisions. How do our brains actually work? How does our subconscious work? What motivates us? And there are really extraordinary insights that are coming out of this type of research. And one of the areas is what makes people happy. If you look at two similar people but one person’s always really in a good mood and the other person’s never in a good mood, what actually makes those two people different?
And so what they’ve done—what I want to do today actually is cover two different approaches to the topic. And one is kind of different layers of happiness – we’ll do that second. But the other one is the things that are generally required for people to be happy. What do happy people generally have?
And the research shows that they generally have four things. Number one, they have a perceived sense of control. In other words, they have some control over their lives. Number two, they have a sense of perceived progress. So they’re making progress towards their own goals. Whatever they want in life, they feel like they’re moving forward towards it. Number one, they have control. Number two, they’re making progress.
Number three, they have relationships or connections in their life, human relationships. Very, very important. It’s consistent. One of the primary factors of happiness is people have other people in their lives. They’re connecting with other human beings. Doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily have an intimate relationship or one type of relationship or another, but you need human beings in your life. You can’t be a hermit. It’s very difficult to be happy when you’re a hermit. You have to interact with other people.
And fourth, you have to have a sense of purpose. You have to be a part of something greater than yourself. So it’s not only about you. It’s about others. And there is a selfless quality of having purpose in your life. You’re contributing to something where you’re not the beneficiary. The beneficiary is somebody else. It’s something else.
Maybe it’s the planet. Maybe you’re passionate about saving the planet from an environmental perspective, or it could be other people in your own community, or maybe impoverished community on the other part of the world. Could be animals. Maybe you’re a pet lover or an animal lover, and so you’re passionate about that. So you’re contributing to causes where you’re not the beneficiary. You lose yourself in it and you become part of something that’s greater than you. Purpose. So, again, sense of control, sense of progress, connection, and purpose.
Now, the second approach to this is the levels of happiness. And this is where the two of them overlap, which is why I wanted to do this video, and we’ll get to that in a second. But there are three levels of happiness. And by the way, there’s a lot of research in this area that I’m not including in this video. It’s a very short video. But I wanted to give you a basic overview, and I want to get to this overlap, which I think is fascinating.
So don’t think that the research is limited to what we’re discussing here. There’s a lot more. In fact, there’s a book called The Science of Happiness and a lot of other books that are related to the field of research of what makes people happy, and I encourage anyone to do that research. I have not read all of those books, but I actually have a few of them on my wish list, so I’ll be getting to them myself.
But, three levels of happiness. So at the base level of happiness you have pleasure. You know what this is. This is the rock star kind of happiness. This is eating a great meal. This is sitting in an incredible location with an amazing view and a sunset. This is having sex – that’s pleasure, happiness. Having cocktails. For people who are addicted to drugs, they’re getting high, that’s a pleasure. [00:04:16] It’s an immediate thing.
Now, what we’re talking about here is how long – here’s the activity, how long is the residual effect of the happiness? And with that bottom layer, pleasure happiness, it’s very short. So during the activity, you’re happy. Everything’s cool. But when the activity stops, the happiness drops off very quickly. And maybe you’ve experienced this yourself.
This is the kind of thing that lottery winners quite often go through, or rock stars when they first become or people who become famous and all of a sudden they have a huge amount of money. What do they do? They go out and just overwhelm their lives with pleasure happiness, but they still have that feeling of emptiness inside, and as soon as the pleasure—like these people who win lotteries. It’s astonishing the number of people who win lotteries. Within five years they’re broke again, or wherever they were financially, roughly in five years after they win the prize they end up gravitating back to wherever they were before, because that’s their financial mindset. So even though they get all this money, they instinctively spend it all on all this pleasure, end up right back where they started. But the bottom line is that once the activity, these pleasure-based happiness activities are over, the happiness drops off almost right away.
The second level—first one’s pleasure—second one is passion, doing something you’re passionate about. So all of a sudden this is a little bit of a different category. You get into a state of flow. People talk about a state of flow where imagine if you’re painting—let’s say you love to paint, a fine art painter. So some of these painters, they start painting and they think they’ve spent like 20 minutes on it, it’s actually been like four hours. They lose themselves in the activity. They get passionate about it. So that’s a flow state. It’s what they call a flow state of mind. There’s a book by Mihail Csikszentmihalyi called Flow and it talks about this.
So anyway, being passionate about something, areas where you can really sink your teeth into it and lose your sense of time and really get involved. So again, you’ve got the activity that you’re passionate about, and once it’s over, the residual effect lasts longer. So even when you’re not doing the thing you’re passionate about, you’re still happy as a result of having that activity in your life. So the residual effect is longer.
What’s the third one? Well, the first one’s pleasure, second one’s passion, and the third one is purpose. That’s the overlap. That’s the overlap with the first approach that we looked at in this video. So purpose, again, we’re talking about being part of something that’s greater than yourself, contributing to a cause where you’re not the beneficiary. It’s completely selfless. You lose yourself in the activity.
And that is an area where the residual effect of happiness, it never really drops off. As long as you have that component in your life, you feel better about yourself as a human being. So all of a sudden your self-image goes up as a result of the activity. And when your self-image goes up, your happiness, your sustainable level of happiness, goes up as well.
So in both of these two models, looking at things from a totally different angle, but in the one they’re saying what’s required to be happy, and one of them was purpose, in the other one they’re talking about three different levels of happiness and the top one, again, was purpose.
So I want to encourage you—this is something I’m trying to do in my own life, and by the way, this video series is part of it in a way. There are other aspects to it because this does benefit me, of course, but doing these sorts of activities are things that I’m trying to explore in my own life, and I encourage you to look into your life and think, where can you contribute at a larger level? What can you be part of that’s bigger than yourself and really make a contribution that has nothing to do with you but has to do with others or the planet or animals or whatever you might be passionate about helping? It’s one of those things that’s going to contribute to your happiness, and that’s part of a much more enjoyable life.
So once again, thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.