High impact plus low downside

Happiness is overrated in the macro and underrated in the micro.

Because on a major scale, there are so many things in this life more important than being happy.

Happiness isn’t the target, it’s what we get for hitting it.

Personally, my target it fulfillment. Which comes from making meaning in line with my values. If that is intentionally achieved, my incidental reward is happiness.

On a minor scale, there are very few things more important than being happy.

Life is hard, and we do what we have to do, hour by hour, to survive.

One way to personify this is to consider the list of all those small and simple adjustments, additions and subtractions that have a disproportionate effect on overall happiness.

Like lowering the volume on my alarm clock so waking up in the morning is gentler and more gradual. Or pruning the excessive items from my keychain so it’s less awkward in my pocket. Or switching over to dark mode on my computer so the default color is softer on my eyes. Or keeping a pair of warm, cozy clogs at my office for when my commute shoes are wet and gross.

Or playing relaxing music while pooping to help ease my bathroom experience. Or turning on the inbox category tabs in my email so it’s seamless to delete junk. Or waiting sixty seconds after getting off the subway to let hundreds of frantic people rush past me so my walk up the stairs is safer and slower.

Each of these tools and moments are little things with high impact and low downside. They bring a disproportionate amount of happiness.

What things are on your list? How often will you permit yourself to have them?

It’s worth noticing, celebrating and ritualizing. We live in a world that mostly a major abstraction, riddled with a million vibrating variables we can’t control.

Any parcel of control and joy we can wrestle from the chaos is not an insignificant investment. 

Are you immersing yourself in small, personal pleasures whenever you like?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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