Among the many nuggets of wisdom that Ben-Shahar presents is a 4 archetype examination of people on the happiness spectrum. Unquestionably, most everyone is a mixture of each but I will present the extremes.
- The Rat Racer: These are people who are concerned with happiness in the future. They are willing to endure current misery for future happiness. I would say that most of my thirty and forty something career counseling clients fall into this category. They fill the Connecticut suburbs. Off to work at 7ish, 30-45 minute commute to New Haven or Hartford or longer if in Fairfield County, leave work in the 6ish range and repeat. Day after day at a job that they don’t really like. It is wonderful that rat-racers are responsible. But this is not the optimal way to live.
- The Hedonist: They embrace happiness in the moment for the expense of happiness in the future. Some but not all of my twentysomething clients fall into this category.
- The Nihilist: They believe that happiness is not attainable in either the present or the future. While my work is as a career coach, I am sometimes called upon to be a life coach. Those who are depressed – like most Nihilists – need both a practical solution (such as career help) and psychological bolstering (such as a shift in perspective)
- Happiness: View present activities happily and these activities are those that also lead to future happiness. That’s how I want my clients to leave.
Where are you primarily in this paradigm? My guess is “rat-racer”. There is another way.