A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment

I took a Coursera class called A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment, which I highly recommend. I was definitely happier while taking the class because professor Raghunathan kept the lessons fun and lighthearted, and also because it inspired me to survey how I live and architect my own happiness.  Here’s a quick summary:


  1. First we need to rebuff the myths on happiness to become fully committed to achieving happiness.  The reasons we devalue happiness are:
    1. We think happiness is fleeting and makes us lazy and selfish.  This is untrue.  Happiness is a sensory experience like love and connection.  As love begets more love, happiness begets more happiness. A happy person is more abundant and can more ably take care of others. 
    2. It is hard to measure happiness and we prefer easier to understand things like money.  We are susceptible to medium maximization, that is, maximizing money, which is measurable medium.  We can overcome this by defining happiness in concrete terms.
  2. To be happy we need to consciously make happiness enhancing decisions.  The nuance is to prioritize but not pursue directly or monitor constantly.  For example, when presented with restaurant choices, choose the one that makes you happier.  However, avoid constantly monitoring your own happiness levels, which can instead add stress.
  3. The Pursuit of superiority is a happiness sin.  There are several reasons we seek superiority: 
    1. To get others' approval
    2. To boost self esteem
    3. To progress towards mastery
    4. To have autonomy
      Pursue flow instead.  You'll get 3 out of the 4 above. Use the following to fight need for superiority:
      1. Self compassion: Suffering and imperfection isn't just you.  it's part of the human condition. Ask yourself: What would I say to a good friend in same situation? Write a letter to yourself as a good friend.
      2. Gratitude
  4. Don't quit your job, bend it until it breaks.  This was advice referenced from Steve Tomlinson. 
  5. Giving can boost happiness, but keep these three rules in mind maximize your happiness while giving: 
    1. Include yourself when in comes to charity and giving.  Contain the cost of giving, don't give selflessly as you must keep yourself well too, but do give with others in mind
    2. Scale your giving.  For example, can you help multiple people at once?
    3. Knowing the effect of your giving makes you happier. So seek to see the results of your giving.  This is referenced from the book Happy money. 
    4. Have fun while giving.
  6. Finally, there is a chapter on maximizer vs satisficer.