Everyday Happiness - Finding Harmony and Bliss
181-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #4

181-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #4

November 29, 2021

Our brains are super complex but sometimes the nuance gets lost when the wires cross between our conscious and subconscious, our prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. This is when we need to be super intentional and really think about why our intuition is telling us.  This series will dive into some of the ways, the biases, our brain gets it wrong so that we can be better prepared the next time we notice this happening. 

 

One way our brains get it wrong is because our minds are built to get used to stuff.  This is called Perceptual Adaptation, which we discuss right now. 

 

  

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to the Yale happiness course by Dr. Laurie Santos and she mentioned how our minds are built to get used to stuff, she used the example of being in a dark room and when you walk out into the light, it’s like, oh my gosh, the brightest day of your life. Your eyes can’t take it.  We got used to the dark and we adjusted.  This phenomenon is called Perceptual Adaptation. 

 

And this is the same in the context of Hedonic Adaptation.  We’ve talked about this before, you can check out episodes 31, 34, 36, or 128.  This is the concept that we get used to what makes us happy.  When we get the pay raise, we are happy and then we get used to that level of income and soon, we want more.  It’s also called the Hedonic treadmill.  

 

Dr. Santos also enlightens us with a study on marriage.  Which I found fascinating.  It’s this idea that when you get married, everything is awesome and you are full of all of the happiness and then, two years into the marriage, you are, well, just … married.  It’s this idea that you’ve gotten pretty used to your partner over the past two years and the excitement has worn off.  Fascinating, right? 

 

The scientist Dan Gilbert wrote a book called Stumbling on Happiness and he says “Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition.” 

 

But this is sad, right?  We want to maintain the wonderfulness, but our brains are just not wired this way. So what can we do?  I would argue that being aware this will happen is the first step and then, being intentional about how we look at things and try to remember how it felt the first time your partner said “I love you” or your child said “mommy or daddy” or your wedding day or when you got that job promotion you worked so hard for.  Our emotions are so complex, but revisiting these first moments can bring you gratitude and happiness - which are great feelings to have.   

 

Until next time. 

 

 

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

180-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #3

180-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #3

November 28, 2021

Our brains are super complex but sometimes the nuance gets lost when the wires cross between our conscious and subconscious, our prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. This is when we need to be super intentional and really think about why our intuition is telling us.  This series will dive into some of the ways, the biases, our brain gets it wrong so that we can be better prepared the next time we notice this happening.  

 

One way is having wants (whether conscious or subconscious) based on social comparison,  which we discuss right now.  

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to the Yale happiness course by Dr. Laurie Santos. 

 

Yesterday we talked about reference points that were mostly internal.  I may make 30K a year and I want to make 50K, for example.  

 

But today, we’re talking about reference points when it comes to social comparison.  Look, it’s everywhere, right?  Whether it’s on TV or on your street, social comparison is out there, and we are constantly using it as a reference point to determine our own happiness.  Some more than others. 

 

There is a study, where they looked at office workers and they found that if you knew you earned less than the other peers you worked with, you would be less happy.  For no other reason.  You could buy the car, the house, the life you wanted.  But you were less satisfied with your job if you knew others were making more money than you.  

 

This is a problem when we ask, what counts as a reasonable social comparison?  Is it Beyonce or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?  Or is it the colleague with the similar background and work?  When we are scrolling Instagram, watching TV, glued to Tik Tok, we are watching all of these highlight reels with people with so much more means that us.  What this is doing, is messing up our intuition as to what “normal” is.   We start to think, to use as a reference point, that this wealth is normal and we start to feel really crappy about our own circumstances and our brain tricks ourselves into thinking more of this stuff will make us happier.  But that’s just not how this works.  

 

The lesson is that we have to be intentional and check ourselves when it comes to who and why we use social comparison, because we are on auto-pilot doing it anyway, this is the opportunity to take a step back and be more mindful. 

 

Until next time, we’d love for you to follow us over on Instagram @everydayhappinesswithkatie where we share quotes, episodes and have conversations with all of you. 

 

The science mentioned in this episode can be reviewed at:  Solnick and Hemenway (1997). Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 37, 373-383.

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

179-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #2

179-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #2

November 27, 2021

Our brains are super complex but sometimes the nuance gets lost when the wires cross between our conscious and subconscious, our prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. This is when we need to be super intentional and really think about why our intuition is telling us.  This series will dive into some of the ways, the biases, our brain gets it wrong so that we can be better prepared the next time we notice this happening.  

 

One way is relying on reference points as opposed to objective decisions, which we discuss right now.  

 

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to the Yale happiness course by Dr. Laurie Santos and she was talking about how our minds don’t think in terms of absolutes, we are constantly judging everything by our own reference.  

 

This is why the studies have results when someone making $30,000 a year is asked what would you need to be even happier and they say $50,000 but when you ask someone making $100,000 they say $250,000.  Our minds are judging what would make us happier by our surroundings - our reference points.  And quite frankly, 50,000 or even 75,000 might make us just as happy.   We already know that money doesn’t buy us happiness.  

 

So we’re talking about a REFERENCE POINT as a salient point, (the most noticeable but often completely irrelevant) point against which all subsequent information is compared, because we're judging all the time. 

 

So, in the scenario of salary, the reference point is what we used to make.  It’s not done in absolute objective terms. 

 

One of the most famous examples of this is seen through the olympics.  We watch these sporting events and some athletes take the podium and some don’t.  So if I were to show you a photo of one of the greatest swimmers of all time, Michael Phelps on the podium with his gold medal, he would look happy.  But what’s interesting is the silver medalist looks less happy.  But he just won a medal at the olympics, which is a huge deal.  And then, if we turn to the bronze medalist, he looks as happy if not happier than the gold medalist.  But why?  It’s all relative.  

 

The silver medalist sees a reference point of being so close to winning the gold medal but falling short.  And the bronze medalist sees a reference point of not making it on the podium at all and just being so darn happy to be there.  

 

All of these athletes are experiencing a different salient reference point.  Our minds don’t think in terms of absolutes - it’s clouded by our salient reference points.  

 

Researchers studied olympic athletes in exactly this scenario over and over and what they found was silver medalists were less happy than the bronze medalists over and over again.  

 

Today, I invite you to consider your reference points when thinking about your wants. 

 

 

 

The science mentioned in this episode can be reviewed at: Medvec et al. (1995). When less is more: Counterfactual thinking and satisfaction among Olympic medalists. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 603–610.  

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

178-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #1

178-How Our Mind Hinders Our Happiness #1

November 26, 2021

Our brains are super complex but sometimes the nuance gets lost when the wires cross between our conscious and subconscious, our prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. This is when we need to be super intentional and really think about why our intuition is telling us.  This series will dive into some of the ways, the biases, our brain gets it wrong so that we can be better prepared the next time we notice this happening.  

 

One way is miswanting, which we discuss right now.  

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to the Yale happiness course by Dr. Laurie Santos and she was talking about how we can’t always trust our intuition, our mind when it comes to our own personal happiness, because our mind doesn’t get the nuance.  

 

We’ve been talking about this idea that what we think we want for happiness won’t actually, scientifically, make us happier.  The best job, perfect body, winning the lottery won’t really change our happiness as much as we think it will.  We’re focusing on the wrong goals.  Check out episodes 170 and 171 for a little more high-level background on this concept of our intuition overestimating how happy we think we will become if we get that thing or achieve that goal.  

 

In her lecture at Yale, professor Dr. Laurie Santos introduces the work of researchers and professors Tim Wilson at the University of Virginia, and Dan Gilbert at Harvard.  They coined this fantastic term called MISWANTING. The definition of this is “this act of being mistaken about what and how much you're going to like these things in the future”. The problem is that our brains deliver to us this idea that we want certain things, but we are often wrong about it. We are constantly miswanting.

 

So why does this miswanting occur and what can we do about it?  Well, the researchers seem to think that just being aware of our biases is the way to counterbalance miswanting.  It can be as simple as wanting a doughnut.  I want a fried dough ball with a sugary frosting, it will taste good, and it will make me happy.  I eat the doughnut and although it tastes delightful at the moment, but now, I am no longer happier - the feeling didn’t last.  I miswanted.  

 

This all comes down to the perils of us humans predicting our future feelings and people specifically mis-predict the duration of how good or bad a feeling will be.  

 

So today, I invite you to think about miswanting in the context of your day-to-day and just be aware of when our brain plays these little tricks on us.  

 

Until next time, smash that subscribe button and leave a review, we would be forever grateful.   

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

177-Happy Thanksgiving In The United States

177-Happy Thanksgiving In The United States

November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving.  The Everyday Happiness team is so very grateful for you.  Sharing our Thanksgiving plans. 

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and Happy Thanksgiving here in the United States.  I wanted to take this moment, a day of gratitude to express my gratitude for you.  A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think of you, the listener and work toward over-delivering this micro-podcast.  

 

Here in the US, today is a traditional day of thanks, of gratitude, of appreciation for what you have.  We typically have a big meal and often, we are with others, people we love.  

 

This year, our family of four will be celebrating together with turkey and all the sides - my favorite part, playing board games, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV and hopefully, staying in our jammies all day. 

 

For us, today is a day to reflect on what we have and where we’ve come, and to be present (remember that’s something I’ve been working on this year) with one another without a lot of the typical distractions.  

 

Wherever you are today, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or today is just a regular day.  I wish for you gratitude and appreciation because the science is clear, it’s the gateway to happiness.  

 

Until next time, know that I am sending out into the Universe my gratitude for you.  I hope you feel it. 

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

176-Have You Checked The Air In Your Tires?

176-Have You Checked The Air In Your Tires?

November 24, 2021

I heard this saying the other day: Happiness is like a tire, you’ve got to keep pumping air into it.  Wow, that got me thinking.  So much of the science indicates that this happiness work is always a work in progress. How are we filling our tires?   

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I heard this saying the other day, it was: 

 

Happiness is like a tire, you’ve got to keep pumping air into it.  

 

Wow, that got me thinking.  So much of the science indicates that this happiness work is always a work in progress.  We are never full without a little leakage.  Like a tie, we run on it for a while and air spills out.  And god forbid we hit a nail and need a patch.  

 

This is so much like our happiness, our mindset.  We can be going along just fine and then, out of nowhere, we hit a rough patch.  Some patches are rougher than others. Some we can fix ourselves, some we need to go to the mechanic.  

 

Ok, I might be taking this saying a little too far, but you get the picture.  We can’t assume that just because today is happy, tomorrow will be.  We can’t take for granted our happiness and what we’re learning through this podcast or other sources.  

 

This takes work, some effort.  Our happiness doesn’t just fall into our lap.  But more importantly, it takes intention.  

 

So today, I invite you, like putting air into a tire, to fill your cup.  Perhaps that’s an Intentional Margin to do something for you, that lights your hair on fire.  Maybe it’s to call a friend you enjoy, but haven’t found the time recently.  Perhaps it’s spending 10 minutes in meditation or reading.  One sure fire way is to express gratitude or sprinkle a little kindness to a stranger.  

 

This happiness work, when done intentionally, really will change your life.  And that is super exciting.  Until next time. 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

175-Use Your Voice

175-Use Your Voice

November 23, 2021

The research indicates that using your voice is really important for a sense of social connection with another person.   

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and the research indicates that using your voice is really important for a sense of social connection with another person. 

 

So while I don’t think that devices, those smartphones, those mini-computers in our pockets are necessarily awful, they also don’t help us tailor a sense of social connection with others.  We’re always texting.  Right? 

 

I’ve started adding voice text to my messages.  Whether that’s in the DMs or a text.  It’s not perfect, but if I can’t see the person, I want them to feel my voice.  

 

This is so interesting because urban planners are always talking about green space and playgrounds and bringing people together.  Well, when people are together, they have an opportunity to use their voice and make social connections - even with strangers.  

 

In fact, just this morning.  I was in my home office and noticed a county truck and county worker jump out and look at my grass, by the sidewalk.  Since earlier in the week, there were county trucks on my street looking for a water leak - I thought I would ask this guy what’s up.  

 

I walked outside, coffee cup in hand, and just simply asked if I could help him? He told me he was just changing the meter caps on all the water meters in my neighborhood.  I told him that I was so happy to hear that since earlier in the week the crew was out on my street looking for a water leak.  We both laughed and agreed this was the guy I wanted to see first thing in the morning, and not the other crew.  It was a 2 minute encounter, but I turned around and I had a smile on my face, it was nice, it felt good.  I quickly peered through the window of my office and the worker also had a smile on his face.  There was nothing to the conversation, just being nice and I felt that tingle of happiness.  It felt good. 

 

I invite you to use your voice for good.  For kindness.  For gratitude.  And come back to use and let us know how it makes you feel.  You can always reach us at @everydayhappinesswithkatie on social.  You can get this podcast delivered to your inbox and reply to those messages as well.  I read every single one. 

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

174-The Social Connection Experiment Part-2

174-The Social Connection Experiment Part-2

November 22, 2021

And just when you thought, the experiment by social psychologist, professor and researcher out of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Nick Epley couldn’t get any more fascinating, he asked the follow-up question.  What would you expect to feel? And this jives with what we’ve been talking about over the past few days.  

 

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I've been so interested in this experiment by social psychologist, professor and researcher out of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Nick Epley.  

 

Yesterday we went through the initial experiment.  Today, we take it one step further. 

 

So, just like the researchers see over and over again in experiments, and the findings from the experiment in yesterday’s episode, connecting with another person was pleasant, it improves your well-being and improves your mood. So, the question is, why don't people do it? 

 

Well to test that, they ran a second experiment. Where they told people about their experiment, and each of the different groups, and asked them to predict how they would feel if they were in each of these different conditions. 

 

This doesn't measure actual experience of course, this measures people's expectations, about how they would feel, and what they would expect. They expected that they would be the happiest in the solitude group, that they would be the least happy in the connection group - where they had to talk to strangers. 

 

So, not only were their expectations miscalibrated, they were precisely backwards, to what Epley and his team saw when they ran people through those actual conditions. Which we discussed in the previous episode. 

 

What we know is that connecting with strangers turns out to be surprisingly pleasant.

 

And, as a side note, one of the questions that was asked in the initial experiment was to ask the volunteers how productive their commute was. Epley and team didn't get any differences across the three groups in productivity. So thinking you are going to be productive isn’t actually a hindrance to happiness if you want to engage in a little social connection.

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

173-The Social Connection Experiment Part-1

173-The Social Connection Experiment Part-1

November 21, 2021

This episode is a minute longer, but you won’t even notice because this experiment is fascinating.  I’m breaking it down for you today. 

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to Social Psychologist Nick Epley describe his social connection experiment and it’s so fascinating that I have to share it with you.  So Nick Epley is a professor and researcher out of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, his credentials are long and robust and if I started down that road we’d never get to the good stuff.

 

Epley’s experiment, that I am going to explain, started with really just an observation, he was thinking about literature demonstrating how important social connection was for our happiness and well-being. And yet, every day when he took the commuter train into the office in Chicago, he noticed people in very close proximity to other people, actively avoiding social connection. 

 

He knew, he wanted to do his own social experiment.  He asked for volunteers, and in exchange for a $5 Starbucks gift card he asked that they complete a survey.  With these volunteers, he created 3 groups. 

 

The first group that was told to just keep to themselves, just enjoy your solitude on the train ride in. That was their solitude condition. 

 

The second group was the control condition. They told them just to do whatever you normally do on the ride. And today it is normal to keep to yourself and sit alone or sit by yourself at least. 

 

In the third group, they were told to do something, perhaps somewhat radical. That is when somebody came and sat next to them, they were asked to try to form a connection with that person. Try to get to know something about him or her. 

 

And that's all he told the volunteers. 

 

After their commute, they were asked to fill out a survey.  The same survey for everyone.  The survey included a bunch of items, the first three were the ones that they really cared about.  The volunteers were asked how sad are you today after your commute? How happy are you? How pleasant was your commute compared to normal? 

 

Epley and his team averaged these first three together, and found something interesting. 

 

We talked in an earlier episode about how people might think that connecting with a stranger kind of stinks. It's unpleasant. It feels uncomfortable.  Actually, this experiment found that to be wrong. What they found was that people in the connection group were actually reporting the most positive experience, and people in the solitude group were reporting the least positive experience. 

 

So, just like we see over and over again in experiments, connecting with another person was pleasant, it improved your well-being and improved your mood. So, the question is, why don't people do it? Well that’s what we’ll dive into tomorrow. 

 

Connecting with strangers turns out to be surprisingly pleasant.

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

172-Social Connection Makes Us Happier

172-Social Connection Makes Us Happier

November 20, 2021

The data is pretty clear that happy people tend to hang out with other happy people.  Those same happy people also enjoy richer social connections.  Here is an exercise that we can all do, today. 

 

Transcript:

 

Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day,  through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life. 

 

I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and the data is pretty clear that happy people tend to hang out with other happy people.  They have richer social connections.  In fact, happy people tend to make more social connections by just talking to the barista at the coffee shop, striking up a conversation on the subway or in the store.  

 

I saw this exercise in a Yale happiness class where you track your progress. You take a week, and each day you write all of your social connections and notice how they made you feel when you jot it down.  

 

The idea is that social connection matters a lot when it comes to our happiness.  In fact, even a new social connection, like chatting with the barista at the coffee shop or the person in line with you, actually boosts your happiness.   

 

This can also be an exercise where you call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, have lunch with a friend or chat with someone new. 

 

Social Psychologist Nick Epley says that “Social connection can be almost anything, from making eye contact with another person, or smiling at another person to being in a long term romantic relationship with somebody. And it turns out that social connection across this entire spectrum tends to be pretty darn good for people.” 

 

What is really fascinating about Epley’s work is that he’s looked at these tiny micro-connections, even with strangers, that can happen on the daily which can be as small as when people smile at one another.   

 

To drive this point home, tomorrow, I am going to share with you the findings from Epley’s social experiment in a commuter train from the South side of Chicago. 

 

 

Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness

 

And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie  and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram

 

Links:  https://onamission.bio/everydayhappiness/

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