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Ask HN: What makes you happy in life?
57 points by bsvalley on May 10, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments
It could be anything. I'm curious to hear about new ways to become or remain happy :)

Independence, being in great physical shape, and sharing as many meals as possible with friends. Having interesting friends outside of tech. Enough money to never worry about money, which varies widely from person to person. Never, ever worrying about hierarchies of any sort.

I need to fit this in here somehow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdfeXqHFmPI

(Note: That's what I want, not necessarily what I have atm.)

This is the dream.

To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

Found the sales guy!

Helping others around me. As Ive grown up and become (I guess) a little more successful, material things dont matter so much, but helping my employees grow and fulfill their potential is very satisfying.

As a gay man I wonder if theres some latent paternal forces coming through here, any straight people (bosses) with employees, do you also feel some sense of crossover with your children and employees? Just curious

I do, for sure. Feeling like you're helping your employees (and they're sending signals that they feel helped) definitely relates to the delight you get from watching your children grow.

Yeah, I am straight and have the same instinct. There's nothing quite like helping another person blossom into their full self. I don't think this is uncommon, btw. I think this is basically coaching, but in a business setting. There is definitely some overlap with parenting, but there is also definitely some stuff that is unique to parenting.

same here. I am straight, though have no children. it is indeed very satisfying for me to see my teammates grow with my help (Im a team lead)

Having enough money to buy a pizza whenever I want.

Listening to a song that exactly fits the mood I'm in.

Being so enthralled in a new TV show or book series that I stay up way too late even though I have to go to work in the morning.

Being in the same room as my wife.

Waking up after 9AM.

The feeling of leaving work and knowing I won't have to think about it until Monday.

Accelerating quickly, especially when driving a car.

Watching it rain heavily when I know I won't have to go outside in it.

Weather that is cold enough for me to wear pants but not anything more than a long sleeve shirt.

People reaching out to me to do things instead of me reaching out to them.

In no particular order:

Aimless bike-riding and urban exploration that takes up the entirety of a weekend day (depending on your area I suppose—definitely doable in Austin and the Bay Area, in my experience).

Time with family and friends.

Meaningful work at a company which values having a functional workplace and innovation (in that order).

Exploring music technology (SuperCollider, VCV rack, and interfacing software with hardware).


Sitting by the fire with my feet up. Tea. Coffee. A good book. My dog. Music. Klipschorns. Watching children discover something new. Tutoring. Walking in the woods. Napping.

I've given up on trying to find happiness and instead, find things to be happy about in things I do.

I have an old project I've been working on, on and off. Fixing bugs doesn't make me happy; but I asked the client if I could spend some time / billable hours updating some of my old code and they approved; that made me happy.

I don't particularly like going for walks, but the girl friend and her son do; spending time with them makes me happy so I go for the walk.

Paying bills, cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, doesn't make me happy. But being out of a bad 8 year marriage and on my own (when the girl friend isn't around) makes me happy so I do them, willingly (and they need to get done, lol...)

You can find happiness in anything around you that you do; you just need to be willing to find it.</poetic>

Last year I got myself a copy of "The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom" by Jonthan Haidt. It has an interesting take on what really makes people happy.

To quote wikipedia -

In it, Haidt poses several "Great Ideas" on happiness espoused by thinkers of the past – Plato, Buddha, Jesus and others – and examines them in the light of contemporary psychological research, extracting from them any lessons that still apply to our modern lives. Central to the book are the concepts of virtue, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning.

I have been following some of the suggestions in there - more vacations and holidays, meditation, helping people etc which has surely helped me become happier.

-spending as much time out in the wilderness as possible with people who also enjoy being there and are somewhat committed to being better athletes. Surfing, kayaking, climbing, hiking, biking, whatever.

- drinking beer with those same people around a camp fire.

- Playing soccer/ ultimate/other team sports.

- Set design and construction for small theater. It’s my side gig. The money is shit but I love building stuff and hanging out with theater people.

Looking back at this list, nothing that made the cut involves screens, and pretty much everything involves real-world social interaction.

To all those who answered - are you really sure whatever you mentioned, actually makes you happy? And not it is what you think makes you happy?

Not trying to be a wise ass here - just curious how people know what makes them happy. Asking because I have a hard time answering OP's question

well, not sure about others, but for myself, I know what makes me happy after paying attention to my feelings I have after doing various stuff and reflecting on the circumstances in which I have had them. I do it pretty often.

Sometimes, though, I do fall into a trap of mixing up causality and correlation.

I may feel happy after talking to someone... and only after concluding a thorough analysis of my feeling and the timeline, I may realize that the fact of _finishing_ the talk with that person makes me happy and not the talk itself 8-( )

Interestingly you will get a completely different answer if you ask people how happy they are with their car compared to asking them how happy they were with their morning drive to the office.

First it was appreciation. The ability to appreciate everything. When I hit my bottom in college, that was the first piece that shaped the rest of my life.

There is a difference between having your goals and lifestyle preferences hinging on your ego, or simply just that, enhancements.

Now, it's about controlling my schedule indefinitely. Having control of my queue (time) in life is top priority. From there, everything is possible.. your health, family time and so on. On a daily basis, I take inventory through appreciation of waking up today, the things that have been, are, and becoming. The people plus my intentions which are manifesting is some of what keeps happiness remaining daily.

warning: possibly preachy post ahead...

Ebullient happiness is an epiphenomenon. It's a fleeting thing that happens as a result of actions whose ultimate goal is satisfaction and a sense of peace.

Shooting for happy is, to quote bruce lee, "...like pointing a finger at the moon. Focus on the finger and you miss all that heavenly glory." It's a gift, but it's not a reward. Treating happiness as a reward or something you deserve is a great way to make sure you never get it.

I appreciate and revel in the happy moments that come, for me, from service and exploration and study.

Super deep and intense flow state. Usually from programming, but sometimes from writing or doing 3D art.

Comedy(TV and Standup). Community, HIMYM, Rick and Morty, Louis CK, Bill Burr.

Jogging in the park and listening to audiobooks.

Nothing. Literally nothing. So I have stopped trying to be happy.

Well I hope you find something that makes you happy someday. It doesn't get better for everyone but it does get better for most people.

Unsolicited praise and adoration.

Well said! Truly inspiring!

have you heard how awesome pram is

Love, defined widely.

The classic dyad, caring about someone deeply and having them care about you, is a great way to do that.

But even if you’re unpartnered, or partnership isn’t your thing, the best parts of life are often when you’re caring for others.

After that, it’s more about knowing how you’re wired and doing whatever serves that. I need to spend a lot of time in physically beautiful places and experience novel sensations and adventures. Other people are homebodies.

Right now:

- Spending non-screen time with my wife and 2 year old daughter.

- Exersize.

- Unsolicited positive reviews of a product I built, talk I gave, or book I wrote from someone I don't know and don't want anything in return.

And something a lot of people on HN probably is thinking but doesn't want to admit:

- Out innovating and out performing the products I compete with. Especially if they are a much larger company than mine.

But I hope I can soon also add to the list:

- Relaxing without worrying about a deadline

- Reading books again

Simple: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

edit: sorry I see below I was too slow posting this...

For me, it boils down to 3 things:

1. Company of close friends & family.

2. Independence to do things I like.

3. Having a clear and conscious though.

According to Epicurus, greek philosopher these are some of the key ingredients for a pleasurable life.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irornIAQzQY

"You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction." - from the Bhagavad-Gita

I think a "results-oriented mindset" is often a source of unhappiness

Hope in the afterlife.

Having such a hope has been shown (in numerous studies) to have many benefits.

Doing things independently. Especially things which directly contribute to the necessities of life. The (mostly fruit and vegetables) garden is going pretty well so far this year...

Hugs, ice cream, doing crafts with my kids. Simple things.

Gratitude. The action, not the feeling “thankitude” often conflated with gratitude. Being thankful is fine, it’s just gratitude requires action.

It's cliche, but mastery, autonomy (control over your time), and purpose really does ring true.

Also relationships.

In the past, being good at sadness was a major contributor. Now, doing things for others helps a lot.

Traveling light and far. I enjoying visiting new places, trying out new food and meeting new people

My girlfriend, job, where I live, windsurfing, mountain biking, travelling, eating well

when I understand something I've been struggling with. Long walks listening some nice podcast, playing with my dog and traveling (to some places only). Money also works but it's a different feeling, more like excitement.

free time where i don't have some deadline and am able to do whatever i please

Any chance I can get for pure solitude. I love being alone.

Try to be well. Flourish. Happiness is fleeting.

I'm not happy

Traveling, calmness of perfect day at a beach

Surfing, the ocean, walking my dog

being outside walking seeing things I've never seen before coffee laughter

good weather good food good conversation

Alcohol and teenage prostitutes. Really.

The big physical hormonal events — sex, food, muscle contractions, sleep, endocannabinoid ingestion.

That’s it. When I make happiness any more complicated than that, it instantly begins to elude me.

But when I take happiness down to those basic elements — I’m happy :)

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