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Maybe the closest writing to fit your view is Daniel Gilbert[1]. Basically, humans have a biological "set point" for happiness and it's different for everyone. It is not affected by winning the lottery, or getting paralyzed from a car accident, or doing meta-analysis on what happiness is (such as reading self-help books about achieving happiness.) Those events may affect happiness in the short term but not in the long term. People will eventually gravitate back to their predisposed set point of happiness.

If I agree with the above, I can set aside the quest for ultimate measurement of absolute happiness (e.g. Solon's "Count no man happy until he be dead."[2]) . However, I can still do things that affect relative happiness. When I stopped consulting for boring ERP software, my quality-of-life definitely improved. Again, I won't know if I'm ultimately "happy" until I'm lying on my deathbed. Nevertheless, it feels like I got a little victory from changes like that.

[1]http://www.amazon.com/Stumbling-Happiness-Daniel-Gilbert/dp/...

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy

[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solon




I agree you can do things that affect your relative happiness, but the key here is that it's YOU who must know what the things are - everyone have different needs and you can't fit all in one model. Some prefer to have interesting, but lower paying job, some doesn't care as long as it pays for their hobbies - and both can be happy, but switch their lives and both will be miserable. So if one would give advice to the other on how to be happy, it wouldn't help a bit, because they've different perspective on life.




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