Happiness Revisited

Happiness Secrets and the Study of Natural and Synthetic Happiness  posted on February 8, 2013 evoked a comment about the use of the word mastery in i09’s article listing six ways to be happy. Michael, 0424 056

Is the use of the word mastery here incorrect? Can anyone  reach that lofty goal? If you personally can’t be the ultimate master of what you’re trying to achieve, is that failure?

Being rather compulsive (I don’t think I’m that obsessive, but compulsive–yes) I had to click on the link and reread that i09 article. Here it is.

I believe this i09 article throws out a help-line for creating long-term happiness.

#2. Master a skill

This one is kind of a tradeoff: a study published in a 2009 issue of the 100% real Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who dedicate themselves to mastering a skill or ability tend to experience more stress in the moment, but reported greater happiness and satisfaction on an hourly, daily, and long-term basis as a result of their investment.

“No pain, no gain is the rule when it comes to gaining happiness from increasing our competence at something,” said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University in a statement. “People often give up their goals because they are stressful, but we found that there is benefit at the end of the day from learning to do something well.”

Its main message is to dedicate one’s self to mastering a skill or ability whether it’s ever deamed masterful by others or not. We all know someone out there may beat us at our own selected game. That doesn’t matter.

I look at our aging population and I see some pretty grumpy faces. Those with perpetually happy faces seem to be those who are working diligently to improve a skill or learn something new. They aren’t struggling to be the master-of-all in this endeavor, but they are passionate about mastering the activity for their own emotional needs.

There’s authentic joy in knowing you’re achieving and improving even when that climb to reach beyond mediocre creates stress. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll become more masterful at something if you just practice.  You might find yourself sweating up a storm while others walk away with the prize.  What’s missing?

At a certain level of knowledge practice helps, but to gain a deeper level of understanding for actual improvement you have to research, study, practice, and reevaluate–then make a return trip back to do more research, study, practice and evaluation. This is true for most everything, writing, drawing, building bridges, golfing, raising hogs, or tightrope walking. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s stressful, but that development of joyful passion wins hands down over the depression of apathy and your giving up.

My suggestion is to make mastery an endpoint or goal but not the definer of your life. Trust me, being a perfectionist would push me into the crazy world.

Those of us who have developed a passion for creating, exploring a new intellectual challenge, or learning a new skill may have to settle for being a jack-of-all-trades and maybe a master-of-none.  But it doesn’t matter because when you find us stressed out you’ll also see we’re the ones who have mastered that happy side of life.

How do you create long-term internal  happiness?


About Char of inkydancestudios

Writer by nature and for the soul. Educator for life. Artist for love. Passion: All things good and true.
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4 Responses to Happiness Revisited

  1. Michael Dietz says:

    And a perfect example is learning to be good, maybe even very good, at playing the competitive version of the card game of bridge. There are people who have tens of thousands of master points ( a common scoring method in competitive bridge). However getting to just a few hundred indicates a certain respected level of abilitiy in playing the game. Some stress but also much pleasure in achieving that goal. And you can still enjoy playing the game.


    • So true. Those who win many points after struggling to win one or two are euphoric even though they’ve endured months of stress learning the blasted game.

      Thanks for your thoughful comment and for stopping by!


  2. Charlene you are so on the nose with this. I try to focus on one area of learning at a time, and it makes it less stressful than attempting to conquer two or more concurrently. The reward at the end of the line when you achieve whatever you’ve focused on is more than compensating for the hard work, struggle and stress!


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