Yale University is a US-based university that was founded in 1701. This means that it is now in its 321st year of existence, making it the 3rd oldest university in the US. In its long history, there is one particular class that has turned out to be the most popular. The name of this class is Psychology and the Good Life. At one point over 25 per cent of the total number of students enrolled were taking this class. What is happiness and what makes us happy? What can we do to cultivate genuine happiness? These are some of the key questions the course covers and more. There are business lessons we can draw from this class and here are they are:

Money And Time Implications On Your Happiness

Everyone is in pursuit of money – it characterises the bulk of what you wake up to do daily. It is even said that money answers all things. However, thinking that money is the ultimate source of happiness is misleading. There is a certain point where money can bring you regards to happiness. Money will never be a potent means to guarantee absolute happiness. Studies have even been conducted that showed that beyond an income of US$75 000 you would have hit a ceiling. This means any more money you earn past that mark has a tiny contribution to your happiness. This is a good place to throw in the time aspect. Having more control over your time has been shown to significantly increase happiness. Thus past US$75 000 if you can ‘buy’ time with your money, then money can be a great source of happiness.

40 Percent Of Our Happiness Is Determined By Us

So the breakdown here is that 50 percent is decided by genetics. Then the other 10 percent is determined by circumstances. Let us focus more on the ‘us’ versus circumstances. The most ironic thing is that most people reverse that proportion. They think that happiness is determined more by circumstances than us. This means we are giving circumstances too much power. Even more disturbing is that we are shifting power from us to circumstances. You hold more power than circumstances in determining your happiness. The moment you grasp that you will start living differently knowing it is mainly on you, not circumstances.

Circumstances will always be there, unfavourable ones at times, but you are the final authority not them. If you allow them to negatively (or positively) affect you they will so choose wisely. Another way to look at this is that focusing on circumstances misleads you. For example, you will tie your happiness to things like money, material possessions, a spouse, and so on. Those things, though they might bring happiness, cannot do so always. Cultivate happiness from within you aside from those things or circumstantial premises.

How To Attain Robust Happiness

We might discuss all those other aspects but at the end of it all what matters the most is the ‘how’. Surveys were done using Yale University students to find out what the best ways to attain genuine happiness are. The study showed some common things that were repeatedly cited from student to student. These are:

  • Having quality time with loved ones e.g. family, friends, and relatives
  • Cultivating and living a life of being grateful – an attitude of gratitude
  • Regular physical activities
  • Making and keeping more than enough money
  • Having control over one’s time

Surely you can see that the answer lies in and on you. All the aforementioned aspects are essential things you actively choose to do and in ways up to your discretion.

The definition of happiness I prefer the most is the state of overall wellbeing, being prosperous and thriving. It is mostly all up to you how unhappy or happy you are. I know in this class there is mention of 50 percent of your happiness being caused by genetics. I am not quite sure of the basis of that but I feel it is too high. Whichever the case it still solely boils down to you – it is all you! I remember some couple of years back I visited a certain part of Zimbabwe. It is a rural community in Matabeleland North and livelihoods are generally low income. Yet in my whole life, I have never seen a happy and well-natured community like that. It truly is not all about money and material possessions. In your business or entrepreneurial journey always remember that.