How to not let it go

2019-09-16

I read a startling idea in Robert Cialdini’s book Pre-Suasion. Studies confirm the obvious fact that elderly people are happier than younger people. A brilliant psychologist has suggested that that’s because happiness is simply more important to the elderly. They value it more highly because they want to make good use of the time they have left, so they learn how to not worry about the stuff that doesn’t matter.

This is in contrast to younger people, who usually give more value to ambition, growth and achievement. It’s impossible to make progress on those things without worrying about small stuff, because worrying about small stuff is basically what they are. Learning and growing means focusing on the details and being dissatisfied with them. It means not letting things go.

If you’re not happy, it might be because being happy is just not that important to you. These studies give weight to the idea that happiness is a choice, so if it’s something you don’t experience, obviously it means you’re choosing something else.

That’s good news! It means you can stop worrying so much about being happy and focus on really getting shit done. Or dial it back a little to give yourself more room for happiness. Things are now under your control.