Luck makes a person clever

That is why so many intelligent people are not happy

Education, wealth and intelligence - none of these factors guarantee happiness. A professor at the University of Texas has analyzed why even the most intelligent people are mostly unhappy and recorded the results in his book "If You're So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?"

Marketing Professor Raj Raghunathan talks about his research in an interview with Joe Pinsker from "The Atlantic".

Do not compare yourself to the others

People have a sense of what makes them happy, but they approach these things the wrong way. The key term here is the process of social comparison. “That means wanting to be the best at something,” explains Raghunathan. This approach poses many problems. On the one hand, it is difficult to set standards for success. How do you define being “the best”?

For example, if you want to be the best professor, there are numerous criteria by which you can determine success: the student's ratings, the student's success rate in tests, the salary or the number of awards. According to Raghunatan, the danger here is that people often set themselves wrong goals. A good salary hardly says anything about whether you are actually a good professor.

The right view of the world is part of being happy

Ability, belonging and independence alone are not enough - to be happy you need the right view of the world. Here, too, Raghunatan goes into the right and wrong approach.

Many people have a limited view of the world and wish for the defeat of their fellow human beings parallel to their own victory. The principle of scarcity is said to be burned into our heads from the beginning of evolutionary history: "I think that we, as intelligent beings, have to recognize that some traces of our evolutionary inclinations could hold us back." set out to be better than his peers.

With the optimal worldview, however, the idea of ​​scarcity and competition takes a back seat. Instead, you give your fellow human beings the space they need to grow. Companies like Google rely on this worldview and focus on finding out what really excites their employees. Because as great as the joy of a raise may be - after a few months you get used to it and are unhappy with what you have. So you keep looking for a new goal and you are never satisfied with what you have.

Do what you really care about

Those who do not feel the need to compare themselves to other people are automatically drawn to things that they are instinctively good at. Those who are aware of what they can really do and what they enjoy will reap success and money as a by-product in the long run. "Don't worry about the result, just enjoy the process."

The professor observed with his own son that constant comparison does not make you happy in the long term: “In my book I talk about how we gave my son a small mechanical car when he was about three years old because he had seen one Neighbor got the car. He was busy with the car for about three days. Then he wanted to play with the box in which the car had arrived. It was just a box, ”describes the researcher. “Little did he know that the car was more expensive and technically more advanced. He liked the box because he saw a TV character on the show 'Hamilton the pig' who lives in a box. "

But how can you program yourself to think correctly? "You have to do something that you think is meaningful and that you can get lost in on a daily basis," explains Raghunatan. Small details can be decisive: gestures like going for a walk with your family instead of sitting in front of the television can make a big difference in the overall picture and make life overall happier.