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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
How’s this for a doozy of a first paragraph?

“There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.

But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.”

Now this may not come as a huge surprise to anyone with eyes and a bit of life experience, but it still remains counterintuitive. How can someone appear to “have everything” and yet be so unhappy…especially as others are striving to also “have everything.”

Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, tries to make sense of in his recent book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?

How can someone appear to “have everything” and yet be so unhappy…especially as others are striving to also “have everything.”

In it, he claims that striving for achievement is the equivalent of a big dopamine hit. It’ll feel good when you get it – like a raise, a new title, a new car, a bigger house – but eventually, the thrill wears off and you need something new. That’s a recipe for unhappiness.

Says Raghunathan, “If you were to go back to the three things that people need–mastery, belonging, and autonomy–I’d add a fourth, after basic necessities have been met. It’s the attitude or the worldview that you bring to life. And that worldview can be characterized, just for simplicity, in one of two fashions: One extreme is a kind of scarcity-minded approach, that my win is going to come at somebody else’s loss, which makes you engage in social comparisons. And the other view is what I would call a more abundance-oriented approach, that there’s room for everybody to grow.”

Sounds a lot like what I’ve been preaching here for a decade. You can see it in the comments section. Men who think American women are selfish and would rather fly to Thailand for a bride. Women who are disgusted by men’s willingness to separate sex and love and have convinced themselves that no men are kind and commitment-oriented. This type of scarcity is not only untrue, but unhealthy as well.

So what does the professor recommend? A shift in focus – not unlike the one I try to provide in my blogs, newsletters and podcasts. I call it “short-term pessimism/long-term optimism. Raghunathan calls it  “the dispassionate pursuit of passion”.

Life is benign; it is what you make of it.

“Basically the concept boils down to not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes. The reason why it’s important to not tie happiness to outcomes is that outcomes by themselves don’t really have an unambiguously positive or negative effect on your happiness…Everybody’s got some kind of a belief about whether good things are going to happen or bad things are going to happen. There’s no way to scientifically prove that one of these beliefs is more accurate than another. But if you believe life is benign, you’re going to see lots of evidence for it. If you think life is malign, you’re going to see lots of evidence for it. It’s kind of like a placebo effect. Given that all of these beliefs are all equally valid, why not adopt the belief that is going to be more useful to you in your life as you go along?”

Thus, men aren’t bad. Online dating isn’t horrible. Marriage isn’t dead.

Life is benign; it is what you make of it.

I hope you’re having a great day and are starting to see how much power and control you have over your own romantic destiny.

Your thoughts below are greatly appreciated.