Each of us should also keep in mind some large truths from the science of happiness that can transcend circumstance and time, guiding us across all of our life’s events, from the trivial to the momentous. These are, you might say, the three maxims of happiness.
Maxim 1: Mother Nature doesn’t care if you are happy.
Perhaps the greatest error people make about happiness is assuming it will come naturally if we follow our instincts—that is, If it feels good, do it. Your brain’s reward system keeps you chasing earthly delights. These fall broadly into the categories of money, power, pleasure, and honor.
Happiness is your responsibility, not Mother Nature’s. That means you need to curtail your worldly appetites, and instead pursue what truly brings enduring happiness: a faith or life philosophy, family relationships, real friendship, and meaningful work.
Maxim 2: Lasting happiness comes from habits, not hacks.
We live in a culture of “hacking,” or finding shortcuts to achieve otherwise time-consuming goals or invade well-protected systems. The internet is full of “happiness hacks” that will supposedly boost your well-being in surprising ways, with little effort. For enduring happiness changes, you need habits, not hacks. And by habits, I don’t mean mindless routines; I mean mindful, daily practices to strengthen your relationships, deepen your wisdom, and uncover meaning in your life.
Maxim 3: Happiness is love.
In the early fifth century, Saint Augustine summarized all of human ethics in the dictum “Love and do what you will.” The happiest people have lives focused on love: of family, of friends, of others through work that serves, and in some cases of the divine as well.