We all know that what made us happy as children may no longer apply. But is it just a matter of our tastes changing?
Social psychologist Jennifer Aaker, PhD, theorizes that your happiness is not based on your likes and dislikes, but rather, the motivating forces that drive you. Our definition of happiness tends to shift every 5 or 10 years, evolving through 5 basic “chapters” throughout our lives.
The first chapter lasts through your childhood and teen years, where happiness is found through discovery and excitement. You gain happiness by understanding the world around you.
Most people go through the second and third chapters through their 20s and 30s, where pursuit and balance become the primary motivators in their lives. For example, success in your career may help fill your bucket in your 20s, while settling down and maintaining your health is what makes you the happiest in your 30s.
Then our sources of happiness make a selfless turn. The fourth chapter revolves around meaning — caring for others, and finding contentment in what you already have. I know that this is certainly the case with my own parents, who are continually thankful for their blessings despite the hardships they endure, and seem to be the happiest when they are able to help out their family and friends.
The last and final chapter is a tranquil stage, where most people derive joy from feeling fulfilled and connected. From savoring their life experiences, memories, and relationships. From feeling calm, lucky, and blessed.
You can watch a video where Dr. Aaker describes each chapter below. In it, she and her colleague argue that we cannot always choose to be happy, but we can change the meaning of happiness.
Personally, I believe am firmly planted in the third chapter of the happiness journey right now — balance — because I’m all about stability these days! Anything out of the norm shakes me up a bit, and new endeavors downright scare me.
I am happy to announce that I am currently working on a new project. A business venture. I won’t go into details right now, but it has to do with Korean Beauty and I’m pretty confident it will be successful. It’s a risk, to be sure, but a worthwhile one.
And just as Dr. Aaker states, I am changing my meaning of happiness. I am adjusting the rewriting my chapters in an effort to become the author of my own story. I am scared, but happy.