“Ultimately, what we need in order to be happy is at some level pretty simple. It requires doing something that you find meaningful, that you can kind of get lost in on a daily basis.
When you observe children, they are very good at this. They don’t get distracted by all those extrinsic yardsticks. They go for things that really bring them a lot of enjoyment. In my book I talk when we got my son a little mechanical car when he was about 3 years old, because he saw a neighbor get that car. He was into the car for about three days. After that he wanted to play with the box in which the car came. It was just a box. He didn’t have any idea that the car cost more, or was more valuable, or more technologically advanced. He was into the box because he saw a character on a TV show called Hamilton the pig, who lives inside a box. He wanted to replicate that life for himself.
What we were trying to do in that particular study is bring that focus back into people’s attention. For example, rather than sitting in front of the TV, a father might decide to play a little game of baseball with his son. What people might do varies, but when there’s a reminder, what we discover is that—and these are studies conducted with Fortune 500 employees, undergraduate students—they make seemingly small, you might even call them trivial, decisions, but they add up to a happier life overall. This simple reminder on an everyday basis is a kind of reality check, which puts things in perspective for people.” – Raj Raghunathan